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Show RCA 2019

Valerie Riabko

Show RCA work

Major project:

Happy Athlete

This saddle’s goal is to make horses a Happy Athlete.

Developed on horses with well-being in mind, thanks to specially designed measuring methods, shape and materials. Happy Athlete is a performance-based jumping saddle, which guarantees a better range of movement and a more natural skin-like contact. 

Happy Athlete is a saddle developed closely in collaboration with veterinarians, saddle fitters and European professional horse riders. The collaborations with experts helped me to identify the main problems in existing saddle trees.

Happy Athlete is based on a new saddle tree, which I developed specially for show jumping horses. The saddle tree was developed in a minimum material waste environment, and a maximum manufacturing time efficiency process. The technology used in the saddle tree makes it one of the most technically advanced available on the market, and it is novel to the equestrian industry.

Combining high-tech materials and innovative technology allowed me to develop a flexible saddle tree in areas where it is needed, and rigid in areas where more support is required. This technology guarantees that all saddle trees are exactly the same, reducing any margin of error and vastly reducing its weight. The saddle tree has undergone expert examination and was tested on users, including recreational horse riders and a member of the Polish National Team in Show Jumping. 

Happy Athlete has a more anatomical shape, giving a larger range of movement, comfort to the rider, and to the horse. The new two-point girth system offers more versatility in girthing and saddle positioning. Designed using durable by nature, resistant to damage soft calf leather.


  • My name is Valerie, I am London-based product designer and material researcher.

    My passion is to investigate the design process and create valuable, useful and inventive products. As a product designer, I seek design questions in everyday life. My aim is to design products always focussing on users, and to develop projects by applying previous knowledge and experience. 

    Exploring new materials and using unconventional methods of production influenced my ideas, way of thinking, and industry perception. User centred research is a fundamental step in my projects, but also a great passion of mine.

    I am a systematic and strong person, who always gets involved with her projects. It leads to an efficient problem-solving attitude, easing common issues that can be found during project development.

  • Previous degrees

  • BA Industrial Design, School of Form, Poznań, Poland, 2015
  • Exhibitions

  • Milan Design Week, Ventura Future, Base Milano, Milan, 2019; Milan Design Week, Floristeria, Milan, 2018; Vienna Design Week, Vienna, 2015; Łódź Design Festival, Łódź, Poland, 2015; Arena Design, Poznan, Poland, 2015
Royal College of Art