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  1. #1
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    Default Spinoff -Which Treeless?

    So, in the "Frustrating Riding Buddy" thread we were discussing treeless as a part of the discussion.

    Right now I'm considering the EZ fit -a kind of endurance hybrid I apparently can set dressage stirrup position with http://ezfittreelesssaddles.com/index.html, and the Barefoot dressage saddle that comes with D rings for trail riding http://www.barefootsaddlesusa.com/Ba...addle_p/lo.htm , and the Freedom dressage/trail saddle http://www.freedomtreeless.com/saddl...--dressag.html

    Any feedback on these three? Any others I should look at? See my price range -about 1k. I really can't spend more. So that rules out Ansur and Fhoenix unfortunately.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  2. #2
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    Default

    Personally I have a Black Forest Aspen and a Barefoot London (dressage). My Black Forest is my go to saddle- I love that saddle and so far I've gotten perfect back scores using it in competition (LD's, CTR's). I just got my Barefoot London a few months ago. I do really like it for ring work but I don't love it for steep hills out on the trail. Both of the saddles are very comfy and work well for my Morgans.
    Honestly though, I think you're just going to have to try some out and see what you like. For example, as much as I love my Aspen, I know a lot of women don't like that it has a super wide twist.
    And don't forget to keep in mind for your budget that proper padding with a treeless is absolutely necessary!!!!!! and it's expensive. I have close to $400 just in the padding for my Aspen.
    “While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats.” Mark Twain



  3. #3
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    Dec. 21, 2010
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    Default

    You didn't say what type of riding you plan to do with a treeless saddle. What "style" of saddle do you prefer? How much do you weight? Do you walk mostly? Trot while posting mostly, etc.

    I've owned at least 10 different treeless saddles and have learned a lot. MOST brands I wouldn't buy because they are basicly bareback pads with a pommel cantle at the ends and stirrups hung over the non-structured middle. Hence, poor weight distribution. If you are largely a pleasure rider or ring rider who spends a fairly short time on top of your horse then these may work for you. But they can be really hard on the riders hips and lower back because many of them don't provide enough structure and twist for rider comfort.

    There are "treeless saddles with more structure. And yes, saddles pads can help with weight distribution to some extent.

    So, can you tell us more about your riding style and needs?

    Bonnie



  4. #4
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    Default

    It's mostly personal preference for you and your horse but that said....I LOVE my Sensation Hybrid. I've ridden in the Sensation Dressage, liked it ok but I prefered the hybrid. If I were to ever get another treeless saddle it would be another Sensation. I just don't think there is any other brand that has the amount of customization options available that the Sensations have. All the guts under the seat of the saddle are replaceable too so even it starts to break down years down the road it can be made "new" again....replacement seats won't cost an arm and a leg either.
    "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."



  5. #5
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    Default

    Sorry for that oversight. My focus is dressage, but when I say that it sounds like we're schooling or showing. Not yet. We're training and playing. I would like to debut him next year in dressage however. We also hack out regularly and I would like us to try working equitation and competitive trail. So for me the saddle has to be versatile, but it should have dressage placement of the stirrups (a long leg). The sensation dressage hybrid looks really neat and there's a used one for sale with pads and irons (but it's the safety irons) for $1000.00. I just think I should actually try it first.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  6. #6
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    Aug. 15, 2009
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    Knoxville, TN
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    Default

    I love my Bandos (but it's not a dressage saddle). My Barefoot is pretty great. The kids love the Black Forest, but one of our three horses does NOT.



  7. #7
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    Default

    Of the three you listed, I think the Sensation is probably your best bet. I don't know anything about the first saddle you posted. I've heard mixed reviews about the Barefoot London so you'd really need to try it before you bought one. I owned a Barefoot saddle years ago and wasn't impressed with the quality but that may have changed. The Barefoot that I owned had stirrup bars that were set too far forward for me (very long femurs) so it put me in a chair seat. The Barefoot is the only one that looks traditional enough to show in, however.

    Is treeless a good idea for you? Hard to know since I think you are at the beginning stages of your journey into dressage. Keep the following in mind:
    1. Most treeless saddles are not quite as stable on your horse's back as treed saddles. If you are not very balanced, you will find yourself moving more on your horse's back. This can especially be an issue if you want to ride trails and hills. This is particularly an issue if you have a horse that is "round". Horses with a bit of withers do better. On a green horse, I think they do better with more stability from the rider.
    2. Treeless saddles give you a great feel for your horse's back, but sometimes can transmit too much "noise" to your horse, especially if you are not very quiet and balanced with your seat. Once again, I think it helps your horse to have the rider supported by the tree.
    3. Treeless saddles today are MUCH better at distributing a rider's weight than they used to be (especially when you use special pad, if needed). However, if you do not consider yourself to be "light in the saddle" (I am not referring to a rider's actual weight, but rather the ability of a rider to be responsible for their own weight -- no bouncing, not off balance, etc.) then treeless does not offer your horse the same amount of protection and support as a well fitted treed saddle.
    So, what do I know? I have owned several treeless saddles -- Barefoot, Torsion, Freeform, Heather Moffett -- along with treed saddles. I am neither small nor light (I'm 6' tall). I still own the Freeform, which I really like and I used the others for dressage and trail riding. I've been on some pretty technical trails riding treeless. The Freeform allows you to move the position of the stirrups which is handy. You also can switch seats so different sized people can use the saddle.

    My horses have never had sore backs (except with the Heather Moffett), but I still think they move better in treed saddles.

    If you have $1K to spend, I think you would be much better off buying a used treed saddle that originally retailed for $2-3K.
    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.



  8. #8
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    Default

    Bogie,

    I really appreciate how much time you took for your post.

    I'd thought about treeless in passing along time ago and put it aside. I'm revisiting it again because my horse is really ridiculously hard to fit a treed saddle. Fella (Perch/STB) has a short, curvy back so everything I've thrown on him lately (Toulouse, Thorowgood, Barnsby, Hastilow) bridged. I've been riding him in a bareback pad for more than a month now -a few times a week. I found that he has relaxed so much and moves freer with the pad. Not to mention my seat has improved with the pad (for example, my aids have been separating and I am also much more relaxed).

    In hindsight all the issues I had with him not standing for mounting, jigging when tacking up, and more than likely the bucking his previous trainer experienced, were from other saddles not fitting (my Wintec 500 and her Albion)!

    So here I am looking for the elusive banana-shaped treed saddle, while at the same time riding a very different horse (tension-wise) bareback. I can't help but wonder if I am putting my efforts towards the wrong thing -that elusive banana shaped dressage saddle. I thought, if he goes so well in a Best Friends bareback pad that has no support, maybe the solution is a treeless saddle with good support?

    So this is why I'm revisiting treeless.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  9. #9
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    Jan. 30, 2005
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    Default

    Paula, I just ordered a Barefoot Atlanta, with VPS, from Action Rider Tack to try on my curvy backed, high withered gelding. His current saddle - a Wintec Pro Dressage - is bridging (and he was bucking), so like you, I've been riding bareback. I'd continue, but I'm worried about pressure on his spine, plus I'd like a bit more security.

    I'm a little nervous - the total with the pads/leathers/stirrups came to over $1200 and I haven't bought anything that expensive for myself in quite a while.



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulaedwina View Post
    I thought, if he goes so well in a Best Friends bareback pad that has no support, maybe the solution is a treeless saddle with good support?
    Not exactly an apples to apples comparison. With a bareback pad you do not have stirrups. The pressure from your weight in the stirrups and how it is dissipated is the real issue here -- without adequate weight distribution, you have the potential of putting a heck of a lot of pressure in the area right over/behind your horse's withers. Pressure on the nerves can be very painful and cause muscle atrophy.

    Once you add stirrups, you change the equation completely.
    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.



  11. #11
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    Default

    Gosh, Bogie you're giving me so much more information than I've had. You've helped me understand something I read about the history of the treed saddle. The tree helps distribute the weight of your feet in the stirrups!

    What do treeless designs do to compensate for this? Would a broader anchor for the stirrups help -or even a V shaped anchor for the stirrups? I imagine posting trot is going to be the most pressure.

    Zakkandtoto, $1200 sounds like a bargain. Dressage saddles are at least that far too often. It looks like that's what I'll be spending as well.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  12. #12
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    It is one of the reasons why I am skeptical about treeless jumping saddles. Sure, I know they are okay over small jumps, but when I think of how much downward pressure is applied over the stirrup attachments when landing over a jump . . .

    It is the reason why I don't think my Pheonix worked. Interestingly, the Heather Moffett rep that I spoke to had a similar opinion.

    It's also why you need a saddle that has enough structure and/or padding to dissipate the weight of your body in your stirrups and, perhaps, why treeless saddles often work well for lighter riders.

    I'm not saying they don't work at all, please don't get me wrong. I like my Freeform a lot -- I think that in combination with my skito pad, it keeps my horse's back happy (and I've used it on three horses, all with different conformations). But I think you need to be careful that what you buy really suits your needs.

    They need to be a lot more than just a bareback pad with stirrups.

    I think the fact that many of the new designs have gullets is very positive (although the Freeform doesn't have one) but although that protects the horse's spine, it doesn't address the issue of weight over the stirrup "bars" for lack of a better term.

    If you want to know which saddles perform best, I'd look to see what the endurance riders are using. They put serious miles on their horses/saddles and if they can have horses with happy backs they are doing something right. Freeform and Torsion are two that come to mind -- they probably run $1500-$2000 new, but you can find them used for less.

    Probably a place to start would be a site like www.endurance.net.

    There also is a yahoo treeless saddle group that I've found helpful in the past.

    If you are looking for treed saddles that fit wide, round horses, try Duett. Nancy Temple lives in my area and I bought a saddle from her several years ago (not a Duett, she used to sell used saddles). She had just started repping that line. I think she's very helpful and I've read good things about them.
    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.



  13. #13
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    Thanks, Bogie. I joined the Yahoo group but my membership is pending -has been for a few days now. I did notice that the Sensation saddles are gulleted. The EZfit seems to be, but it's hard to tell on the website. I'm going to take a closer look. I've seen the Skito pad on the Sensation website too.

    I'll check out Endurance.net thanks. The thing with Fella isn't the round or the wide, it's the short and curvy (back). I'll keep researching. I don't jump -I like dressage, trail, and the like.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  14. #14
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    Freeform makes a "short base" version for short backed horses. The only limitation is that you can't use the larger seat sizes on it. Can't remember how large the seats go on that version.

    There's a nice brand new one on eBay right now for a wicked good price.

    Keep in mind that some of the treeless saddles, especially the ones with deep seats, ride small. The Freeform, the pheonix and I believe the London all pretty much need you to go up a size from a standard seat. So if you ride in a 17", you need an 18".
    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.



  15. #15
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    The sensation rep told me that very thing. I was looking at the dressage trail 17.5 and she said if I usually ride 17.5/18 that one would fit small. She wants to send me her English trail hybrid to try and if it works will custom a Dressage trail.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulaedwina View Post
    Gosh, Bogie you're giving me so much more information than I've had. You've helped me understand something I read about the history of the treed saddle. The tree helps distribute the weight of your feet in the stirrups!

    What do treeless designs do to compensate for this? Would a broader anchor for the stirrups help -or even a V shaped anchor for the stirrups? I imagine posting trot is going to be the most pressure.

    Zakkandtoto, $1200 sounds like a bargain. Dressage saddles are at least that far too often. It looks like that's what I'll be spending as well.

    Paula
    Many treeless designs have the stirrups anchored or partially anchored at the bottom of the flap. This helps to distribute the stirrup pressure over the entire saddle. Girth pressure is similarly dealt with. Sensation has three possible ways to attach stirrups. Free swing, where the stirrups are attached under the seat much like a regular saddle. Hard Use which is attached to the stirrup plate under the seat and at the bottom of the flap and Endurance which is connected only at the bottom of the flap. I've used the hard use and free swing and actually prefer the hard use configuration after an adjustment period. You can demo for free (just pay shipping) from any Sensation Dealer. I demoed and purchased mine from Melissa @ www.freedomtreeless.com
    "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."



  17. #17
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    I'm in contact with Melissa. I just need to print out and send out the demo form. I just borrowed an EZ fit from a fellow poster and will be trying that out this week.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulaedwina View Post
    I'd thought about treeless in passing along time ago and put it aside. I'm revisiting it again because my horse is really ridiculously hard to fit a treed saddle. Fella (Perch/STB) has a short, curvy back so everything I've thrown on him lately (Toulouse, Thorowgood, Barnsby, Hastilow) bridged.
    Bogie is super-knowledgable. Really good info.

    Paula, have you looked at saddles specifically designed for the shorter, curvier backed horses? Black Country makes a really nice one called the BCS Eden which is a dressage saddle, but I know they make a couple of endurance saddles as well if that's what you're looking for. They have a zillion panel, tree, flap, roll, etc. options so you could very well end up with a saddle that makes you and your horse say "Ahhhh" without any of the issues you're currently having.

    I have had a couple of treeless saddles and while I know they work for some people, and I was a big supporter as well, they both eventually made my horse's back sore. After working hard to find a treed saddle that fits her (ended up being a Passier Grand Gilbert in our case) the difference is amazing. Judging from how well she's going now, I think she was back sore in the treeless before I even realized it and made the change. I hate to think that she was so uncomfortable under saddle.

    That's not to say treeless won't work for your horse, I'm not saying that at all. I just think think it's worth exploring all angles while you're at it, and the treed saddles built specifically for your horse's shape are certainly worth giving a few test rides.

    I know she's not super-close to you, but it's not entirely prohibitive (road-tip, perhaps?)... Britta Rizzi at Dynamic Equine Saddle Fitting is very experienced with treeless saddles as well as treed saddles, and she's a distributor for Black Country Saddles as well (the Eden I mentioned above is by that company). She could be a really great resource for you whether you go treeless or treed. It might be worth seeing if she's coming to your area, or at least chat with her about your situation. She's a really nice lady.



  19. #19
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    Okay, I just looked at the stirrup rigging options for the Sensation Saddles. I think it's great they offer those alternatives.

    However, there is a safety issue with the closed ring stirrup attachments that needs to be considered.

    Closed rings do not release the stirrups if you fall and get hung up. You can get around it with safety stirrups, I guess, but it is something that I find troubling. Sensation actually makes an "e-bar" stirrup base which I think is much safer. I'm surprised they don't show it in their rigging photos and I'd want to better understand why they don't.

    I use it on my own Freeform saddle. It is standard on the Heather Moffett saddles.

    I wrote about it on my blog:

    http://equineink.com/2011/10/25/ridi...e-safely-ebar/

    I've actually written quite a bit on treeless saddles there so if you are interested you can do a search on the blog.

    A saddle is a big investment. I think before you purchase one, you should spend some time with a good saddle fitter so they can show you the options and demonstrate how a saddle does . . . or does not fit your horse. I have spent more than a decade working with a great fitter -- Gary Severson -- and he teaches me something every time he fits my saddles (twice a year). He's in Pennsylvania so it's possible you can catch him at a barn where he's already doing some work.

    The price of purchasing a saddle that doesn't work for your horse is more than the cost of the saddle -- horses that are back sore develop evasions and resistance that can really cause problems. While some horses are more tolerant of an ill fitting saddle at first, over time it can manifest itself in issues that are hard and expensive to fit.

    And, just because a horse goes well in a saddle initially, that is not a guarantee that is an indicator of fit. Sometimes a horse is just plain relieved that the "new" saddle is not pressing on the same pressure points.

    Some horses just work well in a variety of saddles; others it takes some time to find the right solution.

    Good luck with your search and always ask questions.

    For example, one question for which I have not yet heard an answer is why, if treeless saddles promote a better, healthier back, do you not see them in upper level dressage competitions? These are riders that do everything possible to showcase their horse's gaits. What makes a saddle suitable for endurance (where they are widely use) but not dressage?

    Why do so few treeless saddle makers offer proof of weight distribution? Port Lewis impression pads can highlight pressure points and there are other systems available. I once asked the owner of Ansur why they didn't do a study that showed their saddles distributed weight more evenly. Never got an answer on that one although their newer saddles now have gullets.
    Last edited by Bogie; Oct. 4, 2012 at 03:24 PM.
    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bogie View Post
    Okay, I just looked at the stirrup rigging options for the Sensation Saddles. I think it's great they offer those alternatives.

    However, there is a safety issue with the closed ring stirrup attachments that needs to be considered.

    Closed rings do not release the stirrups if you fall and get hung up. You can get around it with safety stirrups, I guess, but it is something that I find troubling. Sensation actually makes an "e-bar" stirrup base which I think is much safer. I'm surprised they don't show it in their rigging photos and I'd want to better understand why they don't.

    I use it on my own Freeform saddle. It is standard on the Heather Moffett saddles.

    I wrote about it on my blog:

    http://equineink.com/2011/10/25/ridi...e-safely-ebar/

    I've actually written quite a bit on treeless saddles there so if you are interested you can do a search on the blog.
    The closed ring is standard, the e-bar is optional. I own both but I use caged stirrups when I use the closed ring base. I actually purchased the e-bar attachment to use on my extra saddle, a Bandos Trail, that only comes with closed ring attachment.
    "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."



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