At Trilogy Saddles, President Debbie Witty hand-selects each Ambassador. These riders represent the very best in equestrian sport, with an emphasis on the welfare of the horse and the epitome of horse/rider partnership that our equipment stands for. We hope you enjoy reading about our Trilogy Ambassadors!
Trilogy Saddles Ambassador
Saddle: The Debbie Special
International competitor and Olympian Debbie McDonald might have won gold, silver, and bronze medals throughout her career, but to Trilogy President Debbie Witty it’s McDonald’s dedication to her horses, and her attention to the details, that have helped her become a Trilogy champion.
“Debbie has such feel and compassion for the horse. She really knows them inside and out,” says Witty, who points out that McDonald is involved with everything that happens on her farm, from feeding to leg wraps to laundry. “It’s not a control thing. She simply knows these horses have worked really hard for her, and she wants to know firsthand how the horses are doing and that not a single thing is missed for them. She’s a true horseman, which these days is becoming too much an art of the past,” says Witty.
This kind of attention to the details makes life and work a difficult balancing act for anyone, so how does McDonald do it? “It’s one of my biggest challenges, to balance a life outside the horses,” she says. “Most people don’t realize what you and your family sacrifice to compete at an international level, but my husband Bob and our kids Ryan and Kim have been there for me every step of the way, as have my sponsors and everyone on my team.”
Any mention of McDonald and her horses is incomplete without Brentina, the chestnut Hanoverian mare who was Debbie’s longtime partner and America’s dressage sweetheart until her retirement following the 2008 Olympics. “Brentina has been an amazing partner, she’s truly a horse of a lifetime,” recalls McDonald, who feels that choosing the right horse is a huge factor in any rider’s success, but especially for shorter riders, who don’t have the benefit of a long leg for communication and leverage.
This is the type of information that’s crucial in saddle design and fit, and it’s one of the reasons Debbie Witty hand-selects her Ambassadors. Through collaborative efforts, each relationship becomes a kind of ‘living laboratory’ that allows Trilogy to design saddles like the Debbie Special, a signature saddle built specifically with the petite rider, and their unique riding needs, in mind.
“It’s so critical for us to have the kind of relationship with a trainer that helps us understand what riders need, and the issues horses commonly have. I know I can go to Debbie and describe to her, ‘this is the feel I want to reproduce,’ and she can get that, and we can talk about it and what it means in terms of saddle fit and design,” says Witty. Ultimately, the pair have each horse’s comfort foremost in mind at their every meeting.
“If a horse doesn’t have a well-fitting saddle, you’ll get soreness,” says McDonald. “What really matters is that they can move freely in their shoulders, that they’re not pinched under the shoulder or anywhere on their back.” Witty agrees, and points out that with horses and problems, it’s often a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario.
“With Trilogy Saddles, I feel our job is to probe into what’s going on with the horse. Is the horse having a lameness issue, a back issue, or a rider issue? Then, once we determine the source, we can provide information to the rider, veterinarian, and caretaker to help resolve that horse’s problems, and can fit and flock the saddle to help overcome comfort or schooling challenges.”
It’s clear McDonald has an eye for a good horse and a good saddle; she’s also got an eye for up-and-coming riders, and the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has taken notice, naming her their Developing Dressage Coach in early 2010. McDonald is now a talent scout to help identify and cultivate future U.S. dressage stars, providing input into their development; it’s similar to what she does with Debbie Witty and Trilogy Saddles, helping Witty put the ‘shine’ on a diamond in the rough.
McDonald reports that while Trilogy saddles are by far the best she’s ever ridden in, it’s not the only reason she’s proud to represent Witty and her company; she says it’s because Trilogy stands for quality, service, and excellence.
“Debbie Witty stands behind every single saddle she sells, and they give the most outstanding service of any saddle company I’ve ever dealt with,” she exclaims. “If you have a problem, they are right there to make it right. They are simply the best!”