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Experience with treeless saddles

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  • Experience with treeless saddles

    Anyone here use a treeless saddle on a big mover? I have a horse that's hard to fit saddle-wise. Tried a treeless and it wouldn't stay put, to the point that I considered the saddle dangerous. Was it just that particular treeless, or is this a problem with horses that have a lot of suspension?

  • #2
    I used a Marshall on a QH that was, well, spunky. Felt like a DREAM! Loved that saddle and felt I had amazing contact. Now mind you this was a western, so I don't know about the others. I know DGRH has a treeless Dressage saddle. Can't remember what maker though
    I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

    Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by GreenTeaLeaves View Post
      Anyone here use a treeless saddle on a big mover? I have a horse that's hard to fit saddle-wise. Tried a treeless and it wouldn't stay put, to the point that I considered the saddle dangerous. Was it just that particular treeless, or is this a problem with horses that have a lot of suspension?
      The rigid tree in a saddle serves many purposes. The primary purpose is weight distribution. You just found out about another one: stability for the rider.

      Once upon a time all saddles were "treeless." Trees were invented to make horses more useful. They do this in many ways. In this case there is wisdom in history.

      G.
      Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

      Comment


      • #4
        All treeless saddles are not created equal. Generally the more you pay, the better the saddle...same as with any saddle. A common problem with stability in some of the cheaper/older treeless models was the lack of a gullet. Now, most of the newer ones have that or they have a pad that goes with the saddle that creates the gullet.

        I ride in a Fhoenix... a high end dressage treeless model and it is one of the most stable and best riding saddles I've ever ridden in. It is also remarkably comfortable. I've used it for years now on a variety of horses with no problems at all.

        Comment


        • #5
          I used to have an Ansur, but had to move to something with more stability. I went to a Timberline dressage model and have been very happy with it. The Timberlines have evolved from the OrthoFlex design. I wanted a saddle that would accommodate many different horses without adjustments and I've been very pleased with its versatility.

          Another selling point was a particular mare whose lousy attitude and movement in the Ansur, made a complete turnaround after about 5 minutes in the Timberline.

          Comment


          • #6
            I had a Fhoenix - my Mom got it for me as a gift and it was $$$ having it sent in from England.

            It last 2 months before I sold it. I just couldn't feel my horse beneath me, I felt like I had NO support - my lower back killed after all rides, and if my horse decided to flip out while riding him down to the indoor, well I found I couldn't "stick" like I usually can!

            My instructor, who also had one, blames riding in her treeless saddle for several years as aggravating her bone spur and now she can barely walk (needs hip replacement). Not saying it causes it, but having a serious hip problem in my R hip myself I don't want to take my chances.

            I have a custom-fitted, lightweight saddle for my pony and it stays put, she's happy, and when I massage her her back is RARELY sore at all. I wouldn't go back from trees.

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            • #7
              A friend that works at local sale barns had a horse flip over on him and broke is hip and leg badly.
              Once back riding, he could not ride in his regular saddle, so he got a Marshal treeless saddle and he could ride in that one without pain.
              Since he spends a good part of 16 hours on a horse, he said that with the treeless saddle, he had to change horses more often, or they would become sore on their backs.

              He is now back in a regular saddle and those don't make the horses sore.

              Maybe that the treeless saddle didn't protect horse's backs well enough was from the way he rode when he was crippled.

              I would want to try one for a while, before you buy it.

              Comment


              • #8
                As it should now be apparent, not all treeless saddles are the same, not all riders like them, not all horses like them.

                If you really want to give treeless a try, you can't just dislike the first one you sit in and declare them all unsuitable. By the same token, neither can you declare them the next best thing to sliced bread just because you've never found a bad one.

                Quite a few times I've heard riders say they don't like them because their horse moves too big in one

                Some of them do take a little creative padding to find the right combination, and not all riders are willing (or have the knowledge) to do that.
                ______________________________
                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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                • #9
                  I used to have a very wide heavily muscled mutton withered QH and couldn't find a saddle to fit him without causing issues. It got so bad I rode him bareback for about 6 months trying to find a saddle to fit him. I tried 3 different Orthoflex saddles, even drove him to a saddle shop and tried on 25 different saddles. Back in '96, While on a camping trip, I tried a Bob Marshall treeless saddle and it fit! I rode him for the next 4 years with that saddle and even on a trip to TN in the mountains and he was never sore from it. I do use the Skito saddle pads as they have shoulder inserts.
                  When I got home from that camping trip, I bought one and am still using that same saddle, though I no longer have that horse. I've had it on at least 20 different horses and it fit everyone of them.
                  I agree that it does make a difference in which saddle it is, if you're using the right pad and how the rider sits. I've been riding 40+ years and rode bareback alot, so I don't have issues with it. Treeless aren't for everyone but they certainly fill a niche for some of us.
                  Last edited by Heart's Journey; Dec. 14, 2009, 09:55 AM.

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                  • #10
                    It's good to hear others' opinions. I would not try another treeless, due to the lack of stability. The lack of stability is a huge minus for me, especially on a horse that naturally has so much motion. I also disliked the amount of padding on the saddle itself -- I felt like I couldn't feel the horse at all! There may be other saddles with less padding, but the lack of stability would still remain an issue. I could see it working well on a smooth gaited horse I guess.

                    If I weren't frustrated with conventional saddles I wouldn't have tried a treeless in the first place. When are saddle makers going to get their heads out of the sand and stop making so many saddles for table top backs?!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If you weren't planning to try another treeless, what is the point of this thread? That last comment truly surprises me. We, who have used treeless saddles, are telling you that stability is NOT an issue with all of them. JB's post is excellent...just like any saddle...they work for some folks but not all folks. You can't ride in one saddle and label them all the same...treed or treeless...that's nuts.

                      I tried two Ansur models before I switched to the Fhoenix and now you could not get me back in an Ansur dressage model again. No way. I've since ridden in Barefoots and Freeforms and again, it's preference and the horse's back that decides things.

                      My stallion, who is very sensitive, cannot go in a treed saddle...doesn't matter if it is professionally fitted. I put it on him, and he pins his ears and does not want to move forward. I put on a treeless and he's back to normal. I think he has made his preference very clear to me. Interestingly, he was about the same in all the treeless models I tried...it was for ME and my comfort that I ended up in a Fhoenix.

                      As for treeless saddles causing back damage in people...that's kind of nuts to make that assumption that it might happen to everyone who rides in one. I can't stand riding in treed saddles now as it feels like I have a block of wood between me and the horse...which I do. Comfort to a person or a horse is individual. If you are frustrated with conventional saddles, I'd not be too quick to write off all treeless saddles as you don't have too many other options.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by GreenTeaLeaves View Post
                        I would not try another treeless, due to the lack of stability. The lack of stability is a huge minus for me, especially on a horse that naturally has so much motion. I also disliked the amount of padding on the saddle itself -- I felt like I couldn't feel the horse at all! There may be other saddles with less padding, but the lack of stability would still remain an issue. I could see it working well on a smooth gaited horse I guess.
                        Your post makes absolutely no sense There are *treed* saddles that are not stable on certain horse body types. By your logic, having tried one of those would put you off all treed saddles

                        Now, because of a lack of rigid tree, there ARE certain horse and rider combos, or just certain riders, or just certain horses, where that is not physically (or mentally!) comfortable. Treeless is not for that person/that horse/that/combo.

                        But the same thing goes for treed saddles.

                        You cannot go by the generic notion that treeless saddles don't work for big moving horses just because you had a negative experience with (I assume) 1 treeless saddle on your 1 horse

                        DDB can probably say for sure as I think she knows, but I'm pretty sure there is at least 1 upper level Dressage rider using a treeless (Fhoenix I think) saddle, and I'd bet that horse isn't a dinky mover

                        If I weren't frustrated with conventional saddles I wouldn't have tried a treeless in the first place. When are saddle makers going to get their heads out of the sand and stop making so many saddles for table top backs?![/quote]
                        ______________________________
                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JB View Post
                          DDB can probably say for sure as I think she knows, but I'm pretty sure there is at least 1 upper level Dressage rider using a treeless (Fhoenix I think) saddle, and I'd bet that horse isn't a dinky mover
                          I know there are a number of upper level riders using these saddles in the UK where they were developed...and yes, I'm sure they are big moving horses. My own horses are pretty big movers and very quick/flexible and as stated earlier, I've had no stability issues. Like any saddle you need to girth it up well.

                          What I also love about the Fhoenix is NO special pads are needed and it has a built in gullet. I can mount from the ground with this saddle if I need to.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I've owned several treeless saddles and used them on a couple of horses. My Trakehener was a huge mover and my TB ain't too shabby.

                            My experience has been that different treeless saddles fit different (horse) body shapes better than others. I had a Torsion EL that I loved on my Trakehner (who was broad, low withers, and fairly barrel shaped) but would NOT stay stable on my TB who is more of an "A-Frame". I ride him in a Freeform and it is very stable.

                            I hated the early Barefoot saddles because I found they didn't have enough of a structure for me and they put me in a chair seat.

                            I believe that treed saddles do provide more support. It takes time to get used to a treeless saddle and as a rider, you do need more core stability.

                            For many riders most treeless saddles also stretch their hips in a way that rocks them back and puts their pelvis in the wrong position (putting them into a chair seat). The "twist" in a treed saddle prevents that from happening. I think that's why saddles like the Fhoenix and the Freeform are popular because they have more of a twist.

                            I don't ride exclusively treeless but I do like my treeless saddles because I enjoy being able to feel my horse's back better. As for my own comfort? If a saddle puts you in a balanced position I don't think it matters if you are riding treed or treeless.
                            Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                            EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bogie View Post

                              I don't ride exclusively treeless but I do like my treeless saddles because I enjoy being able to feel my horse's back better. As for my own comfort? If a saddle puts you in a balanced position I don't think it matters if you are riding treed or treeless.
                              This is why we like them. They are wonderful for the children to learn to feel the horse and the movement.
                              I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

                              Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Bogie View Post
                                For many riders most treeless saddles also stretch their hips in a way that rocks them back and puts their pelvis in the wrong position (putting them into a chair seat). The "twist" in a treed saddle prevents that from happening.
                                Oh, treed saddles absolutely can put a rider in a chair seat! Happens all the time. It's not just about the twist width, it's also about how far back the pommel/twist slope comes, the placement of the stirrup bars, and more. Treed and treeless saddles both have those issues
                                ______________________________
                                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Agree absolutely.

                                  Most people don't understand that the treeless saddles cause that because of the lack of twist.

                                  Of course, an equal number of them probably don't understand how much the position of the stirrup bars can impact their position, either .

                                  As someone with a super long femur, I've had to become an expert at figuring out how a saddle's balance point works because so few of them work for me!

                                  Originally posted by JB View Post
                                  Oh, treed saddles absolutely can put a rider in a chair seat! Happens all the time. It's not just about the twist width, it's also about how far back the pommel/twist slope comes, the placement of the stirrup bars, and more. Treed and treeless saddles both have those issues
                                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I'm a fan of the Wade tree myself. It hangs your leg under you and keeps your pelvis aligned no matter how much bounce your horse has.

                                    Picked this one up last spring.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      not to hijack the thread, but could someone explain to me the point of a treeless saddle?
                                      Oldenburgs do it better

                                      rip mystic puddin' 1984-2006
                                      rip banacek 1992-2007

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by danosaur View Post
                                        not to hijack the thread, but could someone explain to me the point of a treeless saddle?
                                        Trees are the internal frames of standard saddles and it is imperative that they fit perfectly or they can cause damage/pain to a horse's back. Some horses, for various reasons be it shape, breed, weight, sensitivity, etc... cannot be easily fitted by a treed saddle. A treeless saddle just does not have the wooden frame inside it so it makes it more comfortable for those horses.

                                        Supposedly treed saddles distribute weight better but studies conducted with treed and treeless saddles do not support that theory.

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