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THV/BALANCE registered Saddling Consultant

Mary Bashtarz

Saddling Services Offered

  • BALANCE Saddling Consultations.
  • Saddling re-assessments & help for those who have previously bought saddles ( although for this there is a 2 hour minimum if Mary is not already at the location.  Mary is happy to fill the time with a ridden lesson, in hand work or dismounted work).
  • Lecture-Demos and Workshops/Courses/Clinics
  • Coaching & Support for those helping their horses through the BALANCE Remedial Programme
  • Follow up support using Skype/Facetime/Videos and phone calls
  • Trailer in possible.  Riding ring and 6′ x 60′ round pen available.  Overnight stabling and room also available.
  • Distance/Remote help with the BALANCE Remedial Programme
  • Distance/Remote Pad Checks

Other Services Offered

  • Distance/Remote Riding Lessons

Areas Covered

Throughout USA & Canada…

Day trips driven within 2 hours or less of Harrington, DE, USA.  Overnight can be further, usually driving to surrounding states.

History with BALANCE

“I attended my first lecture/demo by Carol in 1999.  At that time she gave me a hand-walking plan for use on a Friesian who was lame (unknown cause), had a dropped back and back leg fetlocks that almost touched the ground.  It worked and cured all three issues!  He had become a powerhouse!  I was hooked and never looked back.

“I took the training for Test Ride Facilitator.  I travelled extensively with Carol whenever she came to the US for clinics (Test Rides and teaching), mostly on the East coast.”

Equestrian Experience

“I attended a Gavin Scofield clinic in Kentucky and am very aware of cranial sacral work as I have a friend practitioner, Lynn Henderson, who cured my horse of a constant trickle nose bleed.  I am very aware of hoof/leg foundation issues.  I have attended many training classes with K. C. Lapierre and Applied Equine Podiatry.  I have experience of English, Western, race training and driving.

“I have been riding since I was 12 years old and participated in New Jersey 4-H and showing till 19 yrs.  I attended many riding clinics by various instructors over the years.  I have been a 4-H horse project riding instructor for over 10 years.  I’ve taught riding to mildly disabled children from a large local community organization.  I have attended many instruction lessons given by Carol Brett and have taken many lessons from her.  I gained much experience from Carol on breaking down the issues or problems with more advanced movements to a lack of competence or correctness in the simpler components of the movement.”


Just wanted to say thank you for all of your help with my BALANCE saddle. It’s been a joy to work with you throughout the entire process, from the initial trial and education session to the purchase of the saddle and pads. Your willingness to quickly and cheerfully answer all of my questions has been much appreciated. Nate and I have been using our Felix now for 2 weeks and we’re both loving it! While it is a different feel for me, I’m getting used to it and am finding the saddle quite comfortable. And Nate, my most important reason for choosing a BALANCE saddle, has been much happier in his work. I can’t wait to see the continued improvement in his back muscle development after additional time using the saddle. Thank you for everything.”

Robin – Virginia

“You are awesome thanks!!!! I wanted to let you know that I found a Felix GPD online. It was used and in very good condition. I tried it on Mays the last couple of days and she seems to like it very much. I want to thank you for all of your help in selecting the saddle and answering all of my questions. I am a happy girl! Thank you for your role in making me so.

Nancy – Virgina

My 14 year old IDSH mare, Marnie and I have been getting great lessons for some time but, seemed to be in a ‘stuck’ place. It was suggested that I have Gavin Scofield do long distance energy work on her, which began on March 2nd. Gavin was able to diagnose and correct a sacrum problem she had to allow her to use her pelvis more easily and correctly which, in turn is enabling her to work on lifting her back. It soon became clear my saddle was not helping the situation at all, and more likely contributed to her issues. BALANCE saddles were what everyone in my realm were using and swearing by so, I had a Test Ride with Mary and the clear choice for both Marnie and me was the Zenith 9X. She went beautifully in the 8X so, we ordered the 9X to allow for growth… but, then Carol Brett, who always has the welfare of the horse as her top priority, recommended we test the newer Equinox 4 width before committing to the Zenith. Not only was it a less expensive saddle, but it was slightly wider, meaning she would most likely not out grow it. and Carol said most horses who like the Zenith, like the Equinox as much or more. We had nothing to lose.

The saddle arrived on May 24th. It is a lovely saddle and Marnie was very happy to never have the old saddle come near her again! Ultimately, I decided to keep it. I muscle tested often, and continually got a NO on the Zenith 9X and a YES for the Equinox 4 width even though she went better in the Zenith. It is a mystery to me as to why but, I had to listen to that. I can only assume it is because she would outgrow it and the benefits of the more secure fit would be short lived.

I can’t say this saddle is the ‘magic bullet’ I hoped it would be… the missing piece to the puzzle… every ride would be perfect from now on… No, it IS a crucial element, and we have definitely made big improvements but, I have come to realize that real progress is only going to come through correct work over time and nothing short of that. This saddle simply will not impede that work, and doesn’t mean I can cut corners for improvement! Gavin is done for now and his work really helped Marnie and in this saddle I can get some lovely movement and balance from her, especially in our lessons. But, the biggest factor is how I am riding… learning to relax my joints, maintaining my balance and supporting my horse correctly so she can become properly balanced. This saddle is aiding me in becoming a better rider for my dear horse. She deserves no less.

Many Thanks to Mary and Carol!

Joanne – Virginia

“I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed learning from you yesterday and how much of a pleasure you are to work with. Thank you for all your guidance and support in this process! I was truly humbled to witness the multiple horses have such significant transformation in the simple change of a saddle. Thank goodness for your wealth of knowledge and extreme patience as each one of us tried multiple saddles. You knew just what to say and how to say it to each one of us. Thank you so very much for the extra effort and passion you put into helping me find the right saddle for my mare.

Tori – Virgina

You do a great job Mary. I feel very good about recommending you to my clients – and I am picky! You have been wonderful in the way you reach people without ever making them feel bad or wrong. That is a real gift that I very much enjoy about you.

Kirsten – Florida

“…I want to convey what a huge help and learning experience it was to work with Mary, thank you.”

Kathleen – Florida

“Thank you for all the time you’ve spent helping me learn more about my horses and how we can help them be more comfortable and willing by making sure we use saddles and pads that support their bodies’ movement, rather than hindering it and causing pain.”

Marilyn – Delaware

Love my new saddle and now can really work on improving my position. My balance is 10x better just doing nothing. I really like the seat on my new saddle also and it’s so nice and soft. It already feels broken in the first time I rode in it so I figure it will only get better!”

Ann – New Jersey

“I really appreciate all the good information you gave me yesterday. It is very educational to have another perspective on my riding and my horse’s movement, especially one so educated.

It was so refreshing to find someone who is knowledgeable about BALANCE saddles and can accurately analyze equine movement. Sometimes I feel as if I am in a knowledge desert when I am surrounded by equestrians who only know what is traditional and conventional, and are satisfied with the little drips of knowledge they get from conventional trainers.

Diane – Maryland

“Thanks so much for your time and expertise in helping me deal with a long-standing issue with my mare. Since Countess has herpes, she is super-sensitive to a wide variety of issues and it shows up in coat and muscling because it interferes so profoundly with her immune system. As a result, despite my use of a BALANCE saddle for the past 5 years, her back and top-line have never developed the way I’d hoped. Not only did you listen, and take seriously, all my ‘history’ of my struggle with Countess’ issues but, you immediately identified — and could show me — the crookedness I’d always felt, but could only describe to others. You showed me how what I was feeling was exhibited in Countess’ movement, and in so doing, confirmed my sense that I was essentially straight — that I wasn’t ‘causing’ Countess’s crookedness, or ‘making it up’. In addition, you were able to show me and get me to feel, how to correct her — help her stay straight — which at the same time improved my posture as well as hers.

Admittedly, the changes you made to my position felt pretty dramatic. Actually, it wasn’t that the changes were ‘big’ but more that your explanation of how and why my body position and posture affected Countess’ movement was so straightforward and logical that I had to sulk about my inability to ride and my consequent failure to do the ‘right thing’ for my horse. I sulked for the afternoon during which time I heard you make a very similar correction with a friend whose riding and horse (wo)manship I deeply respect. I believe all good riders are deeply critical of and constantly reassessing their riding. So, I went to work — I did my best to follow your advice.

“It required a level of concentration that I sometimes would rather have avoided. Since my riding time is also my ‘down time’, my time to rejuvenate my sense of what is right with the world (rather than what is wrong with it), I found that my ability to focus on reproducing — and maintaining — the position, and all the other little changes you’d suggested, required tremendous concentration. Frankly, there were days when I could sustain it for little more than 15 minutes (and a few, for less than that). I could feel both myself and Countess ‘fall apart’; she would actually start to stumble. I would find pieces of my body to be doing unexpected things — it was time to quit. Which was hard in and of itself. Sometimes quitting — which did mean getting off Countess’ back — translated into me having to affirm that I was doing the right thing for Countess. And that was hard too, because on many of those days it seemed that my success in maintaining the position/posture was marginal. And as yet, there was precious little visible or other evidence that Countess was experiencing the benefits of either.

“However, a month into it, my stirrups are back to the original length. I feel like my upper body and my lower body are no longer in counterpoint. And it is easier — requires a little less focus — to maintain my posture throughout my ride time. I am therefore, able to deepen my awareness of other things, like contact, the accuracy of Countess’ gait changes, tempo as well as rhythm, and really enjoy simply riding. But, the real bonuses are what I was after in the first place, and they are myriad. First, Countess’ entire topline has improved. Her back and neck look and feel strong and solid. The ‘lines’ of her muscles flow beautifully. It’s doubtful a photograph would show it but, it seems to me that the underlying muscular-skeletal system is in harmony and a symphony is just under the skin. Which, by the way, is blooming with shine and a few dapples — extraordinarily rare to see on Countess — and her coat is silky soft. Better yet, she consistently develops ‘good spit’ as we ride which is a huge change; her acceptance of contact has always been fleeting. And MY back is less problematic. I’ve struggled with pain in my hip that I know to be related to vertebra out of alignment in my lower back for over a year. It was bothering me consistently in the months prior to our session. I’ve not changed anything except my riding (swimming truly helps my back but I’ve not been able to fit it into my schedule of late). I’ve become aware that I’m just not experiencing as much annoyance associated with my hip/back in the last few weeks.

“So, thank you. Your knowledge and ability to ‘see’ the issues, coupled with your ability to explain what the problem is and HOW TO FIX IT might all have lose on me, if you had not also displayed a deep respect no only for horse-human relationships in general but, also for mine with Countess in particular. I was willing to commit myself to my best effort to make the changes that felt odd, required a significant change in how I spent my time with Countess. It is at a time in my life when that outlay of intellectual energy added to an already difficult to manage set of responsibilities and commitments. Because your approach to the whole situation engendered my trust in your expertise and confirmed that you grasped not only what I was after but, also where I was and how to get me (from) ed. there. I’ve worked with many professionals and experts who, no doubt have knowledge in particular areas that far exceeds my own. I continue to work with only those whose expertise is ‘delivered’ in a package that takes seriously my own experience and knowledge base as well as ‘the problem’. You are rare, I think, in the horse world in that your ‘formula’ for problem solving has at its center the enhancement of the horse-human relationship. It is therefore nuanced and detailed and uniquely fits not (only)ed. horses, not (only)ed. people but, the horse-rider in harmony. And that’s a lovely place to be.

Shawn – Maryland

Current Courses

Saddling Talks

Free/fundraiser to groups (4-H, Pony Club, Future Farmers, youth groups, horse groups).

Saddle Judging Sessions 

Similar to horse judging.  I bring a selection of saddles, English and western, and the participants have to list features by whether they are horse friendly or not, place the saddles in order of best to worst, then give oral reasons about their placing.  The saddles brought for each group of 4 saddles can range from beginner knowledge to advanced students.  The advanced has the addition of rider and horse information added to each group.  Saddles can be grouped by riding style also.

Dismounted Rider Clinic Series

Half day or full day.  Covers rider only in several dimensions for balance, straightness, mobility and some Feldenkrais.  Also, explores contact qualities of leg, seat and hand to achieve PEACE, as Carol Brett describes it, which addresses Positive, Elastic, Attentive, Consistent, Equal feel.  For a small group, a half day can be combined with an afternoon private lesson which applies the morning work to a conversation with your horse.  

Dismounted Horse Clinic Series

An in-hand session which works with both you and your horse on the ground.  This used to be called the Remedial Program and is now called the Equine Pathway Programme. (EPP). It is extremely effective for horses with postural issues, muscling issues, tension, movement issues or physical damage.  Also, very effective to improve the quality of movement for a healthy horse.  Covered will be the appropriate type halter/cavesson and lead, tempo, straightness, straightness on a curve, square halt, upward transition from halt in self carriage, addressing one sidedness and lunging.  Wither tracings will be used to document effectiveness of work and use taught as a training aid.  Halters, leads, flex curves and touch sticks will be provided for use during the clinic if needed.

Mary’s version of Constructive/Functional Riding clinic series.  

Covers combining dismounted rider and dismounted horse subjects with a ridden horse and rider.  The dismounted clinics are not a prerequisite.  

Riding Instruction

Can be customized to address specific issues of horse and/or rider.  Especially useful for horses and riders with a physical issue(s).  Also, useful to work on advancing horse and/or rider.


Phone: 302-535-9759
Address: Delaware
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