Where Gaston Mercier really makes a difference is with a saddle concept that is unique in the world. A clever saddle that is so comfortable that riders adopt it and can no longer do without.
A Gaston Mercier saddle is positioned over the horse’s 13th dorsal vertebra. This is the animal’s point of balance, the keystone of its spine providing the best possible for weight-bearing. It should be kept in mind that when a horse is ridden, two thirds of the rider’s weight is carried on the horse’s forehand. Bringing the saddle forward, as became common practice starting in the 19th century, can only further overload the animal’s shoulders.
Gaston Mercier saddles optimally distribute weight. This allows for greater mobility of the horse’s thoracolumbar junction (so that it can lower is hindquarters) and releases the shoulders. Hence, the horse’s movement is enhanced and its muscles are more relaxed.
By regaining this freedom, it becomes easier for the horse to perform the exercises required of it thereby giving the rider better sensations.
The secret to a Gaston Mercier saddle is its tree.
On the retail market of saddlery parts, standard trees are made of glulam and designed to rest over the 9th dorsal vertebra. Their bearing surface is small. As early as 1983, Gaston Mercier came up with a completely different concept. A design that was less restrictive for the horse and more comfortable for the rider.
As a connoisseur of equestrian history, he drew inspiration from the tradition of horse riding nomads and their wooden trees with a deep seat positioned over the 13th dorsal vertebra. Gaston then designed his own tree. Rather than using wood, which is heavy and thick, he chose epoxy resin, carbon fibre and fibreglass. With these modern materials, the tree is far lighter and allows closer contact with the horse.
It was this pioneering model that constitutes the backbone of a Gaston Mercier saddle. A saddle whose popularity has grown inexorably in all equestrian disciplines: trail riding, dressage, endurance and even show jumping.
In consultation with you, we determine the tree size and type of saddle for you. Then manufacturing can begin. You must expect a time lag of some two months between the order and delivery. During that time, our teams are working to make a saddle that will be for you and you alone!
From the cutting out of the leather to the assembly, from the leather covering to the positioning of the stirrup-attachments, every step in the process is presided over by the highest standards of craftsmanship.
Here are a few manufacturing terms, to give you a taste of what goes on in the workshop. Leather cutter: a tool for cutting out the leather by hand using a template.
Edge beveller: for finishing the edges of leather so they are not sharp.
Groover: this tool is used to make a groove where the stitching is placed so that it cannot be seen.. Skiving knife: it is used to thin the leather and avoid excess thickness.
Turn-in: this is when the edge of a leather part is turned inwards so that the cut is not visible. Hot stamping machine: this is the machine that engraves the famous Gaston Mercier stamp on leather !
The Gaston Mercier saddlery gives a free rein to its imagination. All the catalogue items are special creations.
Stirrup leathers, fenders, contoured girths, carbon fibre stirrups, numnah with a parting line along the spine, compression socks, cantle bags, grooming bags, etc. The Gaston Mercier range expands every year.
Our recent creations—hooded, leather-covered stirrups and our Spahi saddlebags—again demonstrating the strong taste for innovation in the Gaston Mercier approach.
Innovation is also what we seek with our materials.
Epoxy resin, one of the components of our trees, has high tensile strength and resistance to bending, impact and stresses. It is used for building boats that sail around the world. Our saddle leathers, made from cowhide, come from the Aveyron and are tanned and finished in France. They are very supple and are treated to be water-repellent.
The flexible polyurethane foam mousse we use for our saddles is highly resistant to compression and deformation.
Batyline® (girths, saddle pads, etc.) has strong anti-tear and anti-abrasion properties.
It is our constant desire to innovate both our saddle types and materials. We believe in trial gallops, which with your approval and loyalty, become master gallops!