What is the most comfortable trail saddle on the planet?
Interested in trail riding some & don't want to use my dressage saddle. I think that horses need to be in different tack at times so as to change the pressure points on their backs. I want a saddle that's soft like a pillow for both horse & me. Western or english, doesn't matter. Just total, lush, feather soft comfort !
By far the softest and cushiest are treeless. My flavor of choice is the Freeform Classic though I've heard the Sensation's are quite cushy as well.
I had to ride in a treed dressage saddle recently after a year in my Freeform. It was like I was sitting on a board! My FF had completely spoiled me. I have an extra one and two ladies at my barn have given them a try. They declare it the most comfortable saddle ever. Of course they ride in these rock hard tiny hunt seat saddles.
Last edited by pandorasboxx; Jun. 20, 2008 at 02:53 AM.
I've owned 4 different brands of treeless saddles and tired a couple more. I have to say that my Sensation English Trail (treeless by Nickers Saddlery, Canada) is truly the most comfortable saddle I've ever been in. http://www.ridetreeless.com/ You just sink into the saddle. I've just ordered a new seat for mine with a more traditional look. Here is some better photos of the current models. http://www.foresthorse.com/index.php...iewDoc&docId=9
I'm getting the G4 seat to go on my saddle for a more traditional look. the cool thing about buying these saddle is you can order a completely custome saddle with combinations of different pommels, cantles, leather, short/longer flaps, etc. Made in British Columbia, CA. Demo saddles available to actually ride and try before buying.
After riding trail in my dressage saddles for years and years (I also had a Circle Y Park and Trail to ride in, but preferred my dressage saddles), I launched a search for a trail saddle for my new TWH, wanting the same thing you want -- comfort for me and good fit for my horse. I tried all sorts of western saddles, aussies, etc. (sorry -- no treeless. I'm just too crooked for treeless), but I fell in love with Tucker saddles, and decided on the plantation model. Very comfy, gel seat, familiar feel, no horn -- optional western or english rigging. I love it more with every ride.
"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucious
Be VERY wary of the so-called "treeless" saddles. I've yet to see one that would effectively distribute weight. Ultimately it will sore the horse's back if you do any real riding.
This is why endurance riders have been riding thousands of miles in them for a couple of decades now, right? A lot of endurance riders have switched to treeless because they, and their horses are more comfortable.
A Freeform treeless won the Tevis Cup in '07 - Jeremy Reynolds. April Battles rides exclusively in treeless. Surely people like Mr. Reynolds, and Ms. Battles, both with around 5,000 competition miles have a clue about long distance riding and sore backs. I see a lot of treeless saddles at endurance rides. One of my mentors has been riding distance since I was born and all she rides in are treeless saddles. She has a Sensation and a Barefoot.
Part of the vet exam at every hold is a check of the back for soreness. Wouldn't you think if all these treeless saddles were laming up backs that endurance riders would get a clue and quit using them? My mare has gotten all As on her back health at every vet check. Sure, we're only doing 25s at this time, but I guarantee even 25 miles in a bad saddle is enough to sore a horse.
It seems that people who bad mouth treeless either don't know anything about them, or they try to use them without the proper weight distribiting pads. The pads and the saddles are a SYSTEM. You don't use one without the other unless the saddle has built in panels to distribute weight, and some of them do.
According to my riding log, I've ridden approximately 500 miles in my treeless saddle - that's just on one horse. I don't log miles on the other horse but it's probably around a 100. My horse hasn't shown a minute's worth of back soreness. http://www.hphoofcare.com/PADRONA3.jpg To the contrary, she is much more forward and willing than she was last year.
There's nothing wrong with treed saddles at all, but there's nothing wrong with treeless either. Both types have to fit the horse and the purpose to be successfully.
I have experience in the world of cycling and it is a couple opinion that 'cushy' seats (also called saddles) are in the end less comfortable that a harder seat where you are riding on your sit bones, rather than the soft tissue. Does this have any bearing on equine saddle comfort?
I tried a treeless (BF Cheyenne and the Grandeur pad). I HATED it. Too puffy, too fluffy, too much cush between me and them...I feel much closer and more stable in my Tucker or my hard seat Rocking R. I rode two laps and said nay. JMO. I DID try, and I did send it back
Everyone has their own preferences. I was okay in a treed, hard seat while riding shorter distances but after doing 40 miles last year in a treed saddle, I was in so much pain I knew there had to be a better solution. Probably a narrower twist treed saddle would have worked too but I switched to treeless and once I got the slipping issue worked out (with the right pad ) I've been very happy. I love the treeless because you can feel every muscle move in their back along their spine. I can feel what the horse is going to do so much quicker now. It feels like all the fuzz has been taken out of the telephone line. Mounting from the ground is impossible, but that was almost impossible for me anyway, even in a treed saddle.
I've heard that people who don't like the Barefoot style saddles usually like the Bob Marshall styles instead. There is no puff or fluff - just a hard layer of leather to sit on. I didn't like that feel. So you might like the BM saddles better. There are lots of different styles in treeless - just like in treed. I would definitely try other styles if you still can't find a treed saddle to fit your walker.
IMO, a treeless with a good pad like an Equipedic is the softest and most comfortable for just regular trail rides. It is like sitting in a comfy, cushy chair. But for longer rides, like endurance rides, I feel I am more sore with a treeless than I would be with my treed DeSoto, I think mostly because my legs are held wider apart and there is less "structure".
The most comfy saddle I ever had was a Bob Marshall treeless. After a few months of rough mountain trils my horse begain the get white spots right where my seat bones were, so I had to go back to treed. right now I have a deep seated old style western saddle with a Supracore pad and a wool pad. I like this set up, but for many it would be way too much 'stuff'.
Treeless. Once you switch to treeless you just can NOT believe how hard and unforgiving a tree is on your butt.
Being an engineer and teaching engineering I understand loads and psi. Nothing speaks performance like a good solid foundation and treeless doesn't have either.
I also don't like reefing a cincle and I ride with it quite loose so the horse is comfortable and can breath.
Girls try doing your bra's up a couple of knotches tighter and see how you like it.