It has been discussed, but I don't mind that you ask again about Ansur saddles. Then again, I LOVE my Ansur. And I can take it from my drafter cross right on to my slab-sided spottie, and then go ride the pony. Fits each one.
But a saddle being a saddle, no two people are going to appreciate any one kind of saddle the same way. As for me, I figure if it fits my underneath parts, fits my horse, and lets me be in a good position, who the heck cares 1( what it looks like (as my body is covering most of it), and 2) what make it is. When I watch someone ride I don't study the saddle to see if I should be impressed with their abilities.
Expensive? Less expensive in the long run than my Keiffer and my Smith-Worthington and my Collegiate and my Wintec, all of which was required to go from my drafter to my spottie to my ponies...
I have ridden in an Ansur saddle. One lady that I work with has only Ansur saddles for her wide-backed horses. They fit a variety of backs well. The no-slip pad is important. The saddle has fit everything from her huge wide backed, witherless horses to her small, somewhat high withered pony.
They are comfortable to sit in and put you in a proper position. Also, since there is less material between you and the horse, you can feel the horse better.
I still would not use it on every horse - the small pony needed a whither pad - but especially for the drafty breeds, it works very well.
I borrowed a classic ansur saddle from the manufacturer for several weeks (a decade ago) and tried it on several different horses, a couple that I was having trouble fitting. I was please that I could ride in the Petite- altho I normally take a 17.5 or an 18 inch. The Rep waxed poetic about how it would solve all my fitting problems. I wish she had been right! FWIW, that particular rep has given up the Ansur line and stopped riding altogether last time I checked as she kept getting dumped off her horses. That may not have been the fault of the saddle tho.
It put me in a chair seat on every one, some worse than others.
The lack of a twist was quite uncomfortable for me on the wide body horse.
On the high withered horse, it put too much pressure directly on the bony withers and the horse protested loudly.
It fit best on an average built grade horse, but then, that particular horse fits any off the rack saddle and rarely protests anything.
As mentioned, lacking a twist and being of very smooth leather, it was slippery, even in full seats.
The workmanship was not up to the standard of european treed saddles of similar price range. I gather the finish has been improved in the last few years.
Some folks love them. All I can say is try it for at least 3 rides before you decide, and have your coach present for one of the rides to give you feedback or video yourself and pay attention to the position it puts you in.
Many horses, especially those with poorly fitted saddles, will welcome any change for the first ride- even if the change of saddle doesn't fit either- at least it fits differently. Hence, many folks try a new saddle once, declare it the answer, and buy. Whenever possible, borrow one for a week or so before buying.
"The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF
I looked at the newest models at Equine Affaire. They intrigued me as they are now built with a gullet, something the earlier models don't have (they took the base of the Konklusion, which is their jumping saddle that had a gullet for extra stability). I think that would increase the stability of the saddle overall and would minimize the need for corrective padding.
I've got a Freeform treeless saddle that I quite like: I enjoy the way that I can feel my horse's back better. However, it does not offer the same security or stability as my treed saddles, so when my TB is feeling fresh, I generally don't go treeless. I think it does a decent job of distributing pressure when used in conjunction with a skito pad but I don't ride in the saddle every day so I don't know if my horse would develop any soreness over time.
I would be tempted to try the Ansur but for four reasons:
- I would need a custom flap (my femur is way too long for their standard configuration). That makes the possibility of picking up a used saddle to try, difficult. I don't have any interest in ordering a new saddle and trying it for a week (you can return them but I believe their is a restocking fee). I don't think a week is really long enough to know for sure how the saddle will work for you over the long term. If a used one presented itself at the right price I probably would try it just out of curiousity.
- The sales pitch was too strong. No saddle works for every horse. I just don't believe it. They seem to, but I would have liked a more tempered discussion. They had an old wooden tree at the booth and were explaining how a tree could never fit a horse in motion. I would suspect that most saddles selling for the same price (about 3K) no longer are built on trees that look like the one that was there. I also resist the idea that I don't know how a horse should move until I've tried an Ansur. I've seen a lot of BNT riding horses with extravagant movement who are not riding in Ansurs. In fact, I know only one trainer who rides in one. If they really made such a huge difference, wouldn't you see more at the upper levels? Those riders certainly don't need the added support that a treed saddle offers.
- They are not forthcoming with pressure testing data. I can't believe that they don't have it. If their saddles really do such a great job of dissipating pressure, they should prove it. There are a lot of pressure testing systems available now and the marketer in me would like to see data.
- My Roosli fits my horse just fine. Maybe he would move better in an Ansur, but since no one told him, he's doing great with the saddle that I already own. In fact, every horse I've ridden in my Roosli seems to move well in it. Yes, he moves fine in my Freeform, but there's no magical transformation with that treeless compared to my Roosli. Granted, I have my treed saddles checked and fitted twice a year to keep them comfortable. I would guess that a horse that's being ridden in an ill-fitting treed saddle would go much better in a treeless.
Yes, I like the fact that when you ride treeless you can go from horse to horse with little difficulty. I've ridden at least some of the time in a treeless saddle for several years and I like having one in my tackroom. I'm just not ready to sell off the saddles with trees!
Here are a few specifics that I've written about treeless saddles:
it's not the edge of the earth, but you can see it from here
For the right rider and horse conformation they are wonderful. They are AWESOME on the Norwegian Fjords I used to work with.
But there is only a certain body type (and then mixing up with the horse's anatomy) that can ride in them well to upper levels. For trails and hacking and lower level schooling--comfy and fun and do negate *many* (but not all) fitting issues.
Other body types do not do well. I was very quietly and privately tutored on the issues when I watched a very experienced upper level rider have a lesson. Another rider, another horse, might've been very different. THAT rider on THAT horse, there were glaring position issues that interfered with performance.
Treeless kept me riding at a time when regular saddles caused me severe pain and sciatica. Like DB, I then went to a Fhoenix (well, SBS Flexion first, then Fhoenix) that was an amazing change for me, and horse and I progressed further in 2 years than we had in previous 5. And then he outgrew it... It still 'fit' HIM, but he developed so much back and topline I simply could NOT sit in it any more without hip pain. Lingering hip pain. Hip pain so scary I thought I had Lymes or Lupus or something. It took awhile, I finally figured out it was the saddle.
Which broke my heart, because I DO believe there is probably a better way. I am NOT convinced that a tree is the only answer... but for now... I'm back in a treed saddle. And been searching for more than a year for another for the youngsters. (price being a huge issue for me.)
So, long way of saying... An Ansur could be WONDERFUL for you and your horse,. Or it might not be. Depends on you and your horse.
I have an ansur classic from 2001. The lack of twist takes some getting used to, but I can really see the benefit/difference in horses when I use one. Plus, it is a very light saddle--easy to handle and little between you and the horse. I'm selling mine (pm me if you want info on it) because my horse passed away. I would give it a try.
I rode in one several times becasue the rider who owned it insisted. It can put you in a horrible chair seat on wider horses due to the lack of a twist. The horses we rode in it never showed any improved movement and the sensitive backed ones disliked it.
I do agree that their sales pitch was very hard and had worked on this rider. I also felt that the quality of the saddle did not match up with the price they charge for it.
If Ansurs helped a horses movement then all the olympians would be riding in them.
My mom uses an Ansur on me. What a difference in the way I move! (I'm a shark fin withered OTTB with a mountain ridge backbone.) We use the Carelton.
Would a treeless fit for every horse and every rider? probably not. But most. And it made a huge difference for helping y mom learn balance. She hates riding in a treed saddle now, as she can't feel the horse's back.
I suspect there's a reason that many Olympians don't use a treeless saddle and I don't know that it would reflect well upon them. Just my opinion, from the horse's mouth.
Not addressing movement or fit, but if you get one, you'll need an independent seat. People who are used to deeper seated, thigh blocked, "hold you in place" saddles maybe find themselves all at sea in an Ansur. A friend has one, and she allowed several people to try it out, and some (poorer) riders, found themselves very uncomfortable and unable to sit properly (because they didn't have independent seats). It was interesting. I found it quite comfortable and on her, not particularly big moving horse (Morgan) I felt steady and secure. Don't know if my seat would have been that good in it on a really "BIG" moving horse. It did take a few minutes to get used to it.
I have an Ansur Chic dressage saddle; been riding in it for about 4 years now. So far I've used it on:
Each horse has loved it. The Appaloosa was a deadhead, and rarely would canter. That day she was passing up the guide! He was amazed at how freely she moved. Very funny...
I also foxhunt in it. While I don't jump, we have pretty rugged terrain (deep southern Illinois). Plenty of scrambling up and down steep ravines, and gallops through big hay fields. You do have to have an independent seat, and good lateral balance. But I could never go back to treed saddles.
I only use a dorsal pad when I get in a rescue horse with a deteriorated topline. Once it's built up, then I skip the dorsal pad. A lightweight, thin saddle pad works best. Too much padding and it's squishy-feeling. Ugh.
Tulsa-QH; Schnickelfritz-Holsteiner; Atikus-Danish Warmblood; Buddy-QH/TB; Winston-Shire; Thomas-Percheron/TB; Mac-Belgian Draft, gone but never forgotten
I am surprised that Ted liked it with his shark fin withers and bony spine!! I used one for a little bit on a TB that was not that extreme. I was told to pad it up on the mare until she started to develope a better topline. (This from an upper level rider who loves her Ansur) It didn't happen til I got the Passier. I sold the Ansur Classic after using it less than six months.
I had a sticky/too grippy thigh issue at the time that was not helped by the saddle --- you do really have to have or be able to work into a good seat with these saddles, I think. I thought that would be a good thing, but a treed saddle that properly fit my horse was way better for me.
I also didn't like how very hot the mare's back underneath that saddle, which doesn't happen with a treed saddle and the same pads.
The lack of a twist killed it for me. Total chair seat, but i am riding wide backs. It also slid forward on my cob mare.
I own a Freemax. It needs special padding, but does not slide. However, no twist, puts me in a chair seat, but i've kept it around because my cob likes it, even if it does slide forward over her shoulder a tad.
I just bought a Startrekk Icelandic, which my cob has decided she LOVES and i have unlocked motion i didnt know she had. It has a medium twist and i really like that i dont have to use special pads on it, and it is wool flocked and i can have it adjusted if need be. Which actually, i will do as it sits a little low in the front and at present i have to ride with a front riser pad to level it out for me.
My complaint, i have a long thigh and the Startrekk dressage worked better for my leg, but not my horse, slid onto her shoulder and she wouldnt move, literally. The Icelandic STAYS BACK, thank goodness! The first saddle of any kind to do so. But the flap, though the stirrup bar is slightly more forward than the dressage model, the flap sweeps back some below the knee and for my long thigh i am forced into a very straight leg. I can manage it, but it is a little different to get used to. It also has a much shallower seat than i've ridden in in a long time, and a pretty minimal thigh block compared to most dressage saddles on the market. (That is the same on the dressage model but the seat was much deeper, i felt the dressage model had TOO much flocking and the high cantle tipped me into my mares ears.)
This saddle would work on the highest of withers, and does on my welsh cross who is part shark.
The leather is smooth but not slick and once i took the plastic ribs out of it (optional thing to do, if you like the feel of a treed saddle, you will like the ribs in, if you like to feel your horses back, remove them) anyway, without them its quite soft and squishy and i really feel like i can comfortably sink my seat bones into the seat.
Its taking a little getting used to, but on the whole, i really like it and its not in a bad price range ($1500-1750).
I highly recommend to try one. Abby at saddling solutions was great to work with and quick to answer all my questions. I was given a week trial for $65 ($35 goes towards shipping and if you buy a saddle from them, the remaining $30 goes towards your saddle purchase.) So all in all, i really like how their trials are set up, and you dont have to wrap leathers or tip toe around the thing.
I am quite pleased and i dont see a reason why this saddle cant go to the upper levels on any horse. It may not work for all riders with the flap configuration and medium twist... But its alright for me and my cob mare loves it, which is such a huge relief. I've been saddle shopping for a year.
It also has no slipping side to side issues and gives all the stability of a tree without one.