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Reagan Hayes and Sullivan
I really never thought I’d like a ReactorPanel and told Carmi as much before my first ride. I had just started to work for Carmi and naturally, Carmi wanted me to ride in an RP so I could understand how they worked.
So, armed with my traditionalist mentality, I mounted up, prepared not to feel anything miraculous.
Then we started to trot. My horse, a big Shire/TB cross, began to ‘float’ in a way I’d never felt before. Clearly not sharing my biases for classic aesthetics, he immediately felt lighter and more responsive. As for myself, I felt as though my leg was able to hang better. The twist was perfect, allowing my leg to drape down his side rather than wrap around it like a barrel. For a horse that feels as wide as he is tall, that was really saying something.
Then we jumped (our favorite activity). An already capable, powerful jumper Sullivan ‘cracked’ his back over the top of a 3’ jump. When we put the jump up to 3’6”, he nearly jumped me out of the tack. It was a terrific ride.
Nevertheless, as I said earlier I was well armored in my prejudice against a saddle that didn’t ‘look’ right. I thanked Carmi for the ride and admitted that it felt really good, but I still was committed to my ‘traditional’ saddle preferences.
Then I went back to my old saddle, a very nice and very expensive saddle. Sullivan, a dutiful soul went back to working stoically under its not quite ‘wide’ enough tree. But, we both thought about that saddle. And thought, and thought, and thought. (Or, perhaps the word is ‘dreamed’.)
Finally, I couldn’t stand it any more, I had to own one of those saddles. So, I bought a dressage saddle. I figured that my old saddle really was nice and why would I need another jumping saddle when I already had my 'traditional' almost wide enough one. Silly me, I should have known. Don’t get me wrong I love my dressage saddle and the way it allows my leg to work, but jumping is our preference and our passion. So, I am now the proud owner of both a dressage and a jumping ReactorPanel saddle.
Sullivan, now pushing his way up the jumper ranks, is now free to ‘crack’ his back over every fence whether it’s 3’ or 4’9”. As his fitness has improved, we’ve refit his saddle to match his svelte new shape. We’re hoping we can ride it all the way into the Grand Prix ring.
The transformation not only in Sullivan but in my own ‘feel’ has been a light bulb for me. I have spent many years in the saddle on a lot of different horses and always prided myself on being able in any saddle. While I can still force myself to do so, the ReactorPanel saddle is the one I love. I’ve also been lucky enough to witness their transformative powers at work on several other horses. All, the stoic sorts and finicky ones alike, have displayed their preference for RP. They just move better and work better.
Obviously, I’m a convert. I have officially shed my bias and changed my perspective. I have shown hunters and jumpers in the RP and I’m not sure anyone really even noticed it was different. Thanks Carmi and RP, I’ll see you in the ring.