Sorta yes - as I understand it, EQ is a sister company to the Reactor Panel (RP) company. The owner of EQ saddles used to also own RP, and started the sister EQ company to focus on dressage and jumping saddles while RP focused on endurance and trail saddles. I’ve never had or seen a RP saddle in person, but from looking at videos and photos, I don’t see any obvious differences other than the focus on different applications/sports.
Got it, thanks. Several years ago I leased a horse from a friend who loved RPs, so I rode in an RP Avant Garde for a while and got to know my rep quite well. Lovely craftsmanship, good balance, the horse went well in it. As someone used to a pretty close-contact feel, it took me a bit to adjust to being further off the horse. They also have pretty specific storage requirements and need a bit more space than a traditionally paneled saddle, so plan accordingly.
I liked it well enough that we tried fitting one to my hard-to-fit, picky mare with major back issues. She objected dramatically to the increased movement, but she has very specific ideas about the world. (And ended up being retired about a year later.) The fitter had never seen that reaction before.
I think the design of the EQ saddles has improved over the RP saddles. This is probably one of the closest-contact feeling dressage horse I’ve ridden in. The storage requirements seem pretty basic and comparable to normal saddles (avoid sharp/narrow edges touching the panels ).
It’s interesting that you thought your mare objected to increased movement. I am not sure I would describe my EQ saddle has having increased movement over “traditional” saddles? Looking at the hair coat under the saddle, there are no ruffled or moved hair, suggesting movement of the panels or saddle. But perhaps this is something the EQ saddle improve on? My gelding definitely has more freedom of movement in the shoulder - maybe that felt weird to your mare?! Equally, I totally get mares with specific ideas about the world that may or may not match what every other horse thinks!!
The tack room where my leased horse’s RP needed to fit was a pretty tight squeeze. The RP’s profile was a bit wider and longer since the panels extended past the front edge of the saddle. We had some challenges keeping the panels velcroed on as a result. Plus side, I got good at fixing the fit when that happened.
In hindsight, I think my mare was managing her back (KS & facet arthritis) by bracing. Bodywork, especially massage, made her dramatically worse. She did not care for the Fairfax performance panel either, and I tried that side-by-side with the same model in the traditional panel. And then I basically had to bail off when I tried trotting in an RP. My best guess is that her usual methods of coping didn’t work with the freedom of the independent panels.
In addition to the back – which no combination of medical intervention, training, and saddle ever truly solved, leading to her retirement – she is a chestnut TB mare with Thoughts About the World. I would definitely be open to trying an RP/EQ again with a different horse. The bay gelding thought it was awesome.
That all makes sense! I am very lucky to have plenty of saddle storage space as we each have tack closets with 2 saddle racks at my barn. I’m sorry your mare had to be retired due to her back issues. My gelding has KS, but seems to be just fine as long as the saddle fits according to his criteria!
Excited that my EQ jumping saddle will be arriving for the 2 week trial tomorrow! My boy continues to get better with every ride in the dressage saddle, so I am really hoping he equally loves the jumping saddle!
@Invested1 Have you gotten your trial saddle yet? Are you trying a jump or dressage saddle?
The Bua saddles are so ugly, but I’m really wondering what they feel like to ride in! The EQ one looks far more palatable as far as looks are concerned. Maybe more comfortable too. I feel like the seam between the seat and the flap of the Bua saddle would end up either pinching or creating a weird bump underneath you.
Have you tried out your EQ saddle yet?! I’m curious to know what you think!
I tried my trial EQ jump saddle today. It was easy to make some minor fit adjustments based on what I learned in the fitting session for my EQ dressage saddle. My horse loved it and it was super comfortable for me too (which surprised me, as most jump saddles aren’t very comfortable for me because the twist is too narrow). My horse and I haven’t jumped in nearly 5 months, so we just did trot poles and pole piles in trot and canter, but he was so much more relaxed, rhythmical, and happy than the last time we just rode around in the jump ring without even going over poles! Great first impression and based on my horse’s fabulously improved performance in his EQ dressage saddle, I have little doubt I will be buying a jump saddle too.
IMG_6397.HEIC (1.3 MB)
I don’t know how to upload a photo so it actually shows up here!?
This is the trial jump saddle with the flaps attached. We jumped a cross rail tonight and the balance was so nice for me and my horse seemed very comfortable too.
Downloading the image worked. He’s a cutie… glad both of you are comfortable, and please keep sharing your experiences. I haven’t gotten a chance to look at the jump saddles in person yet - thanks for sharing pictures!
Thought I’d provide a little update. I’ve ordered my custom jump saddle, but continue to use the trial saddle until it arrives (hopefully in July).
I’m so pleased with this saddle. I’ve experimented with minor changes to the balance for me and have been blown away by the results. I am eventer with a hunter jumper background and I have basically always jumped in a half seat (with a light three point seat a few strides in front of the jump, especially cross country), which is generally fine XC, but can be limiting in the jumper ring. Any time I’ve tried to sit the canter more while jumping, I either get left behind or jump ahead (to avoid getting left behind!). However, in this saddle, three point while still staying with my horse is effortless. Don’t know if it’s just the balance of the saddle or the flapless design that gives me super close contact to feel my horse, but I had a jump lesson today in which I literally rode as I’ve never been able to ride in over 25 years! My horse responded super well and uses his back better with every ride.