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Delfina Saddlery - Ten Years to the Present

by Crystal Knipp 15 Nov 2023

This past spring, Delfina Saddlery changed hands. The previous owner, Dr. Crystal Heath, Delfina began in Dr. Heath's dorm room at UCDavis. After making a few browbands for herself and her friends, she began receiving requests for custom browbands from Davis's IHSA athletes, too. Pretty soon, Crystal and her teammates would gather in her dorm room on a regular basis to have 'browband parties' where everyone made as many browbands as they could before they passed out.

A few years later, sensing a business opportunity, Dr. Heath began Delfina Equestrian, where she sold her handmade, finished browbands, as well as selling blank, empty-channel browbands on the wholesale market. Fast forward a few years, and additional empty-channel tack was added to Delfina's offerings, as well as a limited selection of traditional dressage tack.

After ten years owning and operating Delfina, Dr. Heath, now a small animal vet, made the difficult decision to step away from Delfina to dedicate more time to her 501(c)(3) non-profit, Our Honor. We know she'll do a fantastic job bringing more awareness to a difficult subject for most people to discuss - but we need to have more conversations about the humane and ethical treatment of animals, regardless of their ultimate purpose.

Joe and CrystalOur new owners, Crystal ("Christy") and Joseph ("Joe") Knipp, are a husband and wife team who also own and operate GI Joe Homes, a real estate brokerage aimed at assisting the veteran and active-duty communities leverage their benefits to find their family the home of their dreams.

GI Joe Homes logo

Christy's background includes a B.Sc. from Virginia Intermont in Equine Studies, 38 years of riding - 21 of them as a professional running her own business focused on the JYR show jumping athlete, as well as the junior Eq and Medal riders. She has dozens of high-performance wins under her belt both as a rider, and a trainer. Eventually, though, her own struggles with her health necessitated the sale of her multi-site lesson programs and her primary training business, though she continues providing private coaching, clinics, and facility assessments to select clientele.

winning riders

Through these transitional years, Christy decided to pick up leatherwork. It turned out to be a challenging journey, and seven years on, she now has the skillset to create anything out of leather you can dream of. She's currently testing multiple training tools that will help beginner riders learn their base skillset in a more efficient manner, on a shorter timeline, and with more consideration to the lesson horse's comfort and overall longevity. There are one or two other training devices in development that are geared to advanced riders and trainers that will improve the conversation between horse and rider to help increase the horse's understanding of the rider's requests. One of her passions with leatherwork is being able to bring other people's ideas to life. So, have an idea? Why don't you email her directly and start brainstorming some possible solutions.

Crystal's husband, Joe, is a Naval Academy graduate. He served as a Surface Warfare Officer on the USS Monterey, at Special Boat Team 20, the Naval Postgraduate School, and at the NOSC in San Jose for reserve duty. He completed wartime deployments and wartime training work ups. Joe's focus these days is on serving the veteran and active-duty military communities as they buy and sell their homes. He enjoys going to bat for his clients to ensure they fully leverage all their VA benefits - whether that has to do with the VA Home Loan or any of the myriad services veterans and their families have available to them. He's currently working hard on expanding the services he offers to his families - ensuring their family will continue to be taken care of in the event that something happens to the primary breadwinner.

While not being traditionally known as a man who works with his hands, Joe has really taken to the artistic opportunities and challenges involved in blinging out our tack. In fact, most of the custom browbands, dog collars, nosebands, and halters were designed and created by him. But shhhh, don't tell his friends.

Christy is honored and proud to partner with her husband on yet another business. They have so many exciting updates, upgrades, products, and services planned to roll out over the next six months and beyond. We started by refreshing Delfina's logo, and turned to the best person for the job: acclaimed equestrian artist and personal friend: Shannon Lawlor. Shannon reworked the logo and immediately came up with the perfect design. 

Over the years, Delfina Saddlery has evolved from just selling custom browbands to selling just about every piece of English tack you can imagine. To this day, we're one of only a few shops that continue to offer individual bridle parts; because we all know what it's like to have the stitching come out of one cheekpiece only to realize you'll have to buy a whole new bridle. If you've ever had a horse with a wide, short head, or a long, delicate face, you probably also know the pain of buying bridle after bridle, praying the next one will fit and look good (it probably won't, but we'll still try) - or, God forbid - having to buy two bridles just to Frankenstein them together to fit one horse.

After implementing some major enhancements and upgrades to Delfina Saddlery's web presence, we're delighted to announce our focus will now begin to shift towards diversifying inventory and expanding to include other disciplines besides Dressage. One thing we will not do, however, is compromise on quality. We will be working hard in the coming years to be known as the #1 space on the internet to find:

  • High quality, handmade, fully custom English tack from multiple artisans
  • One-of-a-kind works of art from equestrian artists, big and small
  • Unique homegoods for the discerning equestrian (you know - like candles that smell like a real barn!)
  • Home & Stable Decor

Additionally, we're eager to unveil new offerings for the upcoming season that will be available on our website,, and our storefronts on Etsy, eBay, Amazon, Google, Instagram, Facebook, and Walmart. We won't reveal too much, but rest assured, we're as excited as you are about all the new and unique products. Keep an eye out for an email in the coming weeks with further details.

In closing, we appreciate your ongoing support and we look forward to everything the future holds. We hope Delfina Saddlery continues offering the quality items you've come to expect, and then some.

- Christy & Joe

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