View Full Version : Bob Marshall Endurance VS. Barefoot Atlanta

Golden Pony
Oct. 15, 2009, 11:07 PM
I am sitting on the fence about my Barefoot Atlanta. I love the fit, the feel, the ride, basically everything except the rigging (english girth and stirrup "points") and the removable seat (have pulled way too much trash out after a long ride). I rode in a friends BMSS endurance and loved the rigging and stirrups and it left a great sweat pattern. My only concern is that the center seam that runs down the seat would rub in the wrong places after a long ride - I don't care for seat savers, I like to keep things as simple as possible. SO - talk to me about the pros and cons of your BMSS and Barefoots:confused:

Oct. 15, 2009, 11:42 PM
My only concern is that the center seam that runs down the seat would rub in the wrong places after a long ride

Disclaimer: I don't do endurance, just mostly eventing and foxhunting. However, I have 2 BMSS models -- one a trail saddle and one for my barrel racing lessons. (Don't laugh!) I've used them for trail riding and for starting my youngsters over the past 3 years.

I love the BMSS, especially the feel of the horse, and, as GP said, the sweat pattern. The center seam has never been an issue. Now, for me, a "long ride" is 3 hours, and I guess that ain't much in the endurance world, but that's my two cents.:)

Oct. 15, 2009, 11:44 PM
I've never ridden the Barefoot, but have the BMSS endurance model and LOVE it! I have never had an issue with the center seam rubbing. I'm not an endurance rider, but I've done 6+ hours in that saddle, and been able to walk afterwards :)

Mine is the basic endurance model in black endurance leather. There are a ton of options, but I didn't customize a thing. It's very comfy with just the basics.

If you go the BMSS route, I would recommend swapping out the stirrups that come with the saddle for something like the EZ Ride ones. Oh, and I'm sure you know this, but you do need a treeless pad. I have the Skito, and have also heard good things about the HAF.

Here's a link to a photo of me, my Arab, and the Bob Marshall on the trail: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30142319&l=29b6f8e71f&id=1422642990

Oct. 15, 2009, 11:46 PM
I have never ridden in one, but my husband borrowed a horse and BMSS for a camping trip and he didn't complain, and if someone were to have an issue, it would be him! We were riding in hilly (WI hilly, not out West mountain hilly) terrain and rides were 3-4 hours long.

Oct. 16, 2009, 08:24 AM
Been competing in endurance with the BMSS for 11 years. I haven't eve been bothered by the center seam. On the other hand, since I don't do a lot of walking type of riding I'm not sitting all that much. IMO the BMSS has a better twist that the Barefoot saddles. I bought and sold a Barefoot London a few years back. I can tell you that IMO the BMSS is much better at actual rider weight distribution when the riders weight is in the stirrups. A large number of the treeless saddles have the stirrups mounted from a pretty narrow strap that passes over the center of the saddle. When you stand in the stirrups the rider's weight is concentrated into a small area on the horse's back. If you ride largely seated then there is not difference between most of them. There are exceptions to this design.

yes, you really need to get a good pad with foam inserts, that is designed for treeless saddles.

Bonnie S.

Golden Pony
Oct. 16, 2009, 08:35 AM
Chicamuxen1 - I'm glad you posted about the stirrups and weight distribution, that's one of my other concerns. I am a former hunt seat rider so I do spend a lot of time in 2-point. I try to ride light in the seat and strirrups using my knees and thighs for balance and even still am finding that the sweat pattern where the stirrups hangers are is different than the the rest of the saddle.

I was hoping that the new VPS system in the Barefoots was going to make it better at weight distribution than the BMSS, but I got such a nicer pattern in my friends BMSS! And I do use a Skito made for the Barefoot:)

Oct. 16, 2009, 10:22 AM
another saddle you should take a look at is the Freeforms. They have many models and have just come out with a new design so there are many of the older saddles up for sale, sellers want the new models. They have a very english feel to them and good weight distribution. Only problem I found was with dipped backs or high butt conformation horses. But they are very popular.

I also have a Sensation English trail model and as long as you use either the hard use or endurance use stirrup setup then the weight distribution is pretty good. Very, very comfy, better twist than most.


Oct. 16, 2009, 11:57 AM
Also take a look at the Black Forest Ponderosa Town and Country.

It's very similar to the Atlanta but with Western rigging.


Oct. 16, 2009, 01:55 PM
Do you know how the stirrups are attached on the Black Forests? Are they attached with a narrow strip that passes over the horse's back like someone else mentoined? I tried to find it on the site but didn't see it shown and I forgot to ask when I was talking to the company earlier this week. I am looking at the Aspen.

Ann Szolas

[QUOTE=Leather;4441396]Also take a look at the Black Forest Ponderosa Town and Country.

It's very similar to the Atlanta but with Western rigging.


Oct. 16, 2009, 02:26 PM
Look at the Forest Shasta Lite pics. One shows the stirrup leather rings and how they are stitched to the saddle, with the seat removed. All the saddles have the same attachment. This is what I described as hung by a strap across the center of the saddle.

Some saddles have the rings stiched in place, some have it on a wide velcro in place strip so the stirrups can be moved forward and back. the Sensation has a plastic "butterfly" insert within the panels to stiffen the center of the saddle a bit and spread the stirrup weight out better. It helps some. The Sensation has two other ways to attach the stirrups that does improve the weight distribution quite a lot. This stirrup weight issue is one of the major issues for users of treeless saddles, so you need to consider your own riding style, what type of riding you will be doing, your weight, hours spent in the saddle, etc., before choosing a saddle. I've bought 6 types of treeless saddles and had to reject 4 of them. there's more that I would try if I could afford to do so.

Bonnie S.

Oct. 16, 2009, 03:04 PM
Thanks Bonnie. One of the reasons I am looking at the Black Forest saddles is because they are close enough that I can haul to them and have my horse fitted by them. He has huge shoulders with a hollow behind his withers that is causing me trouble with fitting, that is why I had to quit using my treed saddle, those hollows showed up and it doesn't fit anymore.

I got a custom BMSS last month and am selling it. I tried one out just like it and it worked but this one is too narrow and slides back, go figure. It is also too long, I am a heavy rider and those BM's get very long in the larger sizes. He does sweat very nicely in it though. :)

Ann Szolas

Oct. 16, 2009, 03:24 PM
a very big part of the fit of any treeless saddle is a saddle pad with foam inserts. I prefer the Skito pads as you can order insert of varying thicknesses and density but MOST IMPORTENTLY, you can then customize the fit of the saddle by trimming and shaping the foam inserts. A horse with dips behind the shoulders needs to have a pad with very thick foam inserts. Then the front 2" of the inserts can be trimmed thinner, using an electric carving knife or a serated bread knife. This thinner foam will fit up over the shoulder muscles. The thinner foam tapers into the thicker foam which will fill the hollow behind the shoulder blades. Then on many horses the back 6" if the inserts should be gradually tapered to the back edges. This allows for the gradual ride of the loins. Tom at Skito can custom trim inserts for you but I like to shape them myself. This is like being able to reflock a treed saddle for you horse. You can use the insert customizing to fix the fit of treed saddle too.

I would bet that any saddle put on your horses back will slide backwards unless you fill those hollows with customized inserts. I went thru this with my first endurance horse. I got rid of my first BMSS because I didn't know that it needed to be placed up over the shoulder muscles and that I needed to fill that hollow behind her big shoulders with trimmed inserts. It slid into the hollows and bumped against the back edge of her shoulder muscles creating a thickening on each side. Later I noticed that all of my endurance riding budies set their BMSS saddles further forward. the light went on and I called Tom who explained to me how I, ME, MYSELF, could fix the fit issue. WOW! what a deal! I've been trimming pad foam for years now.

Bonnie S.

Oct. 16, 2009, 06:39 PM
I have been working with Tom on this issue, nothing has worked yet. My treed saddle has never slipped back, I've used it for 12 years on this horse and have never used a breastplate.

Part of why I am giving up after only 2 sets of inserts and a bunch of modifications is that this is a really long saddle, it really is too long for my horse. Especially when the front of it is down in those hollows and the back is up on his croup.

Ann Szolas

Golden Pony
Oct. 17, 2009, 10:18 AM
Ann - What model and size seat is your BMSS that makes it so long? Can you give us a measurement from front to back of the base? I ask because although my Haffie mare is "average" backed, my Haffie gelding is short backed and I would like to use a BMMS inter-changeably between the two horses.

Bonnie - I think you are in NoVa, too? I may have to hire you to come make shims for my guys!

On another note - does anyone know what the "core" of the BMSS is made of? Barefoot, Sensation, and Freeform all give specific info on what their saddles are made of and how the cores are constructed, but I can't find any info on this about Bob Marshalls'. Just curious - it must be their secret!

Oct. 17, 2009, 01:58 PM
Mine is an 18 1/2 inch monster. :) It is 32" from front to back. My 17" treed saddle is only 26" front to back. Now I'm kind of looking at a Freeform and the base is only 22". Kind of spendy though, especially since I will have to buy a pad too. Of course I want the most expensive model.

Edited to add that it is the deluxe endurance with the basic endurance pommel.

Ann Szolas