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Daisydoo
Oct. 15, 2011, 01:24 AM
To make a long story short, there is no off the rack saddle that will fit my horse & I can't afford a custom made one right now so I'm looking at a treeless saddle, the Freeform. I have tried the Barefoot saddles before and was not impressed. It put me too far back on the horse & I felt engulfed in stuffing. The Freeform however, is very ridgid and seems to have great weight distribution for a treeless saddle. In a way I would almost want to call it a flex-tree saddle, but I guess I can't since it doesn't have a conventional tree;).

Anyway, got it a few days ago, put it on my horse and got on, it felt GREAT. We walked for a while and my horse took nice long strides. Then the problems started.... I can't figure out how to sit the trot or even post?! I'm bouncing all over the place & I can't seem to find a good rythm when posting. Not to mention I can't seem to post low. Has anyone else had this problem with the Freeform saddles?? I have moved the stirrups around to every position imaginable, and I have ruled them out as the cause since I can't seem to sit the trot or post without stirrups either. Oddly enough my horse seems really happy despite my clumsy self on his back trying to figure out how come I can't ride suddenly:lol:. Has anyone else has this experience?? Help!

Equibrit
Oct. 15, 2011, 09:22 AM
I ride my greenies in a Freeform. It takes some getting used to. Play with the stirrup length and position some more, until you feel really solid. You will not have a tree to help in throwing you up in the trot, so it is REALLY important that you adjust stirrups to get the heel, hip, shoulder line which gives you that really SOLID feel all the way from your heel. When you get that right you won't be able to lean your seat bones against the tree, so have to learn how to balance on your bum without it. When you are comfortable with that, you will start to really feel the horse's muscles under your butt. Use them to time the rythm of your posting and RELAX.

flight
Oct. 16, 2011, 05:33 AM
I rode in a freeform for a couple of years, but only trail riding.
My horse is very round, and to be honest I struggled with it especially in canter. It was like being smacked in the ar3e with a flat paddle!!

You'll get the hang of it, but I moved onto a fhoenix and much much preferred that.

Daisydoo
Oct. 16, 2011, 01:31 PM
Thank you both for your replies. I rode in it again yesterday and maybe I can just re-learn how I do things to make it work:-). The bottom line is, I would sacrifice some comfort for the benefit of the horse, however, if I'm bouncing all over the place I don't think it would benefit him in the long run:winkgrin:.

I have this one on trail and I'm debating weather to send it back for a shorter base since it is very looong on my short backed horse, or if I should look at a different treeless. With a shorter base I would have to go down to a 17 inch seat and being 6 ft tall I kind of need an 18... decitions decitions...what to do?!

About the Phoenix, is it recommended for heavy riders? I'm 180lb and my QH is 15 H 2 inches. Not sure how the weight distribution is on the Phoenix, but it sure looks good! Also, my horse has a high and long wither, would the Phoenix possibly be able to accomodate that? One reason I like the Freeform is because not only does it come with a cutback for high withered horses, but you can get an extra long cutback for long wither. Any more advice would be much appreciated.

esdressage
Oct. 16, 2011, 01:53 PM
Which seat do you have on it? I have had a couple of Freeforms in the past and the Elite Dressage seat is deeper (even if it doesn't look it, it feels it) and has more of a "twist" as far as they can go with treeless than, say, their classic seat.

It does take a little getting used to. If the short base would fit your horse better, I would do that. It's very easy for them to get a sore back with treeless (no matter what padding you use) so getting the best possible fit will be important. Plus, it'll help you stay centered a bit more forward on your horse's back - you definitely don't want to find yourself putting your weight more towards the loin, especially in treeless.

Eggplant_Dressing
Oct. 16, 2011, 09:21 PM
Have you checked out the Flexor saddle?

A chubby pony-warmblood at our barn has one an her owner is quite happy with the flex-fit and gullet range because the mare gains and looses large amounts of weight throughout the year.

flight
Oct. 17, 2011, 05:15 AM
I'm not sure about the fhoenix and high withered horses sorry. My horse is very much like a 44gallon drum, small wither and quite short backed. She's only 14.3hh.
The fhoenix is definitely short enough, mine's a 17 inch. I have the short back feeform, but it's the older model. I haven't seen the cutback type.
Goodluck!

Daisydoo
Nov. 17, 2011, 10:02 AM
Thank you all for your replies.
Just tried Heather Moffets new Fhoenix Vogue GPS. What a wonderful saddle! It gives good wither clearance... for a normal horse. In our case the clearance stops too soon and I have about 3 inches of wither left to clear after the saddle's clearance stops.
Very dissapointing because that was one of the most comfortable saddles I think I have ever ridden in. Actually thinking about just ordering the short version of the freeform because I know that will work for him, just don't like it for me as much. Don't know why they make the seat the way they do- looking at the balance of the saddle, it slides you too far back. Well, back to the drawing board, either I'll try another saddle, or I go with the Freeform. Haven't decided yet, just feel like being done with this so I can start riding!! Might look into some of the sugestions here.
Again, thanks to all:)

Perfect Pony
Nov. 17, 2011, 10:18 AM
I have a hard to fit pony with a short back. FYI, the Freeform was NOT recommended for her as it is not the best treeless for a short back.

esdressage
Nov. 17, 2011, 10:36 AM
Two things:

1. you can place the Freeform a bit more forward than you would a normal saddle because it doesn't have tree points to interfere with the shoulder. That will help bring your center of balance more forward and I think they design them to be placed that way (I know what you mean about the lowest point of the seat being a bit far back).

2. I think they must work well for short backs because they're mostly used on Arabians in endurance, and Arabians have quite short backs in general. Those horses are doing 100 mile rides in their Freeforms and getting vetted along the way, so I've got to think they fit a short back OK. This is likely their short back model, though.

All that said, I did ultimately stop using the Freeform on my mare and she is going much better in a treed saddle. She had shown signs of being back sore when treeless.

alto
Nov. 17, 2011, 12:43 PM
I think the high & long wither is going to be an issue with treeless saddle fitting as well (I don't agree with placing a saddle more forward in an attempt to make it "fit").

Have you spoken to Trumbull Mtn, the BC & Frank Baines saddles are very customizable & list in the $2700 - $3200 range, even County has a made to order saddle at ~$3200 - these prices are not that much more than the $2500 list I've seen for the Fhoenix Vogue GPS.
Albions would also be worth looking into.

Trumbull Mtn also has a few demo saddles at excellent prices (you just might get lucky & find one that will work with some adjusting - some of these saddles have adjustable trees & panels).

You might also talk to Smith Worthington (http://www.smithworthington.com/cart2/index.php?p=catalog&parent=5&pg=1) as they will also work with you & offer (free - unless they've changed that policy) tree adjustments over the lifetime of the saddle.

esdressage
Nov. 17, 2011, 04:25 PM
(I don't agree with placing a saddle more forward in an attempt to make it "fit")

I wasn't suggesting that. I was suggesting that they intend the Freeform to be placed more forward than a traditional saddle. As I recall when I had mine, the fitting instructions said something along those lines, citing that it wouldn't interfere with the scapula, and the lowest point in the seat being further back than traditional seems to support that "design" in the saddle, that it be intended to be placed further forward. Again, I'm not saying I think that design is ideal at all, but it might make the balance of the saddle better if she place it as they design it to be placed. The "instructions" said that when placed correctly, you should be sitting where you would if bareback.

Anyway, I do agree to consider working with Trumbull Mountain on a treed saddle that fits you and your horse. I think that would most likely be the absolute best solution, and they have an amazing reputation for doing a great job finding a saddle for horse/rider in the budget.

Good luck! :)

Bogie
Nov. 17, 2011, 10:24 PM
I really like my Freeform but have not had the problems you described. I have used it on several horses and it's worked well on all of them.

I also just bought a Heather Moffett Vogue GPT. I also like that and it's a bit better if you want to jump a few low fences. I've only had it for a week and am just getting used to it but there's a lot more padding than I'm used to.

Hands down, the Freeform is the most comfortable treeless saddle I've ridden in. However, it has to be what works for you. I'd give it a bit more time to see if you get used to it more. It is different from riding in a treed saddle.

ljo
Nov. 19, 2011, 12:26 PM
The Vogue is treeless and will not hurt your horse if the saddle touches the withers. The Ansur touches the withers too and the horses don't mind at all and go very well in them.

NCSue
Nov. 19, 2011, 07:19 PM
I, too, have an extremely difficult horse to fit and a treed saddle that might fit (can't even get a demo to come close to fitting) is way beyond my budget. I have looked into the Freeform as there is a fitter not too many hours away. When I started researching I ran into negative comments about dressage riders trying to do lateral work with the Freeform. The problem, if I'm understanding correctly, is that the flaps of the saddle are so thick that you can't get your leg properly on the horse, nor can you use your leg for aiding in the movements. This is a huge concern as saddle stability is an issue I'm fighting now when doing lateral work. I'd love some feedback.

Bogie
Nov. 19, 2011, 09:19 PM
I have not experienced this. I do plenty of lateral work in my Freeform.


I, too, have an extremely difficult horse to fit and a treed saddle that might fit (can't even get a demo to come close to fitting) is way beyond my budget. I have looked into the Freeform as there is a fitter not too many hours away. When I started researching I ran into negative comments about dressage riders trying to do lateral work with the Freeform. The problem, if I'm understanding correctly, is that the flaps of the saddle are so thick that you can't get your leg properly on the horse, nor can you use your leg for aiding in the movements. This is a huge concern as saddle stability is an issue I'm fighting now when doing lateral work. I'd love some feedback.

Daisydoo
Nov. 20, 2011, 09:43 PM
Thanks again for all your sugestions.
As for putting the saddle more forward, there are 2 problems with that. The first problem is that due to his shape, the saddle will be very low in the back and when you try to pad that up, you end up being miles away from the horse. The second problem is that the saddle slides into his "sweet spot" no matter where I place it originally.

I don't know that I feel that lateral movements would be a problem in the Freeform, maybe if you have short legs? I'm almost 6 ft tall with a 34 inch inseam and I didn't find andy issues with my leg using the Freeform. My main issue is how bouncy it is and that the seat places me a bit too far back.
I also keep thinking that I might be able to use some kind of pad underneith that reduces bounciness maybe? Have to look into that.

Oh, as far as the Fhoenix not clearing all of Bill's withers, the saddle is actually sitting smack on the end of his wither, not just touching, the wither is carrying the weight. If it was just slightly touching I might try padding, believe me I wish this would have worked!:-).

I've been doing a lot of googling this wekend (I LOVE the internet!:-) and I see that Startrekk makes a beautiful looking dressage saddle. Was told by the sales rep that it would not work for my horse due to his forward girth groove, but that maybe the "Espaniola" might just do the trick. Has anyone had any experience with the Startrekk saddles? Good or bad?

I also found that there are several European treeless saddles that don't appear to be available to buy in the US yet that I might look into. Found one on a Norweigan site called "Hidalgo" and it looks pretty good. Another one I found on a Swedish site, (but apparently it is a Danish saddle)- "Contact Saddlery". They both appear to be quality saddles. Then there is the new Freemax dressage saddle that looks beautiful, but it's so affordable that it makes me nervous and there is no info on how it is actually made...? Affordable is usually good, but there is a lot of truth in the old saying "you get what you pay for" as well...:-).
Does anyone have any experience with treeless saddles that might not be as common here in the US? Have an email in to both places to see what costs would be involved if I wanted to order one straight from there, taxes, shipping customs etc.

Thanks*

Bogie
Nov. 20, 2011, 10:07 PM
I don't know that I feel that lateral movements would be a problem in the Freeform, maybe if you have short legs? I'm almost 6 ft tall with a 34 inch inseam and I didn't find andy issues with my leg using the Freeform. My main issue is how bouncy it is and that the seat places me a bit too far back.
I also keep thinking that I might be able to use some kind of pad underneith that reduces bounciness maybe? Have to look into that.

I am also almost 6' tall -- maybe that's why I don't find the flaps to be a problem.

I ride with a skito pad underneath and I don't find it that bouncy but maybe a thinline pad? Even if you added an ultra thinline under your regular pad. It wouldn't add any bulk and it might help with the bounce.

alto
Nov. 21, 2011, 09:57 AM
Do you have video of the "bounce trotwork" or has your trainer/saddle fitter observed & offered any insight - I'm wondering if this is related to the saddle just not fitting as well as you think once the horse actually starts moving?

This company (http://www.saddlingsolutions.com/ST.html) seems to have demos available - though there is no link for the Espaniola, I'd call.

NCSue
Nov. 21, 2011, 12:00 PM
There is a yahoo group for treeless saddles. I just joined. Been told that there is some serious help in that group so perhaps it's a good resource.

This link takes you to the saddle pad recommendations on the Freeform site. http://www.freeformsaddles.net/shop/freeform-saddle-pads.html. Don't know if it'll be of any use.

I have spent over $200 this week returning saddles that don't fit. I feel for you. Hope you are able to find a good solution. I know I'm still searching.

Thanks everyone for your comments about lateral work. I think I'll get a Freeform on trial.

Daisydoo
Feb. 22, 2012, 05:52 PM
*Update*
Thank you all for your sugestions, looked into a lot of them. To make a long story short, I finally ended up with a Barefoot London with a skito pad with inserts to fill in dip in back. Mohair girth & a breastplate. Well, bottom line is that it is working.
My main problem is that the saddle wants to slide back into his dip. The new skito inserts and the breastplate is helping with this some. The mohair girth also seems to stabalize the saddle. My horse seems very happy with the saddle, although I'm not crazy about it. I feel that the pommel gets in the way of my legs so I have to sit a smidge further back than I normally would. I also feel that the saddle is incredibly bulky. A lot of saddle between me and my horse. Overall, I'm riding 5 days a week, I'm happy & my horse is happy....but is it my dream saddle? Noway!:-).

flight
Feb. 23, 2012, 01:59 AM
Glad you've found a bit of a solution!
I think the London's are fairly bulky too.

I've actually done a complete circle and gone back to a treed saddle, it took a couple of weeks to get used to it but it's now more comfortable than even my fhoenix!! Ahh the world of saddles, huh.