How adjustable is the Schleese tree? Can it be fit to a youngster with a roundish shape, then if she ends up more angular can it be adjusted to fit that? My 3-yo is going to need her own saddle probably this fall, and I would prefer to buy something that can grow with her if she becomes not as hoop-shaped.
Bates/Wintec are absolutely not an option. Might consider some of the other brands of the same idea though, or Kieffer depending on if they can be hoop-ified somewhat.
I have a county saddle and it adjusted very well with my 3 year old almost 4 year old horse. When you buy new they have a 1 year tree change policy incase the tree needs to be switched with a larger one. The saddles have a very giving fit in the shoulders and are very adjustable.
Why not just phone the company? They say their trees are fully adjustable whatever that is supposed to mean. Most trees are only adjustable in the arch and adjusting it there, just like changing the gullet on a wintec, will alter the entire shape of the saddle, sometimes in unpredictable ways.
In general, if your girl is wide to begin with and has not yet grown a wither, she is not as likely to become less wide.
There are a lot of saddle options with cutbacks etc, that will accomodate both wide shoulders/ barrels and high withers.
As for adjustable by a saddler, many models and makes are. Look for a wooden spring tree. Older and new upper cost models by Passier, Keiffer, Stubben are all adjustable by a saddler. The older models of these makes are available inexpensively when they are 20 years or older and are still good if they've been well kept or little used. Because of the way saddles are built, it is better not to adjust more than a half size as it does change the gullet width, channel width and how the panels sit on the horse as well. Widening is easier than making more narrow. It is also better not to re-adjust a metal arch repeatedly, and as most older saddles are not warranted, the tree may break during an adjustment if its history is unknown and it has been repeatedly adjusted in the past.
"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
Just posted about this on another thread -- I had a jumping saddle made for a 15.2hh TB. Sent it back to the factory with measurements when I got a new horse who was characterized as "one of the widest shouldered horse I've seen" and 16.1hh by Jochen ... and $750 later, voila ... a jumping saddle that fit the new horse really well! I was very pleased. If it matters, it's a flair style.
I would call, but seeing as how I work in the cell phone dead zone of all dead zones, and am not supposed to make personal calls on the company line (that I don't yet have, new job)... Been so busy in my first week that I haven't had time for a proper lunch break. But I do love my job, so....
all weather, I sooooooo want FLaIR! This filly's dam loves air panels, and filly seems to be mentally a clone of her dam.
Not so interested in Passier or Stubben, as they don't fit me, and can't be turned into a hoop-ish tree from a more angular tree. I know Kieffer is much more adjustable being plastic, not sure how much an adjustment costs for those though.
But I'm not counting out her becoming more narrow. My arab gelding was a witherless barrel until he turned 4, then he sprouted withers without getting wider through the chest. Thus, he is now much more narrow. He used to need an XW in the Bates, and now he needs a M, just from the sprouting of withers over a year's time. This filly has high withers in her pedigree, so I won't be shocked if she develops the same way.
Most wooden spring trees cannot be adjusted except minimally. It's the specialized gullet plate that allows for proper adjustment over the withers - Bates/Wintec can only be changed with respect to the width, not the angle. Schleese is one of the few that can truly adjust the saddle to accommodate the horse as he grows and changes. Some companies 'adjust' their saddles by completely exchanging the tree. That's not adjustable, that's 'exchangeable' lol.
Schleese saddles are not cheap, so consider it an investment in your horse's future.(and in the long run, it will cost you less to maintain/adjust it as necessary than constantly having to go through finding a new saddle everytime your horse changes - and it will!)
I have had excellent success with my Schleese being modified to fit 2 very different horses. Wish I had this option years ago it sure would have saved me thousands of dollars - literally I love my Schleese and wouldn't trade it for any other!
If you buy a new Schleese it will be on the AdapTree which is customizable. Email Schleese and a saddle fitter will get back to you. They can also recommend saddles if you send confirmation pictures of your horse.
If you go the used route, always ask the serial number... A Hennig tree was used in the older models and the serial # will have an H instead of an S. The Hennig tree is not the AdapTree.
I have to agree with the consensus on the schleese adaptree, I bought mine custom for me and for my tough to fit TB years ago and it adjusted beautifully (and for low $!) to my wide backed big withered appendix. Each season they can come out and check the fit and make adjustments to fit his changing shape with fitness. I loove it and wouldn't trade it for any other, especially on a fought to fit horse. The saddle hxad no evidence of warping either besides minor marks that conditioned out on the inside of the gullet.
I have had my Schleese Wave for about 8 years and it has been adjusted many times for my horse. She has changed a lot with growing and training. I also have a Schleese semi-custom saddle that was originally bought for a very wide horse that now has been adjusted to a more medium width horse.
If you can afford it, go with the Schleese instead of something with a wooden spring tree. I think you save money in the long run because you won't be buying new saddles and selling old ones as your horse changes shape.
Glad to see the enthusiastic supporters as I am about to buy a Schleese. I've had my two horses fitted and it seems like they can both use the same saddle with shimming in a saddle pad for the younger one.
It *is* a lot of money, but so far I've not been able to find a saddle that can adjust in both gullet width and tree point angle independently of each other. It seems like most adjustable saddles focus on adjusting the angle and not the width; or am I missing something about the Bates/Kieffer/?? abilities to be adjusted?
My horse friends seem to be divided into two camps: love 'em or hate 'em, and that concerns me a little.
I am also curious as to why Schleese saddles are ever for sale; if they are infinitely adjustable, why would anyone sell them unless they were out of horses competely?
I can answer on the adjustability of the Bates saddles. You can only adjust the angle of the tree in the front of the saddle. Even then, if you do it very often, or even if you don't, the tree doesn't hold up. They work OK for very angular shapes that aren't too curvy or too flat, but they aren't as adjustable as the company will lead you to believe.
I would be going for used in a Schleese definitely, hopefully sometime this fall. I'm not worried about spending the money for something that can be adjusted, that I won't have to sell over and over, if it's really adjustable enough to grow with the horse.
It does worry me that I've heard horror stories from them though. Having been through my nightmare with Bates, I don't want to go through anything similar again. Just not sure what other options I have for one that's going to be hard to fit, and is likely to change drastically over the next few years. She's still got 2 or 3 inches left to grow height-wise, and she still looks physically young. She looks more like a 2-yo than a 3-yo, which is why I'm in no hurry for a new saddle for her. She's only been ridden maybe 6 times, 15 minutes at most per ride. But given how young she still looks, she's likely going to change a ton before she's done growing.
Honestly, there are horror stories about any manufacturer of nearly anything ... especially custom.
If you can enlist the active participation of an additional expert who is on your side (your trainer, for example), who can bring to bear his/her influence and expertise, I think the difficulties diminish.
I attribute my good experiences to dumb luck, at first, and then the relationship my trainer had with Schleese and their understanding that she would not be satisfied with "almost". She rode in the saddle on the horse, she watched her students ride in the saddle, she checked the fit and construction and added her insight to the mix, which vastly increased the quality of the outcome.
The reason that people generally will put their used saddles on the internet for sale can be something as simple as the fact that the company is constantly coming up with new and improved models; Schleese is all about constantly working with other equine experts to increase their level of knowledge and work that into the product.
I have always driven Audis; one of my goals is to always upgrade when I buy a new one. Same with saddles! I am now at the HK (having gone through the JES Elite and the Wave first).