View Full Version : Are There Any Inexpensive Treeless Dressage Saddles That Are Good?

Jan. 23, 2011, 04:38 PM
Hi Guys,

I'm curious if there are any economically priced treeless dressage saddles that are good for the horse and the rider's position? Is there a "wintec" of treeless dressage saddles?

What are the treeless dressage saddles that are good and which are the ones to avoid?


Jan. 23, 2011, 05:11 PM
As for me, all of the treeless saddle should be avoid as they are not made to be used for real, good, dressage training sessions (which I've seen stated on big brand treeless saddle websites...oh, and they aren't made for jumping either, just in case you'd be doing both discipline and there is usually also a rider weight limit.)

Never seen any riders having a good dressage position in a treeless saddle.

I would rather ride bareback. Actually I do!

As for being expensive or not, I prefer buying an used really really good saddle for the same price as a not so good new one.

Jan. 23, 2011, 05:48 PM
Well here would be my terrible dressage position in my terrible treeless dressage saddle not built for upper level dressage then...


How about actually researching the treeless dressage saddle options before lumping them all into the same category? :)

I ride in a Startrekk Treeless. (Mine is actually the icelandic model)
http://www.saddlingsolutions.com/ST.html (the US rep)

Here is the maker, it's all in German, but if you scroll down, it shows the underside of the saddle, regular wool flocked pannels:

Economical? No. They run $1750 new and you will rarely ever see one anywhere used. I have wool flocked panels like any other saddle, i have a nice wide gullet channel and plenty of wither clearance. I chose the icelandic because it has a front point billet for my wide no withered mare (not pictured), unfortunately it no longer works for her as she has gotten rounder with time, aka shaped like a box, it now slides side to side. But on everything else, i LOVE it. It's got the softest seat on the planet for me, i rub terribly, as in bleeding, i can ride in this for hours, never had any issues. I did remove the "ribs" but you can leave them in for a firmer treed feel if you do not like that soft of a seat.

Startrekk also carries an all purpose model and i would have no qualms jumping in it... I've never had sore backs from my saddle, i've had it for 2yrs.

Cheapest dressage treeless would probably be a Freemax, sold in the UK, a dealer on ebay carries it. I owned this saddle as well. It has NO twist, and this is a common problem with treeless saddles, so you will have a harder time getting your leg down long with it. It also has no flocking, the bottom is just flat. It will mold to the horse, and i never had a horse object in it. I personally had a hard time riding in it because of the lack of twist. Hard to see it in this pic, but one of the only ones i have of it on a horse:

It cost about $550 with shipping at the time i bought it (roughly 3yrs ago). Nice soft leather on it, very deep seat. I think the key with this one would be to own a VERY nice pad. I use thinlines with everything, treed or not. This saddle would NOT help you up the levels, maybe if you had a really long leg. (i'm only 5'3, i have a long thigh, but i'm not a tall lanky rider) But that lack of twist, it makes it hard. This saddle dues not have any type of wither clearance, so again, pad is key, it needs to allow some time of channel for the spine and this saddle would NOT work on a high withered shark fin type of horse.

All of the cheap treeless saddles you see on ebay will be just that, cheap crap.

Editing to add: And NO one knows my saddle is treeless, nor would anyone by looking at it, flipping it over, etc... But it's wonderful to really feel my horses movement without a gosh darn block of wood between me and them!

Jan. 23, 2011, 06:06 PM
Well here would be my terrible dressage position in my terrible treeless dressage saddle not built for upper level dressage then...


Did I click on the wrong picture? I don't see an upper level horse here.


Jan. 23, 2011, 06:25 PM
Nope, she's only training level. The main statement being:
"Never seen any riders having a good dressage position in a treeless saddle."

Can you give me a good reason why i couldnt take her up the levels in this saddle? Last i knew, saddle choice is extremely personal depending on what the rider is comfortable in, what helps vs what hinders. If we all tried to prance around at grand prix in the slick, flat seated saddles with no knee rolls of 25+yrs ago, we would all suck... I cant see a single reason why my startrekk would hinder an upper level horse...

I dont think you'll see treeless saddles at the upper levels until the upper level riders are sponsored by a treeless saddle maker. So we cant say they couldnt be. But my point is, treeless saddles are as different as treed saddles. You cant lump them all together and say every treed saddle is like a hennig... They are like comparing apples and oranges from one brand to the next.

Economical though... What good saddle is?

Jan. 23, 2011, 07:07 PM
Doesn't Heather Moffet ride to a rather high level? or some of her students, etc? http://www.enlightenedequitation.com/

I got my HM SBS flexion under $800 on ebay, and I've seen some ansur's on ebay sell for around $600. I even saw a mondial sell for $250 on ebay last year. If you keep your eyes open there are good deals, especially now.

though you'll find the occasional person who claims they're happy, in general the cheap junk treeless saddles on ebay are a waste of money. They usually have close to no spine clearance, foam used is not good quality and can compress and cause pressure points (a good saddle is meant to spread out the pressure of the rider), the stirrup bars are hung incorrectly, uneven or in such a way that posting causes a massive pressure point. Lots of the horror stories one hears about treeless ("treeless destroyed my horse's back!") are often because of using cheap treeless or poorly fitting treeless.

Getting a good, well made, well fitted treeless is just as important as getting a good treed saddle. Just because its treeless doesn't mean it fits everything.

If you're really in a bind and can't spend much at all, perhaps look into a good bareback pad or cashel saddle. The thinline bareback pad is looking pretty good.

google around, you'll find plenty. this site is a pretty good starting point for learning about different brands http://treelesssaddles.blog.co.uk/

Jan. 23, 2011, 07:24 PM
I have a baretek bareback pad that i love. I dont know that they are made anymore, which means they come up at good deals used. New they used to retail for $300 or so. I picked mine up on ebay like new for $75, and it does a lot to help me work on body position. They only come in one size, i would say it would work best if you ride in a 17-17.5" saddle.


Is a pic of it, tackwholesale.com is selling them, but i think you can find them cheaper if you search around. They are suede, so you've got some grip, and it's a good size knee roll on it too, which helps give some added security. I love to trail ride in mine.

I've heard the cashels are really comfy, but the stirrup position is a bit forward, so it might slide you into a chair seat, dont know personally. Havent sat in it.

This is another bareback pad that i LOVE, but cant afford...

There are some US dealers if you search around, it's usually $300-400 from what i've found it. Cant bring myself up to pay that much for a bareback pad... But man, it's like heaven to sit on!

Jan. 23, 2011, 08:49 PM
I got what was purported to be a Baretek pad from tackwholesale.com and it looks nothing like the item pictured. It's not cr*p, but it's not that nice. And it didn't fit my horse; she has a deep shoulder and prominent withers and it would not set anywhere near them... was back nearly to the start of her croup! (She is small -- takes a size 72 or 74 blanket.)

I can see it being a nice choice for a rounder, flatter-withered horse, though.

Jan. 23, 2011, 09:06 PM
I've only used it on my cob pony and my husbands percheron, both rather rotund... (though cob takes a 69" blanket, and the baretek fits her fine) Maybe wholesaletack is selling a knock off? The baretek.com website doesnt seem to work, so i'm guessing maybe they arent made anymore. I know mine is a good 5yrs old if not older and is, i'm assuming, an original. Though i would probably not use it on a horse with a bigger wither, dont know that it would be real comfortable, though you dont have stirrups, there isnt anything to pull the pad down onto the wither, but i know mine is a little stiff, i do use it over a nice fleece toklat pad with my flat thinline in between.

Jan. 23, 2011, 09:54 PM
I'm going to go out on a limb and assume you are looking at treeless because you considered wintec your last resort and it was a no go.
you may have more success finding the right saddle for you and your horse (treed or not) by posting pictures of your horse's back from every angle and posting your price limit. you'd be amazed what the power of thousands of posters can bring. :yes:

as to treeless, they are not my fave. I prefer wool flocked high end saddles (which can be found for a song if you look hard)

Jan. 24, 2011, 07:09 AM
I've been taking lessons in an Ansur and tho I really thought I would hate it, I absolutely love it.

Dressage newbie here...but if one is entirely dependant on a saddle for position, does one actually have good position in the first place? Not being snarky...serious question.
I'm not trying to reach GP level, so as far as upperlevelness, it won't apply anyhow. :)

My cob baby at 18 months has already well passed wide.I can't fathom where that back is going, so I'm going for an Ansur after riding in one.

The key is obviously, one has to have a seat to begin with, and not be dependant on the saddle.
I mount from the ground and the saddle doesn't slip...thought at canter I'd feel unstable.
Not at all. In fact I have fallen in love with the contact and hate when I have to ride in my Albion!!!

I see them on ebay now and then but so far not in my size

Jan. 24, 2011, 11:30 AM
I prefer wool flocked high end saddles

I'm going to sound like a broken record, so i'm sorry... ;) Startrekk (made by a high end German saddle company Deuber & Partner) makes two different dressage models that ARE WOOL FLOCKED.

I've ridden in the Ansur Elite and really liked it myself, i just cant afford one and only seem to find the classics on ebay, which i didnt like. I'm curious if the Elite would work on my cob, as now my startrekk does not. I would hate to find out if it did and have to fork over the cash for one! :D

And to the original poster that said you shouldn't jump in a treeless, i love the rider of the month on the Ansur site...

I do agree with the poster i quoted, posting pictures of your horses back shape here could give you TONS of help in finding a saddle that could work. Through this board, i've found my cob mare's siblings that have similar backs and presently have a Niedersuss Olympik shipping to me to try it out as that is what seems to fit the others well.

I do not like treeless just because it can fit a multitude of horses, or the one that is hard to fit. I like it because it moves with the horse, something a fixed tree can not do. I compare it to a pair of shoes, my tennis shoes flex and give for optimum comfort while running and doing strenuous activity, if i were to put on a shoe that has a thin strip of rigid material in it and try to run... Even with all the padding and arch support between that rigid piece and my foot, i could not run as well as i could in the flexible shoe. Would this not be the same for our horses? Sure some treeless saddles are junk and cause pressure points from the stirrup bars, but treeless saddles are evolving and becoming just as good if not better than treed saddles. I am not anti treed saddles, i just mentioned i've bought a Niedersuss... However, i much prefer the tree of a WOW, which i also owned and adored until the configuration i had would not work with my wide cob mare and could not afford to get new panels for it at the time. That is really a great saddle for all those people that insist a horse needs trees for weight distribution, at least that saddle can swing with your horse's back. And it's high end.

Jan. 24, 2011, 02:10 PM
....and I don't think my position is that horrid. Honestly, if you can maintain your position without relying on the saddle to keep you there, many of the treeless options available will be just fine.

The young mare was nervous, but I'm fairly balanced here in my old Ansur Classic:

Same mare trying her best to shy at the judges booth. I'm half halting, but still, the saddle is not hindering me at all.

So, don't lose heart if you really think treeless is the best option for you and your horse. My current Ansur is a Carlton that I picked up used for $900.00.

There isn't a treed dressage saddle on the planet that works for the mare's shoulders as well as the Ansur treeless. They're just too broad.

If you can, try before you buy. It would save alot of aggravation, buying and selling different models until you found one that works for both of you.

Jan. 24, 2011, 04:41 PM
Well here would be my terrible dressage position in my terrible treeless dressage saddle not built for upper level dressage then...

Sorry but, you seem to be perched on top of your saddle, pelvis on reverse with your leg a bit too much backward and your upper body tilting forward. Gripping with your knees.
I understand that you are a training/1 level rider and that it is normal but still, this saddle is not helping you. ( I would try lowering your stirrup one hole and heels down!)

As for Heather Moffett's riding, her legs shows the same problem in the first picture with the gray horse. And except the fact that she seems to be a quite good rider, achieving the highest movements, she doesn't seem to have compete much. (And I don't know what's in her horse's mouth...)

I've done some research and just wasn't pleased with what I've found.
Go check on Barefoot saddle website:http://www.happyhorsebacksaddles.ca/FAQ.html
Not more than 3' for jumping. Not for long hours training.
Not for heavier people unless buying another extra padding.

And about your Startrekk saddle, there was a review posted on their website, from a French magazine. Actually, I don't understand why they put it on because it is not really a flattering article in itself...http://startrekk.fr/cheval_pratique.html
St├ęphane Delavaux about the dressage saddle (he is a pro jumper rider but still): As soon as he started the sitting trot, he felt he was being tossed around like a beginner. His pelvis went backward, couldn't put his back straight, his knee was going back too and so he couldn't even change his body position...As for the endurance saddle Delfin, he's not too sure about doing an 8hrs trail and felt trapped in it.

Black Forrest saddle: Light jumping only is fine with their saddle.

This is a jumping Ansur saddle from their website (look carefully on the construction...Am I the only one seeing that it is crooked?)(at least they could put their best pictures...) http://www.ansursaddle.com/Resources/item7g.jpeg

So as for now, I've not been convince at all that treeless saddles are superior to a well fitted treed saddle.

And those treeless saddle are becoming more and more 'semi-rigid', 'flexi-treed', with pomel and canter structure to reinforce the saddle in itself...looking more and more like treed saddle....so why don't just going for a nice used high end real dressage saddle with a good fitting session.

I believe this is more of a trend like the 'natural this and that' than a real innovation that will bring something usefull at the upper level of our sport.

Jan. 24, 2011, 06:19 PM
I'm in a rising trot coming out of a corner and going into a shoulder in on a 14.1h pony. Yes, my leg slides back to find the barrel on a 14.1h pony who when turning right, swings her haunches in and throws the outside shoulder out, yes my inside heel is not down. Mechanically speaking, there is no possibly way to swing your lower leg back without raising your heel. Shorter stirrup? Yes, i cant ride a pony very well if i cant find her body with my leg too long Perched, well i'm posting, there is nothing for a knee roll on this saddle, there is nothing for me to be gripping my knees onto, though i do attempt to roll them in and point my knee cap down as much as possible with a shorter stirrup. I didnt have any other up close photos that you could tell it was this saddle on her where my butt was full into the saddle, though she is very light and i do not sit that deep on her as everything is about forward, long and low at this stage. It's my belief, the lower leg needs to be independent of your body, not fixed forever directly underneath you, wouldnt that make for lovely tempe changes if the lower leg never moved though!

As for tipping forward, you are right i do, i have an overly arched lower back and no length of torso. I make a lovely hunt seat rider... Too bad dressage is my passion. Doesnt matter what saddle i'm on, or if i'm bareback, i tip slightly forward in everything. My lower back has been an extreme cause of pain since i started riding western horses 20yrs ago, hasnt changed with changing disciplines, and got worse after a couple pregnancies. Thankfully i've had instructors help me ride more comfortably over the years, so the pain is decreasing. I even tip forward when i stand. :)

I had a long discussion with my trainer about the lower leg position on ponies, as with all the ponies i ride, my lower leg will fall a bit behind me and i prefer my leathers a hole shorter. She, who also rides a few ponies, said it's something we do to compensate for the lack of barrel/girth length where our leg should fall. Ideal would be directly under you, correct, but when riding various sizes/widths, our bodies have to adjust to cue properly. So if that is incorrect, someone feel free to correct me, this is simply what i have been taught.

I do not get the impression that Heather Moffett's gray horse is 16h or better... Nor is her lower leg in the exact same position in all of the photos on her website of her on the gray.

I dont mind the negative article on the Startrekk, as mentioned above, saddles are extremely personal depending on the body type sitting on it. Absolutely my saddle will not work for everyone! What saddle will?

I think barefoot saddles are some of the cheapest of the cheap treeless saddles out there and hated the one i tried, so i wont comment further on it. Never tried the black forest because i thought it looked cheap as well. I prefer that i can get mine adjusted by a fitter, and have.

I havent sat in the heather moffett saddles, but my trainer did a trial with the Vogue model and it slid side to side horribly on her wide mare. They sure do not work for every horse out there!

I think the photo of the ansur is taken just to the left of center, thus showing more of the right rear pannel and giving it a crooked look. I've seen tons of saddles on ebay that look the same lately in my saddle searching. Yes, they should have posted a better picture, especially for their price tags! No argument there!

I do not mind if people think treeless are new fangled gimmicks at being natural, i think to the treeless creators, that is not their goal, it's creating something more comfortable for the horse. From impression testings on the better models, this is the case for SOME horses, not all. I think we can all agree that saddle shopping SUCKS, especially with the hard to fit animal, so the best advice to anyone is to use the saddle that fits, whatever it may be.

Once upon a time, dressage saddles with deep seats, big knee rolls, and adjustable trees were considered new fangled gimmicks and they are now the norm and those riding in the saddles of old are considered old fashioned or poor cause they couldnt afford better...

I'm all for continuing research and keeping an open mind. I'm sorry for my novels on this thread. :) I hope i've made some sense to someone. Sorry for my defensiveness about my body position, i've worked darn hard to get to this point and score 8s on my dressage tests, so i'm proud of where i've gotten.

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Jan. 24, 2011, 07:00 PM
I ride in an Ansur and now hate the feel of a "regular" saddle. I feel like I can't communicate with the horse's back.

Jan. 24, 2011, 07:05 PM
DG RH - THAT is the biggest fear i have with this Niedersuss coming! I've got a 3 day trial on it, but i love how soft and how much i feel with my treeless. If this doesnt work for both my cob and I, i'll be heading towards an Ansur i think for the next attempt.

Action Rider Tack
Jan. 25, 2011, 12:52 PM
It does depend on what you consider economical. We are the importer of 4 treeless lines, Freeform, Barefoot, Ghost and Torsion. Each of these offers a dressage saddle and each has a different feel.

The Freeform Elite Dressage and Freeform Liberty Dressage are used by dressage riders and are well liked. Each has a different dressage seat and the bases have different knee rolls. Here is the link to our retail outlet: www.ActionRiderTack.com.

The Barefoot offers two choices as well: Barefoot London and Barefoot Lexington. Link: www.BarefootSaddlesUSA.com

The Ghose offers the Ghost dressage and the Torsion offers the Torsion dressage. I hope to have pictures and information about these two saddles on our website by the end of next week.

Our treeless specialist, Julie, would be happy to help with any questions. Please feel free to call our tollfree number: 877-865-2467

With Warm Regards,


Jan. 26, 2011, 04:17 PM
If you are interested in an Ansur and want a custom one for around 2,500..?
The man who actually did the heavy lifting and created that saddle is alive and well and still does custom work from his shop in Oregon. I think his custom work starts at 2100 and goes up from there, depending on what custom touches you want included. He did my western saddle and it's divine. If you are interested, PM me.