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  1. #1
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    Feb. 28, 2006
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    Default Thinking about treeless

    Thinking about Treeless saddles as my horse is just about impossible to fit. Shortbacked, big shoulder, and a little bit of a dip behind the withers as he is out of shape right now. I sold my old saddle last fall, which then he promptly injured himself and we are just now starting to ride in a borrowed saddle.
    Borrowed saddle fits OK, so I am waiting to make sure he stays sound before purchasing a saddle, but a saddle that fits better would be nice.
    A friend told me about the Sensation saddles. Any experience? They seem interesting, and a decent price.
    I am also willing to bet I am nowhere near a dealer in any treeless saddles. I am in the armpit of horsey VA- in other words, anything cool is far away...
    Horse is lower level dressage horse, trail, too. I am ridiculously out of shape and struggling with where to put my leg in this silly close contact with no knee blocks that I borrowed. Would love to be back in a nice dressage saddle!!! I also like to ride with a shorter stirrup, need a more forward flap.
    Help!



  2. #2
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    Mar. 8, 2009
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    Montreal, Qc
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    Default

    Just my opinion.

    I don't like treeless saddle. They aren't meant for dressage and to have seen, touched and tried some, i was far from impressed.
    You can't get a close feel of the horse as the sides are usually pretty thick. Never saw a rider in a good dressage position in those and even if it's supposed to be easy to fit any horses with, you still have to be carefull with all the pads and shims and position everything at the right place.



  3. #3
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    Jan. 28, 2000
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    Columbia, Maryland
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    Default

    Ansur has a new treeless dressage saddle. I have used the older Ansur Classic on two 17.2 hand warmbloods both of whom liked it, as I did. No problem with maintaining correct dressage position. And you can really feel your horse's movements with the saddle.

    Bottom line, find a saddle that works for your horse, whether it's treeless or with tree.
    "No matter how well you perform there's always somebody of intelligent opinion who thinks it's lousy." - Laurence Olivier



  4. #4
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    Jun. 4, 2002
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    Default

    I have a Fhoenix dressage mode and LOVE the saddle. It does not needs shims or pads...just uses a regular pad, and it has a nice gullet so no pressure on the spine. Looks much like a treed saddle but lacks the piece of wood between you and the horse's back. It fits my hard to fit horses well and they are comfortable and happy in it. The next best thing is that I am comfortable and happy in it also.

    I've been using treeless for 6 years now and have not hurt any horses with the treeless saddles. I've used this saddle on a number of horses now and they are happy in it. I've ridden in several other models also.

    I agree that whatever works for a horse is what you should go with. For some that is a tree and for some it is treeless. Everyone has their own preference.

    Where in VA are you? If you are close to me, I have an Ansur KK (jumping model), a Fhoenix (dressage) and a Barefoot Cheyenne (trail/endurance) models here and you are welcome to haul in and try them.

    Also most folks selling treeless saddles do have demo models that they send out to let folks try them.



  5. #5
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by alibi_18 View Post
    Just my opinion.

    I don't like treeless saddle. They aren't meant for dressage and to have seen, touched and tried some, i was far from impressed.
    You can't get a close feel of the horse as the sides are usually pretty thick. Never saw a rider in a good dressage position in those and even if it's supposed to be easy to fit any horses with, you still have to be carefull with all the pads and shims and position everything at the right place.
    I completely disagree with this. I have the Ansur Carleton, and if anything, when I ride in a treed saddle, I am frustrated at how little I can feel the horse's back. I used to have to buy a new saddle every 2 years or so, as dressage changed my horse's body, and now I have a saddle that works fabulously for my OTTB, but I have also ridden a TB/WB cross, a Dutch WB, an Andalusian cross, and Andalusian/Perch cross...all in the treeless.I use no pads or shims except for a regular saddle pad.

    Because a treeless pad doesn't put you in a position, you are obligated to learn how to balance yourself. I don't think I could ever go back to a treed saddle.
    www.specialhorses.org
    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues




  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct. 20, 2006
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    Default

    I have a Sensation G4 Formal Dressage and I feel the horse much better than any treed saddle I've ever used. I also can sit the trot much better. It is less structured and secure than a treed saddle, so should only be used by riders who are well balanced....Pony moves much much better in it as well.



  7. #7
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    Apr. 29, 2010
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    Default

    Check out Heather Moffett's Vogue Mark II. It will absolutely put you in a correct dressage position.



  8. #8
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    Feb. 28, 2006
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    Default

    I am definitely interested in the sensation saddles. Hobbs- what led you to choose the G4? What is the difference between that and the G3? I know I can get a demo, and my horse will probably let me know the difference, but I am worried I won't know how the thing is supposed to look and feel... I will call the rep and speak to them but not sure where to start when a demo arrives!!!
    I have no problem sitting his trot, although I do expect a treeless to take some getting used to.

    Thanks for all your input! Many things to consider. Again, Murphy is really hard to fit. Just looking at this as an option that I wouldn't have to sell....again... when he changes shape.



  9. #9
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    Mar. 4, 2009
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    Arizona
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    Default

    I have a FreeForm Elite Dressage and absolutely love it. It is designed especially for dressage. In fact, I know a lady who rode up to 4th level in one and never wants to go "treed" again because she finally found something that works for her hard to fit Morgan! I had considered other treeless saddles, and she steered me in the direction of this one.

    I also disagree about not being able to get a close feel of the horse in a treeless saddle. I find that you get a very close feel and can actually feel the horse's muscles moving below you, which is a pretty phenomenal feeling.

    My horse is difficult to fit, and the FreeForm fits her beautifully. The Elite Dressage model has a little bit of a cutback in the pommel, which is lovely because many people's concern about treeless is that they might put pressure on the wither.

    I don't use any shims, just a HAF pad that's meant for treeless saddles.

    Somebody who was riding my horse for me while I was on vacation for a couple of weeks had a brand new Schleese that she was thrilled to have bought, but ended up using my FreeForm most of the time. That said, another person in the barn tried it out and wasn't comfortable in it, so I'd suggest a trial first; most dealers offer one and will send the saddle to you, so it doesn't matter where you are.
    Last edited by esdressage; Jul. 8, 2010 at 01:29 PM.



  10. #10
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    Jan. 30, 2010
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    Default

    I think treeless in interesting, but not enough evidence for me to know it is good for the horse.

    We have evidence bareback is bad for the horse, and that even the archaic treed saddles of ancient times were easier on the spine than bareback, so I guess I would want to see necropsies done on horses ridden consistently in a treeless to see if the same spinal issues are found as were/are found in horses ridden consistently bareback.

    I do think treeless saddles should be reserved for light weight riders.

    I also have a big shouldered and very short backed horse, and had to go custom to accomodate his needs. (Frank Baines).



  11. #11
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    Jul. 25, 2007
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    Arizona
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    I too have a Freeform Elite cut back model and love it. The gals at actionridertack.com were so helpful. My Arab was difficult to fit due to high withers, and a set back shoulder. There was a definite improvement in my horses movement which was reflected in better dressage scores. After a class a judge asked me what type of saddle I was using and when I told him it was treeless he looked impressed. I am not a treeless fanatic and know that for certain horse and rider combo's they may not be appropriate.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHT View Post
    I think treeless in interesting, but not enough evidence for me to know it is good for the horse.

    We have evidence bareback is bad for the horse, and that even the archaic treed saddles of ancient times were easier on the spine than bareback, so I guess I would want to see necropsies done on horses ridden consistently in a treeless to see if the same spinal issues are found as were/are found in horses ridden consistently bareback.

    I do think treeless saddles should be reserved for light weight riders.

    I also have a big shouldered and very short backed horse, and had to go custom to accomodate his needs. (Frank Baines).
    All I can say is it is obvious how much better and freer and my horse moves in a treeless as compared with a treed saddle. That is not to say every treed saddle - many would fit. They just wouldn't fit as well as his body changes. Buying a treeless and having it for years beats buying a new dressage saddle and angsting over fit every two years.
    www.specialhorses.org
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHT View Post

    We have evidence bareback is bad for the horse, and that even the archaic treed saddles of ancient times were easier on the spine than bareback,


    Could you provide some sources for the evidence on bareback being bad, and also for information on studies done on archaic saddles?

    My bareback and/or treeless days are for the most part over, but I'm still interested in this topic!
    *****
    Don\'t worry, be Haffy



  14. #14
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    May. 22, 2005
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    Default

    There are a number of dealers who offer demos. For more info you could join the yahoo treeless saddle forum. Tons of great discussion. Up to date discussion at that. The design of treeless saddles are changing so fast. Any assumptions based on past designs need to be refreshed with the current technology in mind.



  15. #15
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    Apr. 9, 2004
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    Florida
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    Default

    Anyone have experience with these saddles causing back pain in the horse? That is one complaint I've heard regarding treeless - thought to be from focal rider pressure. The one that I've seen draped across the withers - any concerns with wither pressure (soreness, white hairs)?
    MW



  16. #16
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    Jun. 4, 2002
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Medicine Wheel (Ogilvie) View Post
    Anyone have experience with these saddles causing back pain in the horse? That is one complaint I've heard regarding treeless - thought to be from focal rider pressure. The one that I've seen draped across the withers - any concerns with wither pressure (soreness, white hairs)?
    MW
    No, none of my treeless saddles have ever made a horse sore...but...treeless saddles come in many styles and types. Some are little more than shaped bareback pads and they do put pressure on withers and spine. The newer generation of saddles like the Fhoenix and other models are a lot more substantial than any bareback pad and have a clear gullet and wither's clearance.

    Testing was done on the Fhoenix in particular and it did better for weight distribution and lack of pressure points than the treed saddles tested.

    http://www.enlightenedequitation.com/faq.htm



  17. #17
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    Mar. 4, 2009
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    The person I know who rode 4th in her FreeForm has a saddle fitting company and has done computer assisted saddle scans using both treed and treeless saddles to compare how they put pressure on the horse's back while riding. If somebody is seriously interested, they could ask her about it. Her site is Dynamic Equine Saddle Fitting. It's pretty cool, because her scans show what's going on with the horse in motion while being ridden, so you know where there's more and less pressure as the horse and rider move together, not just the horse standing still.

    I know she's happy to talk about how treed and treeless saddles compared in her scans (she's told me several times to send dressage riders her way who are considering treeless because she has a lot of experience with it) and she also spends a lot of time helping people make sure their treed saddles fit well (she knows treeless isn't for everybody).

    Interesting stuff, but she didn't enter herself into this conversation, so please don't inundate her with questions, but maybe the OP would want to send her and email or call her. There aren't the treed vs. treeless scans right there on her site because it's about her saddle fitting business (not this tree-treeless question), but she could tell you about it. She is really knowledgeable.



  18. #18
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    Jul. 25, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medicine Wheel (Ogilvie) View Post
    Anyone have experience with these saddles causing back pain in the horse? That is one complaint I've heard regarding treeless - thought to be from focal rider pressure. The one that I've seen draped across the withers - any concerns with wither pressure (soreness, white hairs)?
    MW
    I have never had any back pain issues with my horse since switching to a treeless. Finding a treed saddle that didn't cause pain or pinching was the problem! I am guessing soreness could happen if a proper pad isn't being used, if the rider is heavier or unbalanced, or stands in the stirrups for long periods of time (endurance riders).



  19. #19
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    Jan. 30, 2010
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    Could you provide some sources for the evidence on bareback being bad, and also for information on studies done on archaic saddles
    Sure: Levin et al., 2000. Study done by Levin, Jeffcott and Whitwell.

    Issues found with long term bareback riding: Overriding or impinging dorsal spinal processes, horizontal fissures through the epiphysis, and periarticular osteophytes.

    These issues pretty much went away with the "invention" of the very basic frame saddle.

    I sure hope references are not required for all posts.



  20. #20
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    Jan. 11, 2008
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    I went on a saddle fitting nightmare from hell with my cob mare and after trying several treed/treeless saddles, i settled on the treeless Startrekk Icelandic (which looks like a dressage saddle, but has a flatter seat and a front point billet to keep the saddle in place). I tried the actual Startrekk Dressage model, but it slid into her ears and dumped me on her forehead.

    I never found a treed saddle that my mare would even move in, as in take 2 steps in, after she turned 5. I had a baretek bareback pad i used to trail ride her with, but since her movement is so huge, i couldnt do much more than a slow trot with that, even with the big knee rolls on it, i just felt like i was everywhere.

    Her canter was so wacko when we started cantering that i could not stay in my dressage saddle, so i tried a few western saddles on her. Same issue, she would not move in a treed saddle. I bought her a Bob Marshall treeless western saddle, viola, i had walk/trot and crazy canter that i could stay on. When working on canter, we'll stay in the bob marshall a while longer until i get it better balanced, then i'll swap back to my dressage saddle.

    I am not a "light" rider, i am 5'3 and 180lbs. I have no issues with my treeless saddles slipping. Even after coming back after having a baby and being out of shape without balance... Heck, even falling off my saddles dont slide... LOL

    I do put a thinline pad underneath, but i've done that with treed saddles and bareback pads too ever since thinline came out. Both my treeless saddles have lots of wither clearance, and since my dressage saddle has wool stuffed panels, it also has a gullet channel and can be custom stuffed. I've never had white hairs or back pain, and my princess and the pee mare would let me know if she wasnt happy, we wouldnt be leaving the mounting block.

    However, the Startrekk treeless saddles i would not recommend if you like a slightly forward leg, it will put your leg under you and has a slightly curved back flap/knee roll. Though unlike most treeless dressage saddles, it does have a twist. It also has "ribs" that make it feel a little stiffer like a treed saddle, or you can remove them. I've removed mine. I feel EVERYTHING. Whoever posted above about treeless dressage saddles not placing you in the correct position, not being able to feel the horse, or having very thick panels, hasnt tried the good ones on the market.

    I will agree that even the good ones will not work for every horse and rider. And yes, most of the dealers offer very good trial periods if you have them shipped to you to try. It might add to the cost of saddle shopping, but to help you try before you buy can save you thousands of dollars. I speak from experience...



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