No to the Hilason. They are crap, pure and simple. A waste of money.
Best English style treeless is the Sensation (made in Canada). Outstanding design, quality materials, and superior comfort. I foxhunt in mine, and no one ever picked up that it wasn't the classic English treed. Sensation Dealers will have loaner saddles for you to try. The English Trail is the closest representation to your standard AP English treed, and is also the model I use for foxhunting. If you prefer the dressage look, they do have a lovely dressage model.
Barefoot is another I would recommend. Extremely comfortable, reasonably priced.
Run far, far away from Hilason!!! They are naught but junk- if you do a search on them here, you'll find pages and pages of the same response.
I currently have a Black Forest Aspen which is my main saddle- I LOFF it! It's is by far the most comfy thing I have ever ridden in and my horses do fabulous in it. I also have a Barefoot London which is their dressage saddle. It is also very comfy and works great in the ring, but I'm not in love with it on the trails. The big thing with treeless is getting the padding correct.
“While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats.” Mark Twain
ditto re: run from Hilason.
I have a Sensation Hybrid and LOVE it. I demoed and purchased mine from Melissa at www.freedomtreeless.com. She has several models that you can demo before you make a decision. The main differences in the Sensations vs other treeless brands is that the Sensations have NO hard parts in them at all, yet are very structured and supremely comfortable for you and your horse. They are also surprisingly secure. The Barefoots and Black Forests have a hard pommel and cantle. It just depends on what works for you and your horse. I think the Sensations English and Dressage models look more mainstream than the Barefoots and Black Forests. The Sensations are very well made, with quality materials and North American leathers. The fun thing about the Sensations is that each saddle is made to order, you get to choose the leather texture and colors, placement and number of D rings, length of flap and saddle size...etc, etc, etc. You might want to join the treeless saddle group in Yahoo! groups: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/treelesssaddles/
I joined the group and googled every brand of saddle mentioned but kept going back to the Sensations with the the Hybrid holding my attention. I found out that Melissa at Freedom Treeless lives close to me and I was able to demo the saddle, fell in love the first time I sat in it.
"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 agree you might actually be trying something that's too wide. Or the angle the tree might be wrong and you need a more 'hoop' shaped tree than a 'vee' shaped tree. A lot of standard-type saddles, the tree is shaped like an upside-down V so even if you go wider, it's still going to make pressure points so horses shaped the way you describe usually need a tree shaped more like an upside-down U (like Duett, etc).
That said, Hilasons are crap and definitely an example of you get what you pay for.
I'll be the black sheep lol. Hilasons can absolutely be crap. I've heard to omany bad things to believe otherwise. BUT my daughter bought me one last Christmas for my Walker. It was hands down, the MOST comfortable saddle I've ever ridden in. I rode some major trails with him, realllly steep hills- it never moved. LOVED riding in it- except it had a very high cantle I didn't like that. It slid sideways though every time I'd try to get on from the ground and that was the deal breaker for me. The one she got me had decent leather and seemed to be put together pretty well, I had no issues with it other than the sliding while mounting. If you have a local one for sale to take a peek at and ride in, I'd say it might be worth a look-see.
I have a Barefoot that is quite nice, a Bandos that I dearly love, and my son rides in a Black Forest that he likes a lot. The horses seem to not like the Black Forest quite as much - well, two of them anyway. I have one wide, round mare with flat withers (actually quite strange), and all of the treeless saddles do fine on her.
Have you looked at Duett saddles? http://duettsaddles.com/ They are a quality English saddle but come in wide widths and seem to do well on mutton-withered table-backed horses. Some do come up for sale used.
Kitt Hazelton is a saddlefitter and has a blog - http://saddlefitter.blogspot.com/ - and discusses things like shapes of saddle trees - like hoop shaped (sounds like your horse) or "A" shaped (like typical TBs) and provides useful info in saddle shopping (and fitting, of course).
I'm going to be a black sheep too. I just bought a used Hilason that is a knockoff of the BM trail saddle.
The seller let my try it first. The horse I was riding to try it spooked, pranced and in general acted like a fool. The saddle didn't move. I don't tighten the girth up really tight and am heavy. I don't mount from the ground in any saddle, but it stayed in place when dismounting.
Usually my knees hurt after maybe an hour and a half of riding. We rode for 2 hours, and I could have kept going.
One of the ladies riding with me had the BM that looked like mine so I could do some comparison. I think I got one of the "good" ones. It seems well made and the leather doesn't look cheap. I'm sure it will wear out before a BM but hopefully by then I can afford one.
Today I used it on my tank of a QH. He has a totally different build but the saddle didn't move and was very comfortable.
I have a mutton back no withers ,fat, MFT mare and the only saddle that made her happy was a old circle Y semi-quarter horse bar light weight western. I hate it but she gaits like a dream in it. I can really tell if a saddle fits by the way the horse moves under me and the bigger they move with a smoother ride ,moving freely and no tail twitching ,then I know it fits. Fitting me is a bigger problem. People laugh at this old beat up saddle ,(much repaired with different color leathers) i ride and actually because of a new injury(mine) I am looking for a new saddle.
Horses it never stops........