Treeless Saddle

In the realm of horseback riding, the treeless saddle is a bit of a lightning rod. People that are familiar with this new style either adore it or despise it. We will attempt to clarify the opposing viewpoints on this contentious issue. However, keep in mind that this saddle style is still relatively new, and it will take some time to see what part, if any, it will play in the saddlery world.

Characteristics Of A Treeless Saddle

  • There are no bars connecting the fork and cantle, unlike a saddle with a saddle tree.
  • The bars are replaced by layers or panels of material (leather, nylon, rubber, foam, etc.).
  • The material should be soft enough to contour to the horse’s back while being firm enough to clear the spine.
  • This saddle allows you to ride very close to the horse.
  • It is like riding without a back pad.
  • As a result of the design, the seat is somewhat wide.
  • It is suggested that you use a saddle pad created specifically for these saddles to help with weight distribution.
  • It is suggested that you use a breast collar to keep the saddle from rolling.
  • They are available in a variety of styles, including endurance, trail, and barrel.
  • They are quite light.
  • This is not a working saddle.

Treeless Saddles Advantages

Treeless saddle proponents argue that wood trees are inflexible and do not bend, causing pain and limiting movement. They believe that trees provide another layer between the rider and the horse, interfering with communication and feeling. They think that without a tree, a saddle will flex and conform to the shape and movement of a horse. They are in closer contact with their horse and their horse moves more freely with a treeless saddle. Many supporters will tell you how their horse changed for the better once they switched to a treeless saddle.

Treeless Saddles Disadvantages

Opponents of treeless saddles argue that by removing the bars, they have removed the main foundation and the method of uniformly dispersing weight across the horse’s back’s maximal surface area. As a result, the seat rides low on the gullet, putting strain on the spine. Opponents contend that without the bars, the saddle is unstable and prone to slipping from side to side, making mounting difficult. While supporters emphasize the similarity to bareback riding, opponents argue that bareback riding is not a very joyful experience for the horse (especially for less experienced riders).

If you have spent any time on the Western Saddle Guide, you have undoubtedly seen that we lean toward the conventional, thus treeless saddles make us a little nervous.

We sympathize with the countless riders and horses who suffer from improper saddle fit. However, we believe that the issue is not with the structure of a saddle tree, but rather with its quality. The proliferation of low-cost, low-quality manufactured saddles with cookie-cutter synthetic trees has resulted in the saddle fit problem that so many people are facing. A well-made treeless saddle may be a better option for certain people than the low-quality traditional saddles they have been using. However, we believe that a high-quality traditional saddle tailored to the type of horse they ride (size and conformation) would be a preferable option.

We also have reservations about the breadth of some treeless producers’ promises. You will be made to believe that you have discovered the treatment for every horse ailment known to man if you read their book. According to the literature, if your horse has a problem, a treeless saddle will solve it. Many companies claim that treeless saddles are suited for horses of any age, size, breed, or conformation. Common sense should advise you to avoid people who make statements like this.

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