Bethany Wood trains at her grandparents’ Wakefield Farm in Earlysville, VA. She grew up riding and showing and currently keeps a busy, full-time schedule riding her client’s horses in training and giving both dressage and hunt seat lessons. Wood competes in both in dressage and hunter/jumper shows.
One of the Wakefield Farm boarders had a Quarter Horse gelding she wanted to get back into work and into a training program after some time off. The horse had unusual conformation and was difficult to match with a properly fitting saddle.
“His owner, in an effort to get him back to work and get him the best possible shot, had done some research and found the ReactorPanel Saddles,” shared Wood. “She bought one for him. It was the very first time I’d ever seen or heard of one.”
Wood put in her training rides on the horse in the ReactorPanel Saddle, as requested by the owner. “I couldn’t help but notice that he was really doing a lot better than he had been doing in my saddle and a couple of the other saddles that we had tried on him. He seemed to do really well with it.”
The ReactorPanel Saddle was new and different to Wood. Curious about it, she asked Melissa Whitney, a massage therapist and equine body worker who is also a ReactorPanel Saddle Fitter, about the line of saddles. Melissa explained the unique ReactorPanel fitting process that gives riders two full weeks to experience how unique the saddles are, with their larger, flexible panels that move with the horse.
Wood was also facing a saddle fitting challenge with her own dressage horse, Wicktory, a sensitive Hanoverian mare. Wood had owned the mare, now 15, since she was 4. She had big, massive shoulders and was not completely symmetrical.
“I had used several regular dressage saddles on her and they all went up her neck. I couldn’t find anything that would fit her and stay in the right place. She wasn’t happy doing the work− I could tell she wanted to work and she wanted to figure it out- but she just… I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I wasn’t making her happy.”
Wood tried the ReactorPanel Saddle and is now schooling the mare Grand Prix and showing Intermediare II with scores around 68 percent
“I was just sold on it,” confided Wood.
She was facing a similar issue with another mare, Faline, who also happens to be out of her dressage mare. She shows the younger mare in the hunters.
“It was the same story with her,” Wood added. “I tried a ReactorPanel with her for the last year. She’s come into her own. She’s happy and she walks in the ring and says, ‘Let’s do this!’ She jumps the jumps and she’s winning!”
“Both of these mares, if they got panicked or upset, they would respond by not going forward and might even rear and do something stupid. They’re just happy now. I can do whatever I want. I can ride them around the farm. For me the whole thing−working with Melissa, having them in ReactorPanel Saddles− is a great thing. They are such personable mares now.”
She currently has two more horses going in ReactorPanel saddles as well, bringing the total to four: her two mares and two training horses.
“I have a huge dressage gelding that I ride for a client,” she said. “He’s going in a ReactorPanel saddle and he loves it. He has gotten so much more expressive in that saddle. His stride is longer. They are just happier and everything is easier.”
Wood also values the ability to adjust the saddle as the horses body changes. “I like the fact that we can adjust things. For my mare in particular, she muscled up a bit and I had Melissa come and reset things on the saddle as needed. I really like that option−not, ‘This is the saddle you’re stuck with.'”
And, as a rider, Wood appreciates the way the saddle moves with the horse’s body. “The saddles move with the horse. I like to feel more swing in the back. I, personally, like the feel more of the motion of the horse coming under you. For some people that might take some getting used to. But I love feeling that motion- I want to feel how the horses are going.”
Not only does Wood believe in the ReactorPanel saddles, but according to ReactorPanel Saddle Company’s Customer Surveys, up to 100 percent of all customers say their horses have improved since using the ReactorPanel Saddle.
ReactorPanel customers, equine chiropractors and back specialist veterinarians agree, and the list of The ReactorPanel success stories and testimonials grows daily. The company, based in Oakland, CA, makes saddles for multiple disciplines, including dressage, trail, endurance, eventing hunter/jumper, fox hunting and cross-country. They require that all customers use the saddle for a two-week, free trial, prior to purchase, to ensure proper fit and comfort for both the horse and rider. Saddles are fit and adjusted by specially trained Fitting Agents, or by users who enjoy do-it-yourself projects
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