‘Tis the season to have absolutely no idea what to get any of your friends or family, for the umpteenth year in a row. Every once in a while you find the perfect present, but especially for horsey friends, the pressure is on. Obviously you’ll be purchasing something horse-related, but does it have to be pink and have a fat pony on it? We here at Eventing Nation say NAY! That’s why this holiday season each one of our impressive staff writers is picking one unique, amazing, thoughtful, and clever horsey gift to help you along during this time of stress. Happy holidays!
Well, it’s Black Friday, and I am stubbornly refusing to set foot anywhere near a shopping mall for fear of being trampled by stampeding shoppers. For those who are seeking gift ideas from the comfort of their own home (or are reading this on their phones while waiting in check-out lines), I present the fabulous and fun creations of Ran-Dom Designs Custom Saddle Pads. I came across these saddle pads by chance while scouting Facebook pages for small businesses specializing in handcrafted equestrian products. The mission of Ran-Dom Designs is “to help the discriminating horse-owner ride with color,” and they don’t disappoint! Being a sucker for anything to jazz up an otherwise-drab tack ensemble, I looked through their fabric patterns and featured saddle pads; it didn’t take me long to find designs that I absolutely had to have.
I contacted Shannon Vassallo, the owner and creator of Ran-Dom Designs, and asked her for an interview to explain the inspiration behind her work.
EN: What made you decide to start making these custom saddle pads? I can’t sew to save my life (well, I could probably make sure a button doesn’t fall off a shirt, but I definitely can’t construct something this functional, sturdy, and cool-looking).
SV: For a few years, I was a Summer Camp Director at a boarding/training facility. I made baby pads as “thank you” gifts for the gals who worked for me as Counselors. They were fun to make, and the gals seemed to like them, and the idea was born!
EN: What different products do you offer? Are they available in different sizes or shapes for different horses?
SV: I offer English Pads in All-Purpose and Dressage, English Trail pads, Western saddle pad covers, Bridle Sox, saddle covers, saddle carriers, and have plans to add more products in the near future. English pads come in square or shaped, and 3 sizes: pony, standard, and oversized. Western pad covers are made to cover your existing pad, using those exact measurements, to ensure a snug fit. I also do custom orders, to address issues that store-bought pads can’t really manage: high withers, swayback, broad-backed that needs a longer flap length, very forward saddle flaps, etc.
EN: What is your favorite pattern, and what is the oddest request you’ve had so far?
SV: The oddest request I’ve had so far is from a customer who likes Dachshunds and Zombies. So, I found her fabric that’s Zombie Dachshunds…we call it “Zeenies”. It’s hysterical fabric! My favorite pattern is almost impossible to figure out. I love so many of them for different reasons; some for the color, some for the pattern, some for the feel of the fabric.
EN: Tell us about your clientele. What kind of response have you had for your saddle pads?
SV: My clientele started out with my closest friends; many of them tested the “first run” pads for me and gave me great feedback about what did and didn’t work. Slowly, as photos were shared on Facebook, and as I posted ads on some tack-selling pages, I gained more clients at a pretty steady pace. The response has been wonderful, and I’m so happy about that. I’m very critical of my own work, a bit type-A, so making sure that I’m happy with the products I’m selling is my main objective. If I wouldn’t put it on my horse, I’m not going to sell it to anyone. I feel very blessed and humbled by the positive response from everyone.
EN: Now a question that’s been burning in my mind: How did you choose the name for your company?
SV: The name is actually a combination of my two horses’ names: “Ran” is Ranger, my 29 year old AQHA gelding, and “Dom” is Domino, my 11 year old POA rescue. I was cleaning stalls one day, and the name popped into my head! I do some of my best thinking while scoopin’ poop!
Thanks so much for sharing your talent and creativity with the horse world, Shannon! I can’t wait to see my horse sporting his custom-made saddle pad. If you’re interested in ordering a saddle pad for yourself or your loved ones, contact Ran-Dom Designs on Facebook! Featuring countless fabric patterns and design options – whether you want a bright and sassy saddle pad or a custom fit for your high-withered horse – there is something for everyone.
Go shopping! Go Eventing.