Saddle Design Evolution

As the role of horses moved from work to sport, saddle design shifted from what horses needed to what riders desired.
Today RP leads the industry with next generation saddle, designed for the horse according to the best traditions, but engineered in the most modern materials.

Since the 1940′s, “saddle improvements” have increased the rider’s comfort and decreased the horse’s, as the role of the horse shifted from utility to sport. Unfortunately, these changes—such as smaller panels for “closer contact” and recessed stirrup bars to reduce bulk under the rider’s thigh—have made saddles much less comfortable for the horse.

Manufacturing techniques changed as saddle designs shifted. Saddles used to be custom-fit to specific horses and were built one at a time. Now, the saddle industry has shifted to mass production. People commonly buy saddles by price or brand, often without taking their horse’s conformation into account.

This practice is akin to buying shoes without considering size. Can you imagine ordering a pair of sneakers labeled “Athletic Shoes” and expecting them to fit everyone?

Even the most intelligent riders rarely pause to consider that they are sitting on the horse’s muscles and blood vessels. Too many highly regarded trainers and coaches never question saddle fit. It is distressingly common for bodywork experts to find horses with saddle-induced pain and even tissue damage and atrophy. Some of these horses compete at high levels in dressage, eventing, hunter/jumper, and endurance. Imagine the levels of performance these athletes could achieve if they were pain-free!

Now RP is leading the industry with the next generation of saddle design, to enhance the horse’s comfort and ability to perform. For the first time, riders who recognize the severe performance limitations and damage most horses sustain from conventional saddles have choices.

All of us at RP ride in RP saddles because we believe they offer the best fit for horse and rider. We do dressage, endurance, show jumping, trail and pleasure, and we all have found them to be as comfortable, balanced, and close-contact as a saddle can be.

RP saddles feature virtually infinite adjustment, thanks to our proprietary ReactorPanel® system, so saddle fit can be adjusted as horses grow, develop and change over time.

We designed a range of models, because we understand that no single saddle fits all horses and riders. If the saddle has a tree, the shape of the tree in at least 4 critical areas will be the key to sucess in ultimately fitting the saddle.

We believe the only way to accurately test a saddle is to ride in it on your horse for an extended trial. That’s why we invite you to experience the RP saddle for yourself—with no cost to you except for freight and insurance when you use the RP Fitting Support Program.

Click here to learn more. (*****Link to Take a Test Ride landing page)