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Treeless saddles

I'm thinking of trying my horse in a treeless saddle and was wondering which ones people would reccomend. Would prefer something with a fairly narrow twist on the seat, mainly for dressage but also for hacking and occasional jumping

He has been working in a LM treed saddle, but has just had some bodywork and we think his back is sore where the back of the saddle ends. He's only 14hh and doesn't have much length of back to fit a saddle too. We've tried him in a shorter treed saddle and that didn't help.

It depends on your budget really.

I ride an 18 1/2 inch Ideal Jessica dressage saddle - Flaired - with a very narrow twist and a lowered pommel. Because I'm a bloke and we are shaped different....

Cost me a bit because it had to be altered specially for me - and it is the most comfortable saddle I have ever sat in.

We have an Ideal Highland and Cob VSD for McKelvey and he is very happy in that.

Have tried a few of the treeless saddles borrowed, and ridden other horses in treeless saddles and I hated all of them - they just don't feel right - I am uncomfortable and because of that so is horse. Too much nothing there.

My OH has a Startrek saddle - the big western one - that's horrible.

Must admit I always ride Apollo in the Parelli bareback pad - it is the most comfortable thing for both of us and I've only fallen off once!!!  Laughing That was when we were trotting along and he stopped dead for a particularly tasty looking clump of Yarrow!  Laughing

Re: Treeless saddles

Sooph wrote:

He has been working in a LM treed saddle, but has just had some bodywork and we think his back is sore where the back of the saddle ends. He's only 14hh and doesn't have much length of back to fit a saddle too. We've tried him in a shorter treed saddle and that didn't help.

I'm not sure how a treeless saddle will make any difference to this?

(Personally, I would get in contact with Steph from native pony saddles - (contact details on this page ) she has lots of experience with small, short backed ponies and is a fountain of knowledge!)

I use a Startrekk dressage saddle and it doesn't feel very different to a treed to me (or my sharer). But since we have been doing longer rides (10-15 miles now and hopefully starting endurance riding) and I am not exactly lightweight, I have decided to go the Reactor Panel road and am putting the Startrekk for sale. If you are not too far, you are welcome to try it.
Before buying the Startrekk, I had a Heather Moffett saddle fitter come to try the Vogue but it was too long for my mare's back and kept slipping backward (my mare is built uphill with a high wither).

Difficult to try to find pics where we can see the saddle, but this sorts of give an idea:

(that's our 2nd dressage show ever  Embarassed )

Sorry if this is wrong... But if there are problems at the back is the saddle big enough for you or are you riding short?

I use a libra Trec as I am worried about my bum being on the cantle of a treed saddle. I'm not sure how much weight I would trust on the Trec though. I love it as does pony - she hates treed saddles

Thanks for all the replies

Sez - budget wise would prefer something I can buy second hand (so ideally max 700), but will do whatever I can to make him comfortable. Already have a collection of balance/flair/normal saddles ('Embarassed')- think I need to start selling some of these which would help further with budget.

I've tried several different makes of treed saddles but he's quite active behind and not a traditional flat cob shape so all of them move aganist his back (with or without me on board) and rub at the end of the saddle. The saddle rubs behind where I sit, if I can get him to lift his back and carry himself then it doesn't rub, however we can't do this consitently. I was hoping through correct riding to change the shape of his back so he would develop more topline and have a less dipped back and the saddle would move less, however this isn't working. The thought with a treeless saddle is that this will cause less trauma than a more solid tree where it meets his back, and also allow more room for his shoulder.

I borrowed a Fhoenix saddle from a friend yesterday and he was much more forward and felt freer in his body, but feels very different to riding in a treed saddle. I have previously ridden in one of Kay Humphries treeless saddles, which I found easier to ride in (on a previous horse). Also wondering about the Startrekk (Watson - thanks for the pics and info) or the torsion saddles.

I have a Dartmoor treefree which really suits horsey but it's horses for courses and what suits one won't suit another. Whether you buy treed or treeless always go for a good make as there is a lot of copycat rubbish out there.  E-bay quite often have well priced Torsion saddles for sale.

A friend has a very short backed large 16.2 warmblood and her reactor panel saddle has been causing her some problems. She has a Dartmoor treefree which she loves and the horse is comfortable in but she finds it not up to the job for eventing so needs a jumping saddle too hence the reactor panel.

For 700 you can get a decent second hand one.

Your (bonnie) mare looks like The Tank's shape - he is short backed, but 16hh Very Happy

I love my Freeform but in the future I will get a Freemax as it's the same design only cheaper and easier to get hold of in the UK.

I borrowed and tried a HM but felt unstable in it.

I do like Trekkers - have you looked on their website? They have some lush ones (but they're around 1500). They're on my buy list for my collection Wink

Torsion were great, in 2001 when treeless saddles were new to the market. The designs have moved on now - but sadly Torsion have not. I love my 2001 Torsion to bits - but I wouldn't bother buying a new one.

I think for that budget (and if the HM was no good) then I'd be looking for a second hand Solution. You may need to add another 100 to your budget though - however they do hold their value should you wish to sell on. That was you get a saddle you can trust and it still looks traditional.
(The TB Rehabilitation Centre use these)

Solution has an unofficial FB page where people advertise their saddles.

I used to have a Startrekk Icelandic (similar to Startrekk Dressage model). It did not fit my horse well and left him with some muscle atrophy behind the shoulders. This saddle looks like a traditional leather saddle, the only solid piece being a metal gullet plate (similar to what's in a Wintec or Thorowgood). The problem was that the ends of the gullet plate, unsupported by a tree, dug in behind the shoulders.
Other things I didn't like (on hind sight, having learned more about saddle fit) is that the channel was quite narrow, and the panels of the saddle "overstuffed", a bit like sausages, rather than with a flat underside. The saddle was also too long for my 14.1h gelding, despite being the shorter/smaller size.

I guess what I've learned from this is that treeless saddles need to be fit just as carefully as treed saddles. I am now a bit weary of semi-treeless saddles that still have some rigid parts in them. I sat on the new HM saddle (the economy model, forget the name). It is similar in concept to the Startrekk I had, with a leather "tree" to give some structure, and a metal gullet plate to keep the pommel off the withers. I don't know if I'd trust this concept again, as I'd fear that the gullet points might lead to pressure points.

It is a risk with the pommel insert style treeless.

Two friends got Dream Team saddles and both had problems, one quite seriously when the pommel insert had snapped and dug into the shoulder of the mare - brand new saddle too Mad

The sellers were rather vile about refunding too Mad

I've got a solution and we both love it.  You can rent them to try for a week or so and if you buy it does not cost you.  I did this just to make sure we were both happy with it first.  Only thing I don't like about it is it will slip if I get on from the ground which is not ideal for hacking out where I live as there are millions of gates that cannot be done from horseback.  That aside it is a fantastic saddle and v comfortable.

Depending on your budget the 'mondial industries holistic supreme' saddle is worth a try, although they are expensive.  I sold mine as was more into jumping at the time, and found that the position of the stirrup bar was too far back and not helping me with my problem of tipping forwards.

I have tried 2 barefoot models, the cheyenne and the (western) nevada.  Both extremely comfortable, but neither models had gullets as they were the old style, and chiropractor wasn't happy with how they were putting pressure on their backs.  The newer barefoots have gullets I believe so may be better, and they are a lot cheaper than the mondials.  They do one called 'London' which is the dressage version, although I don't have any experience personally.

Just had a look at the
'mondial industries holistic supreme'

looks lovely, but quite pricey!

Are the solution saddles the same as the Ansur saddles - I've tried Dom in an 18" ansur - far to big for both of us, but he definately didn't like it

Ansur sold to Solution Saddle many years ago.

The saddles have changed since then, but their reputation is still excellent.

I haven't heard good things from the Mondial saddles, although they are beautiful.

maggie345 wrote:

Other things I didn't like (on hind sight, having learned more about saddle fit) is that the channel was quite narrow, and the panels of the saddle "overstuffed", a bit like sausages, rather than with a flat underside. The saddle was also too long for my 14.1h gelding, despite being the shorter/smaller size.

Mine is the old version with velcroed panels. They are flat and you can adjust the width of the channel. It's interesting because I have the opposite problem than you had. I find the panels are too small and short (they are significantly shorter than on my previous 17"5 Wintec saddle).

Anybody tried the Freemax Western or other ?

SBS are lovely, my mum has one for her cob who is also called Dom Very Happy he looks a similar shape of back in that he has withers and they do dressage up to elementary, pleasure rides and TREC with small jumps. The twist is not very narrow though - worth a try maybe, to see whether you could get on with it? They are 18" in theory, but often you will get away with it on a shorter backed horse because of the way the weight is distributed differently without a tree.

I tried a Fhoenix on mum's Dom years ago (errr 2006?) he hated it and it gave him fluidy lumps under the stirrup bars Sad. He's never had an issue with the SBS and mum loves it so much she now has two!

I love the SBS saddles too - I have a bum-high 'typical' fatcob and a wiiiide TBx (who is pictured in my signature, all those photos are of me riding in the SBS), they both go really well in theirs, have lovely strong well muscled backs and have never had any issues relating to saddling.

If I might add my experience here too....

As someone said before me it is important to fit treeless saddles as they are all different.

The newer Barefoot saddles are much better than the old gullet-less ones.

The Freemax western (no experience of english) are very rigid when new (like a treed saddle). So have not fitted anything when new. Over a few months they do soften up, but have personally never seen a softened one on a horse to check fit.

By LM, do you mean Lavinia Mitchell? If so, have you had her back out to check the fit recently? Maybe a little tweak is all it needs?

Torsion saddles - we had one of those and have seen a number of them on horses and they do not seem to spread the pressure well. All the weight seems to be towards the back of the saddle.

Startrekk - they are funny saddles that do not seem to fit that well. Not that they will necessarily cause discomfort but they have a tendency to slip back. They are very comfortable for the rider.

Is the rub actually under the saddle or under the pad?

Western saddles (well fitting ones) can be fantastic for shorter backed horses believe it or not - as long as the tree is short enough for the horses ribcage. As the saddle sits over the shoulders - therefore it gives more seat space.

Have you tried using a pressure testing pad under your saddle to see where the pressures are? Smile

Thank you westernsaddler for your very good advice  Wink

Startrekk - they are funny saddles that do not seem to fit that well. Not that they will necessarily cause discomfort but they have a tendency to slip back. They are very comfortable for the rider.

No they are not - most uncomfortable saddle I've ever sat in. Horrible thing. Don't know why the OH let herself get spoken into buying it - well she likes it I think  Laughing

I'm going to have to find a new saddle for Link soon - it's a quandary - someone with strong  opinions say his saddle does not fit him, but Kay Hastilow fitted it and says it's just perfect, and so did another local saddle fitter. It is flaired - fits perfectly to his shape, maybe a bit too perfectly and I wonder if he's loosing a little muscle below his withers  it fits me- but he is high and very sharp withered indeed. He looks like he is wearing the shape of his saddle though.

I've never found anything that is as comfortable and sits me in the right place - the torsion treeless had me way too far back, I tried another wider fit saddle padded out and he just bucked - tried a few other  treeless saddles from friends and he was not happy in any of them.

Fussy ginger pain!

I have an ansur classic/solution energist and love it, the horses have really muscled up underneath it and I find it really comfortable.  Bizarrely enough when the rep came out I tried the one with the gullet and the one without, and he much preferred the one without!  

However, after deciding I was interested in treeless I had a trial with a torsion (didn't like it) and borrowed a freeform from a friend (didn't like it, but horse really went well in it, until I took it off and found that it was starting to rub a hole in him), and the solutions was the third I tried (we both liked it!).

If you're interested in treeless I would really recommend narrowing it down and then paying a small amount for the trial period/rep visit that most of the companies offer, or borrowing from friends, to try some out.  It may cost a bit, but it'll cost a lot less than ending up with another saddle that turns out to be useless, then after you find one you both like you can probably pick one up for a lot less second hand.

Thanks for the replies,

Lavinia has looked at the saddle before and we have tried lots of her saddles and come to the conclusion mine was the best fit of all of them, although not ideal. Lavinia did suggest that I could try sending my saddle back to her saddler for the panels shortening at the back if it didn't work, however this will cost approx 300 which I think I may be better putting towards a treeless saddle instead. I have played around with the padding myself and if Dom goes correctly the saddle doesn't rub, but if he isn't carrying himself perfectly it rubs at the end of the panels.

I have tried it with a port lewis pad which suggested there was pressure at the front of the saddle, however I'm not 100% convinced by the reading as it's difficult under all the padding and without the padding the saddle fits differently.

Dom's also been recently diagnosed with hock spavin, however I recently took him to see a bodyworker who I have a lot of faith in. She doesn't think he has spavin, and treated him saying the problems in his back end are saddle related, but he's not quite right in front...

In the fhoenix saddle he's definately moving better and is much more free in his shoulders, although he's not 100% sound in front at present Forum Index -> UKNHCP Barefoot Community
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