SaddleAid was formed in 2014 to provide a means for expectant mothers in remote areas of Afghanistan to reach health centres in order to give birth safely.  Existing methods of emergency travel were both dangerous and uncomfortable. Working with the local community we designed and tested a lightweight saddle that was comfortable for both rider and animal. Our saddles are used worldwide in remote areas, by all members of the community, to access life-saving medical care. We recognise the need for safety and comfort for both rider and animal, and our designs follow best practice.


We form partnerships with health organisations, and provide training in the fitting and use of the saddle. We adjust the pattern to suit local conditions and provide instructions for the saddles to be made locally in a self-sufficient and sustainable way. Our saddles also enable people with disabilities to participate in equine therapy riding, for example in Casablanca.


SaddleAid have been trialing the saddles in the Simien Mountains since 2016, in partnership with the Simien Mountains Mobile Medical Service. There are currently three permanent teams of muleman, mule and saddle available on call to collect women and carry them to their local health centre, before, during or after giving birth. These trials have been very successful and the saddles have proven popular with the women due to their comfort and safety. The results of the trials will be used to produce patterns, videos and step-by-step instructions so that the saddles can be made locally. We have also been asked for a comfortable saddle for tourist trekking and aim to have a prototype to trial later this year.


We plan to develop a training course in saddle making in Addis during 2019, in partnership with Social Enterprise ARAKELE Fashion Design College (training and employing primarily marginalized women), where we will eventually train women in saddle-making and also in making other types of ‘animal-friendly’ harness. Once the course has been established, we will look at ways of training people in other parts of the country.