Nine years ago, Cahir came to Tad Coffin’s farm at the age of 21 years. The photograph on the crossties is from the day he arrived, and the one under saddle is from a few weeks ago. Through a series of small-world connections, Tad’s wife Kelly, who is an accomplished oil painter, learned that a special horse whose portrait she had painted was slated for euthanasia. The horse had been retired to pasture for several years after a long career of leading the Myopia Hunt under MFH Russell Clark. The Clark family was heartbroken to have to say goodbye to dear old Cahir as his condition had declined, and regrettably the vet was scheduled for the following Monday. Hearing this news, Tad and Kelly hopped in the car on Friday to go see the horse, who was in a large pasture with 34 other horses. There he stood at the gate, even though the farm owner said he was always the furthest one away.
That’s when Cahir met master horseman and saddle innovator, Tad Coffin. Since winning double Olympic gold medals for the USA in 1976, Tad has spent the past 27 years dedicating his life to the ongoing pursuit of improving horses’ lives by advancing saddle technology. Everything at Tad Coffin Performance Saddles-- from iterative saddle design, testing and manufacturing-- happens in house and under one roof, with saddle shop at one end and stables at the other. More than just “made in the USA,” Tad’s products are handcrafted with the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia as a backdrop, with the wellbeing of horses at the heart of the matter.
When a horse becomes Tad’s, they become part of the saddle design team. Each of Tad’s horses gets a say in the matter in his ongoing “horse-centric” effort to make saddles built for horses’ comfort while in motion. These horses, including Cahir, are part of a tightly managed control group, receiving no medications, no supplements, and no therapies. With over 4,000 experiments to date, it’s the most thorough effort to improve saddle technology in the world.
Over the past 9 years, Cahir has been an integral partner in Tad’s development of
Thera-Tree, based on the same technology, and he spends some time every day wearing the unobtrusive device. He has also been integral in Tad’s explorations in the concept of equine grounding.
The photo of Cahir braided is at the age of 27 years, and the under saddle photo is from September 2020. Even after being stall-bound for 2 days during a cold rain, and as he nears 30 years old, Cahir comes out sound, limber, and ready to work. Tad “makes no concessions for his age” in their disciplined work sessions with Tad as the ‘test pilot’ for his innovations.
Cahir’s recovery, without any sort of medical aid other than the benefits of Tad’s technology, does seem something of a “fountain of youth” tale. Perhaps the big horse knew, as he came to the gate that day to meet Tad, that his work was not done. Indeed, his contributions continue to bring comfort to horses worldwide.
If you are interested to learn more about equine wellness through Tad’s technologies please visit www.tadcoffinsaddles.com. If you want to discuss a particular horse, Tad is also available by phone at (434) 989-3229.