I have been campaigning for this change for some time (it is normally bareback).
I know that some people feel that riding bareback is not necessarily good for the horse's back and that a well made and well fitting saddle is kinder on the horse's back. I haven't seen the scientific evidence one way or the other (I'm not saying there isn't any, just that I haven't investigated in any great detail) but I do believe that someone's choice to use a saddle should be respected. For me, Equagility has always been about bitless/ bridle less riding, not about bareback riding. By all means, go bareback for fun if you are confident enough and can balance, but I have always felt that this excludes alot of people who can't or don't want to ride bareback. The point of Equagility has always been to ride from voice, seat, weight and breath aids and not the horse's mouth. To this end, I would much rather see someone achieve light, stable and balanced riding from the seat, rather than unbalanced, tight and insecure riding bareback. Lastly, there is rider confidence. I work with a number of less confident riders and the thought of going bareback is closer to their panic zone than their comfort zone. This excludes quite alot of people who would love to have a go and who could have fun and benefit from having a go at ridden obstacles. Allowing a saddle makes Equagility more inclusive and more accessible for more riders and I'm delighted to see this change in the Summer of Sport :-)