I'm looking for an explanation for when you know the saddle didn't suffer severe trauma such as being dropped, or rolled on, or driven over, or crushed under heavy objects, etc.
My daughter had a used saddle for at least three years. We recently discovered that the tree was broken.
Can they just age and break through normal usage?
yes if its a naff make like an indian one as in parkistan well know to break
cheap one should always have there saddles checked at least once or twice year by mastercraftmen a saddle fitter as horses change shape and so do riders as in your child has grown over the last three years but did the saddle fit her as well as the horse then and or now
Yes they can just age and break from normal usage. They can break from a freak incident like a twist or torque. They can weaken and break from constantly being mounted from the same side. The higher quality the tree, the less likely that is to happen though. Many well built trees last decades upon decades.
Cheap trees, like cheaply made anything, has a limited lifespan before the materials just give up. Not all, I did have a pakistani cheap saddle that lasted a decade with very hard usage (but the saddle was a hunk of crap, didn't fit anything well, I am so sorry to the horses I rode that saddle in), but that is not the norm.
On a better quality tree its also possible there was human error in the original construction, perhaps lamination wasn't done correctly, or a screw wasn't sunk properly, etc. A natural material may had had a fault, like a weak spot that went undetected. Also sometimes less than optimal materials are used, like a metal that rusts or disintegrates easily, and it weakens prematurely and cracks. A high end company might very well stand by their workmanship, even after decades.
The damage could have come from the stirrup catching on something and the horse pulling backwards / sideways, or it could have just been fatigue from constant use (remember, this is the left stirrup bar).
I've also heard that trees can crack from temperature change, though I have no idea if that's true or not.
I had a Wintec western saddle - both bars just ahead of the cantle snapped clean across; I wondered if someone had damaged it and not told me, but then I also heard the above. Was NOT covered under warranty either.
A friend of mine placed her saddle over the fence rail. Sizable kid comes along and climbs in saddle and pretends its a bronc....next time she used her saddle the tree was broken. Coincidence? Maybe...but I don't think so.
"My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."
I was moving and had a bunch of friends helping me out. I had a few older saddles in a collection, and one of my friends threw it on a chair, sat on it and pretended to be all "english and proper".
He was rocking back and forth on my saddle on the rail of a chair and I nearly had heart failure, hissed at him get.off.now. and then explained that they can indeed be broken easily under the right circumstances.
I have no idea how old this particular saddle is; we bought it used. It's a Keith Bryan, master saddler in England. How it got to our area is anyone's guess. As far as I know it has not suffered any traumatic accidents while in our ownership - no stirrups caught, no large idiots sitting on it, etc. It wasn't particularly cheap either, around $1,000 used as I recall.
Anyway, it is what it is. Saddle shopping on the calendar.
Thanks, Alto. I'll take a look. But don't "lifetime warranties" usually only work for the original buyer with a receipt?
Depends on the manufacturer. Some only honor it when they feel like it, and others will stand behind the warranty as long as there are no tire marks or signs of a horse rolling in it.
For Bates, I think it's a crappy materials issue. Mine *finally* got fixed after a year, though I have to send it out again to have the panels put back on correctly at my own expense. The tree they replaced it with has bubbles in the surface of the plastic. In cases like that, of course it's not going to stand up to much real use. The air bubbles create tons of weak spots in the plastic.