Crandell Debuts Heraldic Saddle

By June 10, 2013
ReactorPanel's Heraldic saddle in black.

ReactorPanel's new Heraldic saddle, developed in conjunction with top endurance competitor John Crandell, is proving popular among recreational riders.

Endurance rider John Crandell III has teamed with ReactorPanel to design a new lightweight saddle called the Heraldic, in honor of his champion mount.

Crandell said he loved the freedom of motion and adjustability of the classic ReactorPanel saddles, but thought they were too heavy for use in competition, so he approached the company with his ideas as to a new model.

ReactorPanel Saddle Company President Carmi Weininger said conversations began in 2012, and the firm was able to have a prototype ready in a few months. Crandell has been racing in the new saddle since it was delivered to him in July, continuing to provide feedback for improvement.

The Heraldic became commercially available earlier this year.“With ReactorPanel Saddles, you notice the extra freedom of motion that the horse has underneath you, which is tremendous,” Crandell said. “The horses are willing to become more supple in their backs. You might notice it first going downhill, where typical saddles tend to put extra pressure into the shoulder blades.

Heraldic saddle with Z fenders.

These saddles sit exactly where they are supposed to, with little or no tension or assistance from a crupper or breast collar. It particularly becomes apparent at the end of a long, long day of riding.”

With the tremendous conditioning required to be competitive in the sport of endurance, a horse’s back changes, develops and muscles up fairly rapidly, sometimes going through several configurations in a single season. “Adjustability is always an issue,” Crandell said, noting that he has always found the RP saddle fit particularly customizable.

Crandell said that while he always liked the RPs for training, “they were a bit heavier than I could compete in. I weigh almost 155 pounds and unless I have a little lighter saddle [I give] too much advantage to other competitors by being over the 165-lb weight minimum for FEI competitions.”

As per his design, the Heraldic saddle has the option of a very narrow seat, with almost nothing under the thigh area. “Like a lot of men, my hips are not that wide. It really helps you to ride [like] you stand. Your legs fall very comfortably straight underneath you without straining your hips or legs.

Crandell said he has been “making do with different saddles that had different drawbacks most of my career. This is the first time I have a saddle that fits me perfectly and fits the horse perfectly.”

RP spokeswoman Evie Holt said, “While we thought we were making a saddle for the elite endurance racing market, we are discovering that it is a great favorite of all sorts of trail and recreational riders who prefer a lightweight saddle” and want to feel close to their horse.

Crandell and Heraldic were the first – and so far only – pair to earn the American Endurance Triple Crown” – the Virginia Old Dominion 100, The Western States Tevis Cup and the AERC National Championship in 2006. Crandell and Heraldic won Tevis for the second time in 2010, won team and Individual silver medals at the Pan American Games in 2011 and represented the U.S. at the World Endurance Championships in England in 2012.

John Herldic and Crandell competing in the sport of endurance.

Heraldic competes in his eponymous saddle, with Crandell up. (Photo by Merri Melde /

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