On one side of Coffin's facility, you'll find the shop where they make the saddles from scratch. When one prototype is complete, Coffin himself then takes it to the other side of the facility where.his test horses—whose sole job is to try out these saddles—are housed. “The part of that process which is simple is actually gauging the reaction when [the horses] like something or not; the process that’s a little more difficult is identifying where in the saddle you need to make the improvement and how you’re going to get there,” he says.
“We have maintained a group of 5 horses since the beginning of our R&D efforts which began in 1992. While some are no longer with us, and others have filled in, these horses have provided me with the feedback necessary to evolve our understanding.” The management of these horses is designed to limit the number of variables in order to make precise evaluations of their reactions to the saddle design iterations. These horses are not on any medications, do not receive therapies of any kind, and are not fed any supplements. They are all ridden every day by Tad in a simple egg butt snaffle and plain cavesson bridle with neither martingale nor breastplate. Tad rides them in an open, rolling field and is constantly evaluating their responses. “It is their feedback that has guided us throughout this entire process. They are completely honest in their assessment of our work and through this process, they have led us to new truths about what they require.”