Saddle Up

The name of a new horse saddle developed by Swedish industrial design firm Propeller is no lie. Called the Rebel, the modular carbon-fiber rig is about to shake up the world of horseback riding. It was designed for Linear, a new company founded by a traditional leather-and-wood saddle maker and a veterinarian who wanted to improve the health of horses while enhancing rider experience. “Old saddles were developed hundreds of years ago around a frame that didn’t spread the pressure evenly over the horse’s back,” product designer Gustav Nord explains. “The technical term is kissing spine—it curves the back until the vertebrae touch one another.” Nord and codesigner Fredrik Gosshé solved the problem with a lightweight ergonomic design that spreads the rider’s weight over a larger area while creating a closer connection with the animal for better steering and feel. The first saddles will ship this September.

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The laminated polyurethane foam seat, covered with a horsehair-and-rubber textile, breathes well and draws sweat away from the rider. The seats come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors so they can be swapped out for different users and riding styles.

The upper boom is made from carbon fiber and fits within the seat. A latch mechanism allows it to be fastened to and removed quickly from the lower boom.

The lower boom, also made from carbon fiber, holds self-adjusting stirrups. Whereas traditional stirrups are connected to the saddle in one place—creating a pressure point—the Rebel’s stirrups attach at two points to spread pressure over the entire saddle and slide into alignment when going up and down hills.

An ergonomic polyurethane foam frame, also lined with horsehair-and-rubber padding, provides a comfortable and secure connection to the horse. The thickness of the padding can be varied to suit the requirements of individual animals.

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