EQ Flapless Saddle Wins Over Skeptics in Wellington


Think Outside the Flock with EQ Saddle Science


Press Release

Prepared for EQSS
26 OCT 2017

EQ Flapless Saddle Wins Over Skeptics in Wellington

In testing, riders report all horses improved, scoring EQ’s Science Saddle almost 20% higher than their own custom-fitted saddles.


Wellington FL — When you have “science” in your name, you’d better be darn sure you’re following established scientific principles in your formulation, testing, and articles of proof. (And that goes double in the dressage market.) Last winter, during the Wellington season, the theory behind the newly launched brand EQ Saddle Science underwent rigorous testing with renowned equine biomechanics scientist Dr. Hilary Clayton as team lead.

Carmi Weininger, founder of EQ Saddle Science, had an “accidental genius” moment when she removed the flaps from a saddle for a champion endurance rider to make FEI weight. The flapless saddle developed an immediate following in endurance and trail riding, with riders reporting greater comfort and connection. Carmi went to watch them go, and was astounded to realize they really were in markedly better balance and neutral pelvis, and the horses had more schwung. A dressage rider herself, she knew that demonstrably increasing the connection between a dressage horse and rider would have a profound effect on the industry. A few months of hard work yielded the new flapless dressage saddle that got rave reviews from the trainers she selected to try it. Now it’s testing day: will this saddle prove to be more effective... or not? (Cue nail-biting.)

The testing team was headed by Dr. Clayton, along with Canadian Alexandra Hampson for pressure testing, and Dr. Meg Sleeper for cardiology and heart rate assessment. The site of the testing was Arlene White’s Animal Rehab Institute which also contributed slow motion photography.  The testing team was rounded out by Pete Fraser, slow motion video and stride length; plus saddle fitters Carmi, Elise Geske, and Lynne Glazer (who photographed).

There were seven test horses, all upper-level dressage horses. All typically went in their own high-end saddles, most custom-made for the horses, and all recently professionally fitted and flocked for optimum performance. Horse/rider combinations were fitted with EQ flapless dressage saddles and given the chance to ride in them once or twice prior to the test.

In the first phase of the project, the team gathered in March, 2017, for formal testing to objectively quantify the flapless dressage saddle’s effect on horses, riders, and the horse/rider interface in a number of ways, because the saddle seemed to have multiple positive effects, and the team wanted to capture all it could:

  • Pressure, forces on the horse's back, and rider stability using a computerized Novell Pliance pressure testing pad

  • Stride length and velocity, using meter markers and high speed/slow motion videography

  • Heart rate, using Holter monitors on subject horses

The horse/rider combinations rode a prescribed pattern twice: once in their own custom-fitted saddle, and once in the EQ flapless saddle. After the rides, subjective scoring was recorded, in addition to the objective quantifying measurements taken by the research team.

The first research paper1, showing the objective and statistically validated positive effects of the EQ system on rider stability, has been submitted for publication, and we hope to see it out before the end of 2017. At this time, we can release the results of the rider subjective self-scoring the highlights of which follows:

  • Scoring was similar to a dressage test, with 19 criteria, each being assigned a 0-10 score. This was then turned into a percentage of “perfect 10” like a dressage test

  • The criteria included: ability to sit in neutral pelvis, comfort in hip and knee, ability of leg to drape around the barrel, quality of the walk, quality of the trot, quality of the canter, stride length and rhythm, ease of delivering aids, responsiveness to aids, straightness, impulsion, submission, carriage or outline, contact/connection, lightness, lack of resistance, transitions, ease of sitting the trot, effectiveness in canter.

  • Every rider reported an overall improvement with the EQ saddle on the horse.

  • The smallest improvement was 70.00% in own saddle, versus 72.11% in EQ

  • The largest improvement was 52.11% in own saddle, versus 92.63% in EQ

  • Both the largest and smallest improvement were reported by the same rider, on two different horses

  • The average was 60.90% in own saddle, versus 80.38% in EQ

The comments echoed these numbers, with the “biggest difference?” question answered with:

  • More forward, more straight and through, more uphill carriage and better contact

  • More straight, uses the back better, more uphill, can crossover more and maintain balance better in the lateral work

  • Much straighter, much more forward, more over the back, more comfortable

  • Suppleness through the body, straightness


And the question “biggest surprise?” answered with:

  • Much more easily through, needs less warm up time to get to a better degree of thoroughness

  • Much more light in the contact and free in the shoulders, easier flying and simple changes

  • Degree of straightness in the flying changes and ease of tempi changes, the degree and quality of collection

  • Much less resistant, seems more comfortable in the work


Carmi said, “Interestingly, the largest and smallest improvements were reported by the same rider - Jen Marchand - on two different horses. Additionally, the two horses with the smallest improvement showed additional gains with more experience in the EQ saddle. Known to be sensitive horses, they appeared to just need a few more rides to get used to the significant gain in freedom offered by this saddle. We are tremendously pleased with these results, and look forward to watching more horse and rider combinations reach greater achievements, and more importantly, have a greater connection.”


For more information, please write info@eqsaddlescience.com or call 510-422-2300.


Press Release

Prepared for EQSS
09 OCT 2017

Think Outside the Flock with EQ Saddle Science

7 of 7 FEI Dressage Horses Strongly Prefer New Flapless and Flockless Saddle

Wellington FL — Carmi Weininger knew she was onto something when the third of seven upper level horses went ‘round the dressage court, noticeably freer in his movement. The first one made her feel lucky, the second one... is this really happening? But a third... well, it was a real pattern emerging.

The world-renowned Dr. Hilary Clayton was running the test, and the results were stunning. Seven competitive dressage horses, all but one with their own high-end custom saddles professionally reflocked and recently fitted, were recruited to try this unique saddle concept that Carmi had invented. All were outfitted with sensors and heart rate monitors, and six of the seven showed remarkable and immediate improvements – with the seventh (a sensitive imported Lusitano) taking a few additional rides to get used to the freedom afforded by the new saddle. Five of the horses, including the Lusitano, were ridden by a single rider, USDF Gold Medalist Jennifer Marchand.

A giant breakthrough, but like many great inventions, it was accidental genius.

Carmi owns ReactorPanel Saddle Company, which specializes in a unique tree-and-panel system that eliminates pressure points across the horse’s back. Much beloved by the endurance population, this saddle is used by top competitors around the world. One day John Crandell III (2006 COTH Horseman of the Year’) approached Carmi. He had been training his competitive horses in her saddles, but needed something lighter to make FEI weight. She was able to solve his problem by removing the flaps, with a caution that she wasn’t sure how he’d feel in it. He loved it so much that he asked to have it named for his multi-champion horse “Heraldic”, who wore a flapless Heraldic saddle for his final competitive years, including a win at Old Dominion. As the word spread, amateurs and trail riders started adopting the flapless version because they too wanted a lighter saddle, for easier saddling.

The real head-scratcher is that these riders universally reported they were more comfortable and felt notably more secure in this saddle. Carmi had to see for herself, so she went to observe and had to agree: the flapless saddle promoted a neutral pelvis, improved the ability to sit the trot, and made riders more stable.

Enter Dr. Clayton. She agreed to compare pressure profiles for the horses’ own saddles versus the flapless saddle, and the first of her official papers2 is soon to be published. The “sneak preview” of this report is that it focuses on the movements of the rider’s center of pressure, with the results revealing that the rider’s seat is more stable in the flapless saddle.  

Carmi Weininger said, “Beyond center of pressure, the objective data for future papers suggests both lower equine heart rates and horses that move more symmetrically. After the study, we asked the participating riders to use a 10-point scale — much like scoring a dressage test — to rate 19 criteria such as stride length and rhythm, responsiveness to the aids, straightness and impulsion, and this subjective data matched the objective. As rated by the riders, their horse’s own saddles rated 59.6% and our EQ Flapless averaged 80.2%. To say we’re excited about the results of this test is a bit of an understatement!”

With this resounding win in hand, Carmi and her team have created an entirely new saddle company called EQ Saddle Science. Building on all the strengths developed in creating the ReactorPanel endurance platform but dedicated to the comfort and performance of sport horses, this new organization is devoted to the science of creating saddles that will help horses and riders redefine the upper limits of what they can achieve.

For more information, please write info@eqsaddlescience.com or call 510-422-2300.


EQ Saddle Science is an organization as unusual and high-quality as the saddles they make, and represent a true revolution in the sport horse world. Riders and their horses are constantly changing, and the conventional approach to saddle design does not address this dynamic, resulting in saddles that can't evolve with the horse and rider. Over time, these conventional saddles, no matter how high-end or how frequently re-fitted and -flocked, may hinder freedom of movement, skill development, and training progress. EQ’s proprietary technology provides a better outcome for both horse and rider than this conventional tack allows, with innovation based on horse and rider biomechanics, and extensive verification of the remarkable functionality of our saddles with scientific testing. EQ permits horses and riders to realize their full potential, to a level they may not even be aware they can reach.


2It should be noted that Dr. Clayton’s papers will report on the five horses that were ridden by a single rider, in saddles of a variety of brands all professionally fitted to the horses, in order to limit the variables.