The WOW Panel
The panel is where horse meets rider. It is the positioning and weight distribution mechanism for the rider. It must allow the rider to sit in a balanced position and carry the riders weight across the largest possible surface area, minimising pressure, in a way that does not inhibit movement, musculature development or cause injury to the horse.
It is must do this dynamically while the muscles flex and the skeleton changes shape.
Many a well fitting saddle on a stationary horse is found to be useless as soon as the horse moves.
Most saddles integrate the seat, headplate, panels and flaps. In the WOW saddle, while the modules work in conjunction with each other, they are independent so that you can source what is needed for the horse – and adjust them as horses change.
The bearing surface has been maximised to the point where no saddle, even a western saddle, will come close to the area of continuous bearing surface of a WOW™.
Pressure from stirrup bars and points of the tree are a thing of the past.
The gullet width achieved by some of our panel designs is extraordinary to ensure not only spinal clearance but to allow room for the shoulder and top line muscles to work correctly.
The “flocking” is air, rider adjustable to accommodate the changing shape of horses as they develop and train, doesn’t compress or compact or create pressure points, reduces impact pressure, and adjusts dynamically as the horse moves to ensure a continuous bearing surface.
There are four elements to a panel – gullet, channel, shape, and flocking.
Paul Tapner Jumping in a WOW
This is a dynamic measurement of Paul Tapner jumping using a pressure pad under his saddle. The pressure aligned with gait and the impact pressure of jumping are clearly visible. So too is the broad and consistent bearing of pressure. No pressure points from stirrup bars or saddle points are visible.
The base of the withers is a junction box for a lot of muscle groups. The gullet is the area between the panels that accommodates this spinal process and musculature movement.
Pinch this area and the horse’s ability to perform, especially laterally, will be hampered. The gullet has to be wide enough in this area to give clearance for the muscles to work freely. However if fitted too wide it will cause instability and potentially pressure related problems because of insufficient muscle to support the saddle.
In Picture A, the grey, the area requires quite a narrow gullet compared to the Bay where the gullett is wider. In some horses the dynamic movement of this area is profound. Looking at Picture C, where the head is lifted, a person feeling the base of the wither area may not notice any difference until the horse resists and tries to bring its head back down. When this happens the horse engages the muscles that are used in self carriage and they tighten and expand. If the difference between a flaccid muscle and a tense muscle happens to be a marked change in the width of the muscles at the base of the withers a wide gullet is required. In Picture B, a wide gullet is already required.
WOW panels are interchangeable under seats to provide for differing gullet requirements.
A. Narrow Gullett
B. Wider Gullett
C. Horse head lifted
A saddle MUST only sit on the rib cage of the horse. The panel of the saddle will sit slightly on the scapula and should end on or before the last (18th) rib.
With the horse standing SQUARE, you can measure from the top of the scapula to the last rib following the back roughly where the middle of the saddle panel will sit (indicated by the green dotted line). Check it on both sides as you will find a difference because of asymmetry.
Take the shortest measurement and you can determine the panel length needed.
Sometimes a rider seeks more comfort in a larger saddle than the back of the horse could normally accommodate. In a WOW saddle it is possible to have a larger seat on a smaller panel – meeting the needs of both horse and rider.
|Maximum Length||WOW Panel|
|46 cm (18″)||No. 0 Panel (16″)|
|48.5 cm (19″)||No. 1 Panel (17″)|
|51 cm (20″)||No. 2 Panel (18″)|
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FLAIR – THE AIR FLOCKING SYSTEM
Flair is Air Flocking. Yes, the panels of the saddle are filled with air! And, yes it is proven by pressure testing to be the best thing you can do for the comfort of your horse!
Wool and foam are options, but they compress, are harder to adjust and do not move with the horse.
Flair is a system of four air bags which provide a soft, flexible and even bearing surface without pressure points. Constant contact is made across the back, the air moves out of the way as the muscles flex, and returns as the back constantly changes shape.
Air compresses, giving inbuilt shock absorption. This assist the performance horse and many riders with injuries and ailments.
Unlike a flocked saddle, the adjustments are quickly made whilst the rider sits on the horse. You, or a WOW accredited saddle-fitter, can adjust and balance the saddle perfectly both front to back and side to side.
The Flair accommodates asymmetries in the horse such as uneven muscle development, often caused by poorly fitting saddles or injury. They can be re-adjusted as the horse, and rider, develops.
Flair air bags typically only need need further adjustment if your horse changes shape. For performance riders this may be often, for pleasure riders this may be seasonal or less often. Worried about making a mistake? Let the air out and do it again. air will not hurt your horse.
Trusted by Professionals
"The horses are all much freer through their shoulders both on the flat and when jumping. I love the ease of adaptability to fit different horses, being able to fine tune them and make subtle changes to the balance while on board which would be impossible in a traditionally flocked saddle."
"Since using the Wow saddle I have felt a huge difference in Affinity Bay's way of going. He has the ability to come up more through the shoulder which allows him more easily to come under with his quarters and 'sit' in work such as canter pirouettes."
"My horses are far to valuable to me in every way, to consider using something as vitally important as a saddle, for any reason other than the horse's ability to perform to the very best of its' ability& WOW and Flair are a major step forward in the way we saddle our horses."
"I chose to use my jump Wow saddle to be safe and secure in such a big atmosphere, and absolutely loved getting to gallop in the main arena Championship just before the Derby! Annacotty and I qualified for the RoR Tattersalls Show Final back in may at Stafford County Show. Riding in the Final at Hickstead in his first year of retraining was a dream come true."
Megan Davies tells us why she rates the WOW Jumping Saddle.
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