So, it has been discussed between my equine entourage and myself that my horse might suit a treeless saddle better than a treed saddle.
I have been looking around and have been suggested the "Sensation Formal Dressage Saddle (G4)" (http://www.nickerssaddlery.com/index...ormal-dressage).
For just under 1300$ CAN it is entirely customizable, which appeals to me because I will be able to finally have saddle flaps that don't overwhelm my petite 5' figure. Additionally, since these saddles are made and sold in Canada (where I live) I won't have to deal with expensive shipping charges and currency conversion charges.
Then again, I want what's best for my horse and won't let something as silly as shipping charges take away from his comfort.
Which is why I began looking at "fancier"/"professionally endorsed" treeless saddles.
Solution Saddles are made in the UK and have a fair more "traditional" look in regards to their dressage saddles when you compare them to the Sensation saddles.
Their "Original Smart Dressage" saddle goes for around 4000$ CAN (£2500), and their "Smart Sport Dressage" saddles is aprox. 3600$ CAN (£2250). Of course there is shipping, duty and taxes to add onto those prices.
I have the opportunity to try the Sensation saddle, but not the Solution saddles which is why I am looking for riders that have use/have tried either or both saddles to weigh in. Ansur saddles don't particularly appeal to me, but feel free to express yourself!
(Other opinions are welcome, although I am NOT looking to start a treeless vs. treed debate)
Tree-less saddles are definitely not for everyone, even when it fits your horse well, so I'd definitely try to ride in a demo saddle for at least a couple of weeks before committing to one (whether the Canadian or the UK version) - I suspect that liking the Sensation will not necessarily prepare you (or your horse) for the feel/ride of the Solution
I do know some people who have had Sensations custom made for their horse & the horse has refused to have anything to do with the saddle (as in sudden violent opposition) - unfortunately, saddles were final sale as fit was not the issue ...
(obviously I also know people that are very happy with their Sensations as well )
Whether or not a treeless saddle will work for your horse depends a lot on his conformation. I looked long and hard at the Sensation saddle and decided that it wouldn't work so well on my horse, who has pronounced withers. I believe it would work better with a rounder shape. It's difficult to find a treeless saddle that really fits a horse with prominent withers.
I have had several treeless saddles over the years -- Barefoot, Torsion, Freeform, Heather Moffett. The only one I've kept is the Freeform. I find it's the most comfortable for both me and my horse. It also has a fairly traditional appearance.
That said, I don't ride treeless all the time. In fact, I think my horse goes better in his Roosli than in any treeless (of all the ones I've had my horses disliked the Fhoenix the most).
I currently have a TB but also rode my Trakehner treeless some of the time. He had a better shape for treeless.
I would definitely ride in whichever treeless saddle you think you want to buy before making a commitment. Or buy used as you can generally resell and get your money out if it doesn't work for you.
I have had my Sensation Formal Dressage saddle for 4 years and I absolutely love it. It is the most comfortable saddle I have ever ridden in and everyone that has sat in it have said the same thing. My two horses have also loved it and one was extremely picky. My horses have been two different shapes (one medium withered, very wide shouldered, flat backed warmblood and one high withered, typically A-frame TB with atrophied muscles behind her shoulders) and neither have shown any sign of back trouble (and they are regularly checked by an excellent massage therapist). Once I am mounted, you cannot tell I am not riding in a "normal" treed saddle.
Sensation saddles are prominent and endorsed in the endurance community, which is where they "originate". The owner and designer (who I spoke with when I ordered my saddle!) is very helpful and their customer service is excellent.
Last edited by leheath; Jan. 10, 2013 at 01:18 AM.
Reason: Add info
Alto and Bogie, thanks for your input : )
I know that treeless saddles aren't for every horse due to their conformation, which is why I will try to ride in a demo saddle or borrow one for a week or two. I will also be getting my saddle-fitter out one last time to see if we can't find a treed saddle that would suit my horse (and my budget)
leheath: thank you so much for posting! I was hoping that someone with their own personal experience with the Sensation would post!
One of my biggest concerns with the treeless saddle is spinal clearance, can you give me some input on that? From the commercial pictures of the saddle, the spinal clearance seems to be rather narrow, how is it once on your horse?
And what kind of saddle pad do you use with your Sensation?
I find the spinal clearance to be more than adequate and my current horse has quite a prominent spine (much better now, but she was underweight and undermuscled when I got her). My horse had significantly atrophied muscles behind her shoulders, so I am currently using a corrector, shimmed half pad under my dressage saddle. Once that is no longer needed, I will just use a regular saddle pad under it. Under my jumping saddle, I just use an Equipedic pad as I want a bit more shock absorption when we jump.
Like Bogie I have tried and ridden in many treeless saddles over the years. I disliked the Sensation the most because it appeared cheaply made. The Vogue was too squishy. I liked the Freeform the most both for comfort and traditional appearance. Once my horse more fully developed and I began sitting the trot more I needed a saddle that helped my position a bit more than a treeless saddle could. I now ride in a Custom saddle.
I have had my Sensation saddles for several years and I have found they have held up well and have never seemed cheaply made to me. I had the opposite problem with the Vogue - rock solid in our cold winters! Probably not a problem in Arizona!
Years ago I had a Fhoenix that my ottb mare (not particularly boney, that one) loved, and I loved on her. We were not doing any strenuous work, but the work we did do she seemed quite comfortable...I could trust her to tell me when something was NQR - she was very, uhm, expressive.
Didn't have much luck with fhoenix much on other horses though- I had a downhill paint and it just slid on him. I tried it on a quarterpony and again, didn't like it on her either. My appy/arab mare was ticked off by it.
So at that point I tried a friend's Sensation, and voila- MUCH better. I really liked riding in that saddle. It was comfortable, felt stable once you were on it, the twist wasn't a killer, and it wasn't a brick in the winter. The only downside was the stability for mounting, if I recall. Additionally, I wanted my stirrups to be able to swing traditionally rather than be attached low, and I had a few problems with that too. But- this was years ago and maybe the structure has changed?
I also tried a Torsion - and omg you could not get me out of that thing fast enough. well, it pulled my legs apart so wide I actually needed help getting out of it. LOL
Last year one of the local tack stores had a freeform - so i sat in it out of curiosity. I didn't find it particularly comfortable, but I also wouldnt discount it. But on first sit, I could tell you that immediately I thought the Sensation was better.
You can either the low attachment or the free swing (traditional) stirrup attachment on the current Sensation saddles. I ride in both mine with the stirrups in the normal, free swinging position. I also have no trouble mounting from the ground (on my previous horse...my current horse is 17.1hh so mounting from the ground just isn't going to happen!), but my horses both have withers.
leheath - how did your stirrups attach for the free swing option? If i remember correctly, on the sensation i was using, the stirrups were attached to a velcro patch that was secured under the seat - thus making it a bit difficult to use as a mount up. Has this changed?
The e-bars that I attach my stirrup leathers to are attached to a velcro patch that passes under the seat of the saddle. I'm not quite sure what you mean about that making it difficult to use as a mount up? I have no problems mounting with the stirrups in this setup...
I'll admit, I don't remember exactly the set up, this was a few years back. But, i do remember the velcro piece not being sticky enough and if attempting to mount up, the pieces would pull apart. So I just used a mounting block, but couldn't go on trails with it for that reason.
LOL, mine is so sticky it takes everything I've got to detach it! Definitely no problem mounting from the ground...if only I hadn't just purchased a 17.1hh horse that I will never be able to mount from the ground even if I wanted to (previous horse was only 16hh and I mounted from the ground on several occassions)!
good to know! I have been tossing around the idea of getting one for my standardbred gelding for trail riding...but at 16.1 hh, need something i can depend on for mounting. I may have to revisit these after all!
Treeless can be a great option for some horses and riders. Just keep in mind that you need to have the treeless saddle fitted just as you would a treed saddle. My go-to for help with treeless is Abby at www.saddlingsolutions.com. She's an excellent fitter and could probably answer your questions. You can find out a bit more on treeless vs. treed at http://saddlefitter.blogspot.com/sea...less+vs.+treed.
While I agree that not all treeless saddles are suitable for very horse or every ride, I have not found that they require an expert saddle fitter (especially not on site as I have previously required for my trees saddles). I have never needed a saddle fitter to assist me with any of my treeless saddles, although I have consulted with the maker (Nickers Saddlery for my Sensation saddles) regarding appropriate saddle pads and/or saddle modifications for my particular uses. That said, the Saddling Solutions website looks full of useful information and a good resource. If you want more information specifically about the Sensations, the actually creator/designer is often available for consultation (and very helpful) by phone.
I went down the treeless path years ago & the best I've tried is the barefoot saddles http://www.barefoot-saddles.com/
Between my friend & I we have the Cheyenne, the Cherokee & the Arizona Nut (western). When I was competing I would use the Cheyenne all the time for schooling, lessons etc then would put a 'normal' dressage saddle on for comps.
I also have a Fhoenix which is SO AWESOME but only when you're on an uphill horse. There are pads you can mess around with but I haven't bothered since I went back to the Cheyenne when I found a second hand one.
Edited to add: the next on my list to try is the barefoot London & Lexington. They look more traditional than the others but I imagine they would ride the same as the others.
Last edited by RillRill; Feb. 7, 2013 at 02:00 AM.
Reason: More info :)