When I first got my treeless saddle I was so excited to give it a try! We had been struggling along with the Wintec Wide, neither myself, Billy or Chloe had enjoyed it much. We were ready for something different.
Boy oh boy was treeless different!
The first thing I noticed was how high my new saddle sat. It was like a sky scraper sitting up on Billy’s back. I knew from all my research that the saddle starts out that way, but after 20 hours of riding it will soften and take the form of your rear end. Walla! No more sky scraper!
The other thing was NO MOUNTING FROM THE GROUND. The saddle was slip sliding all over both Billy and Chloe’s back even when I mounted from my pedestal or a fence. I would get on them and the saddle would immediately slide to the side. This had me worried because Billy is a youngster and there may be antics that I will have to ride through. I was wondering just how I was going to do that on a saddle that slides around when we are just standing still!
However, as I mentioned in the other post, I don’t have a saddle budget. THIS saddle was going to have to work. So I set off to do more research. There must be a way to make the saddle more stable!
I found this wonderful article about girth length. ( Scroll down the page to the article “Is Your Cinch Too Long?” by Richard Sacks.)
And walla! Things started to fall into place. I had been using the girth I had for the Wintec Wide saddle, a 34″ Montana Cincha girth. It was a beautiful mohair girth that would not cause Billy to itch and wouldn’t pinch or cause sores when he got sweaty. But it was waaaay too long. Because it was so long it was basically making a nice ring around Billy’s body. Allowing the saddle to just roll around and around. Also it wasn’t wide enough to help distribute the pressure on his brisket (see photo below for where the brisket is located). When using a treeless saddle, often you will need to have your girth a bit tighter than on a treed saddle and this can put more pressure on their brisket area, which can be uncomfortable if the girth is too narrow.
So I pulled out chloe’s little 22″ girth and gave it a try! The saddle was so much more stable, I was totally amazed.
My mom bought me the leather girth that Rocky Creek Hill offers for their treeless saddles. They are shorter and wider than the average girth. Perfect for their treeless saddles of course! I asked for a 20″ girth as I felt the 22″ was still a bit too long.
Here is a photo of what it looks like with the beautiful 20″ leather girth.
There was still a bit of slippage going on that I attributed to my Woolback dressage pad. It’s my opinion that if you are going to have a treeless saddle it’s best to also use a saddle pad made for the treeless saddles. My Woolback is not. To help with that I got out my scissors and cut a wide patch out of the middle of my pad, along the spinal channel of the pad. Doing this alone, has greatly helped stabilize the saddle even more. I plan to save my pennies and purchase the 5 Star treeless saddle pad. I have a friend that has one and it’s such a beautiful pad. It’s real felted wool, not mixed with plastic as most of the felted wool pads are.
(I can not use anything plastic against Billy’s skin because of his allergies. He will break out in hives. How horrible that would be under his sweaty saddle pad!)
Another issue that cropped up when I first rode in my treeless saddle were the stirrups.
There is a BIG flat ring under a flap on the saddle that the stirrup leathers buckle around. However I found that the placement of this ring was too far back, throwing me forward onto my horses withers and neck. How weird! It was quite unsettling at first. So I hopped off and tried moving my leathers forward on the ring, but they wouldn’t stay of course… so I lengthened my stirrups two holes and climbed back on. Problem solved! Plus my stirrups still hit right at my ankle bone, as they should.
Another thing I learned in all my researching was that the treeless saddles actually need to be placed further FORWARD than a treed saddle. Since the treeless saddles don’t have a tree there is nothing that can pinch or bang into the horse’s shoulder. Having the saddle farther forward puts your weight on the horses ‘center of motion’ which also helps keep the saddle stable and the horse comfortable.
These are just a few of the hints and tips I ran across in my research. I thought it would be helpful to have them all in one place right here so that others can learn from my mistakes and hopefully have a wonderful first ride in their treeless saddle! Also these were a few things that I was not prepared for that kept me up at night wondering if I had made the right choice for myself and my horses. If you are armed with the correct information from the get go things are so much easier and you don’t feel like the treeless saddle people are lying about their product!
Treeless saddles can be really wonderful if you are using them properly.