View Full Version : high withers and treeless

Jan. 20, 2008, 09:24 PM
I am in process of buying my 1st treeless! Most likely will be the Bandos Trail:) The horse I am looking at using it on has high withers. What pads would be recommended? I want to the do the combo package with the HAF pad from Chris, but I'm not sure that is really the correct pad for my guy.

Jan. 21, 2008, 01:14 PM
No, that is definitely not the right pad. Go with Skito, they make great pads and have all sorts of inserts and shims to solve nearly every conformational issue.


Jan. 21, 2008, 01:31 PM
a WEALTH of good info there!

Auventera Two
Jan. 21, 2008, 04:47 PM
Chic - Do you say that because they don't have inserts?

And I 2nd the treeless saddles Yahoo Group. There is TONS of activity there. Literally hundreds and thousands of posts about nothing but treeless saddles! Makes for great reading. :D

Jan. 21, 2008, 05:02 PM
I have posted on the yahoo group as well...my searches brought about more confusion!
I have definintely done a TON of reading since joining both forums!

Jan. 21, 2008, 06:26 PM
I was looking into treeless for my high-withered OTTB who also has a prominent backbone (I just uploaded a pic of us in my profile--don't look at my riding position, he was trying to sidestep because he hates to stand still). After trying a Barefoot on him and doing some research, I decided that I can't really be sure that even good padding prevents pressure on his backbone. So I'm staying with my treed Abetta. I really like how well you can feel the horse without a tree in the saddle, but for me, it wasn't worth the risk of causing my horse damage.

Let us know what you decide and how you pad the saddle. If it works for your horse, it might work for mine. ;)

Jan. 22, 2008, 07:53 AM
The Haf pad has inserts but only a relatively thin insert and soft insert. The softness is deceptive as it actually does work for a lot of riders/horses. I beleieve Chris of Freeform may have another insert not made by Haf that is a denser foam. But in my opinion, the pad won't hold thicker or layered inserts. Plus, you can't call up the mfgr and discuss what you need, and what the issue is. Tom of Skito will get right on the phone with you, ask you questions, maybe ask for photos of your horses back and design a pad for you and your horse. If the inserts aren't right he will make it right and not charge you again. Because he makes the pad he can make it so it will hold thicker inserts, has various materials for inserts and can laminate layers together so the saddle will clear the withers and spine, or fill hollows behind the withers or a sway back, etc. His customer support is the best!


Jan. 22, 2008, 12:57 PM
Different types of saddles are also better for withers/witherless.

I know it's a step up in price range, but the StarTrekk saddles have 'built in' pads. They have removeable/changeable/moveable panels which velcro on. Different thicknesses and materials. You can even use a normal pad with them on most horses. They resemble Reactor Panel panels pretty strongly, though they have more options.

They DO have a front arch, but there are 5 sizes. The #5 is slightly harder to aquire, but I got one from Germany in 10 days.

I daresay that by the time you spend $$$ on a single Skito pad plus shims etc., on top of the saddle price, you're only talking another 2 or 3 hundred to go to a StarTrekk. Yes, I know it's a lot, but... worth mentioning anyway. <shrugs>

And as someone who had been treeless for a long time before it was quite so popular... don't forget, CLEARANCE is not the same as PRESSURE. Things *can* touch in treeless, without creating pressure. Of course you don't want pressure points, but you can't always have clearance. It's not meant to be with certain designs.

Jan. 27, 2008, 10:52 PM
Chicamuxen1-Is there a website or anything that I can go to get a hold of Tom and send pictures?

Jan. 28, 2008, 08:10 AM
For Skito Saddle pads directly from the Mfgr go to http://carouseltights.com/. I suggest using their 1-800 number and asking to speak to Tom directly rather than emailing.

for the person who thinks they just can't trust that they would have spinal clearance, well you can. By the way, my neighbor has an Arabian with a prominent spine. The horse is typically ridden in a Bob Marshall Sport Saddle and a SMx Air-Ride saddle pad. I rode this horse with the owners tack and was shocked to find that I could feel the horses spine right thru the pad and saddle!!!! This horse is ridden by a heavyweight rider in 50-100 miles rides, has been competing for years and has never shown sore in the back! Talk about strange, as that ridge right under my tail bone felt really wrong to me. After that one ride I used one of my Skito pads with a medium insert and never felt that spine again. Trust me, Skito can make you a pad that will provide spinal clearance.

But, all inserts will probably eventually need to be replaced. You can buy new inserts at a very low price and just insert them into your saddle pad.


Jan. 29, 2008, 02:43 PM
or even tried a Bob Marshall treeless saddle? He makes them peaked (special order) for high withered horses. I just ask because I LOVE my BM saddles. They fit a wide range of horses, but not all horses. Over the years I've tried, purchased, borrowed other treed and treeless saddles and I just can't find one that is as comfy as my Bob Marshall. Just a thought. :)

Jan. 29, 2008, 05:07 PM
Yes I have considered the BM saddles, I actually am not crazy about the look honestly.
I have decided to get the Black Bandos Trail, and the HAF pads do have inserts and cut-outs for withers, so I'll get the package. Chris has been great working with me, so I don't believe I'll have issues if something isn't right.
Can't wait to get it and try it:D
Now I just have to measure him for the rest of the tack...He's an ackward one...Horse size halter too small, large horse (1200lb+) halter a little big!

Jan. 29, 2008, 08:24 PM
Yes I have considered the BM saddles, I actually am not crazy about the look honestly.

But have you ever TRIED/sat in/ridden in a BM saddle??? It's the most comfortable saddle I've ever owned. I "do" mounted search and rescue and these are the only saddles I use. Note: I do not sell them -- just love them. :yes:

When I first saw my now beloved gelding I thought he was ugly. Then I rode him. Now there's no amount of money you could offer me to get me to part with him. You even need to drive a car before you buy . . .

Jan. 29, 2008, 10:04 PM
Can't say that I have...I have tried a barefoot tho, very comfy as well! Maybe if I can find a local one I'll get to try one:) For my first treeless, cost wise, this was a great option.
I totally understand your analogy tho!

Auventera Two
Jan. 30, 2008, 10:17 AM
Bob Marshalls are fine if they fit your HORSE. It might be comfortable for YOU but you can't change the pommel and cantle around like you can in the Bandos or Barefoot types. You have to order it and have it made with the type of pommel you'll need forever. That just didn't appeal to me.

I rode in a BM, and yes, it was out of this world comfortable. But they're custom made for that one horse, and that assumes that that one horse doesn't change shape over its life.

My Arab got white hairs at the withers from a saddle that a saddle fitter told me fit perfectly. I just wouldn't want to buy a $1,200 custom saddle only to find out that the pommel is causing pressure. Particularly if you do rides with a lot of hills, I would think this would be a major issue. If you're sure you can get the pommel and cantle that will work with your horse, and you're sure that your horse will never change shape, then go for it. But that's too much uncertainty for me.

People go to extreme lengths for padding to make BMs fit their horse. All sorts of shims inside Skito pads. It just seemed like a whole lot of work to make a saddle fit. I've seen some BMs for sale on the net with comments about "just doesn't fit my horse anymore." What appeals to me most about treeless, is that you shouldn't have to worry about saddles that don't fit. If you get pressure under the stirrup hangers or something, you just work on the padding, or your own riding position. But I got away from trees for a reason, and don't want to go back to trying to make a hard pommel and cantle fit the horse.

Also what I like about the Bandos is the adjustable stirrup plate. Freeforms and some of the others are like this too. I have back and hip problems and some days I'm more comfortable with my legs further under me, and sometimes further out in front. You can't change that on a BM.

And that's only my OPINION on BMs. A lot of people really love them. I guess it just depends on what you're comfortable trying. I wasn't comfortable spending that much $$$ on a saddle that might not fit my horse If I wanted to mess with trees, I would have just bought a nice dressage saddle. Also, I ride a young horse who is changing shapes constantly and I don't know what her ultiamte shape will end up being.

And you're right - Chris is wonderful to work with :) Really nice guy! My Bandos came with a fairly narrow - high pommel. It didn't even come CLOSE to fitting my mutton withered yaks. But if you have a shark fin, I bet that pommel will fit really well. I was so surprised that the standard Bandos pommel is so narrow and high. I figured it would be fit more for table topped Arabs. But I suppose the thinking is that people with table topped Arabs can just stuff it with something soft.

Also - you can cut pieces of foam to insert in the pommel underneath the fiberglass so you have more cushion between the hard pommel and the horse. There's just enough room inside the pocket to do that. I bought a $20 memory foam bed pillow at Walmart and cut it up. But check the compression and recovery because they sell 2 different kinds. One feels just like normal foam, but the other one is really dense and recovers very slowly. That's the kind I got.