Kate, Owner/Operator of WestHill & Son Saddlery, born in the UK, has always wanted to make saddles. Kate showed such aptitude for the trade and craft she was offered a place at the prestigious Cordwainers College in London.
There, she studied saddle making, bridle making, harness making, biomechanics of horse and rider, the muscular system and skeletal frame of the horse and finally lorinery, the study of bits for 3 years. Kate graduated with the highest honors, receiving the gold medal for best student.
Kate was then offered a four year formal apprenticeship with Geoff Dean, Master Saddler and Harness maker in West Sussex, England. Throughout her apprenticeship Kate continued to excel in her trade, winning the Society of Master Saddlers competition in London. She went on to make saddlery for Tina Gifford, who became Britain’s 3 Day Eventing Olympic medalist and was requested to make a bridle for the Kings Troop to be presented by Princess Anne at the Royal Tournament, Earls Court, London. After 9 years of education, exams, training, assessments, dedication, persistence and sheer hard work Kate earned her status as a Master Saddler and Professional Saddle Fitter, her 11-year-old self’s dream come true. Kate’s reputation, high standards, and professional ethics have made her a sought after commodity. In December of 2002 Kate moved to the United States. Bringing her wealth of knowledge and skill to a country sadly lacking in education for this unique trade, Kate has endeavored to teach and educate those in the equestrian industry. Since, Kate has lectured on the SMS overseas Saddle Fitting Courses, taught apprentices, and most recently consulted for the U.S Paralympic Dressage team who won medals for the first time ever in an International Competition at The World Equestrian Games in 2018.
There are currently only three Master Saddlers in the United States with the additional license to saddle fit. Kate Ballard is one of them. At the age of 15, Kate began her Saddlery career with an industry appraisal from a Master Saddler near her home in Suffolk, England, and was accepted to Cordwainer’s Technical College in London. Over her 30 year career, Kate Ballard has worked with novice to world-class riders, including Olympians, and, her personal favorite, Para-Olympians.
Kate specializes in hard-to-fit horses and riders, including Para-riders and offers an industry-unique satisfaction guarantee on her work.