How to Buy a Treeless Saddle

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How to Buy a Treeless Saddle

There are many different types of saddle that can be used to fit on a horse. Each one has its own benefits and specific uses. This guide will concentrate on treeless saddles and the best way to purchase one. eBay has a number of saddles on their online platform ranging from treeless saddles, saddle pads, and saddlecloths.

What Are Treeless Saddles?

A treeless saddle is missing the wooden tree backbone that comes with the treed saddle. Because of this, and the fact they are usually made from leather with foam padding, they provide extra comfort. This also suits horses with an awkward shape; a horse with a broad build or uneven back/shoulders may prefer a treeless saddle. Another benefit is that they provide relief for the horse’s spine. Other saddles may offer more security but don’t allow for the freedom and relief the treeless saddle provides. Additionally, the thinner nature of the saddle means the rider feels closer to the horse.

Below is a list detailing other main types of saddles and their uses to give a broader knowledge of the market:

General Purpose Saddle – Ideal for the beginner as they balance the rider well and can be used for a variety of types of riding.

  • Dressage Saddle – Designed for the more advanced rider competing in flat-lined dressage events. They are more streamlined to suit the delicate nature of the sport.
  • Racing Saddle – Specifically for jockeys, the racing saddle is a flat saddle designed to allow the rider to race along courses with jumps at high speeds.
  • Side Saddle – Initially created for women when conservative social norms were rigidly enforced. It allows the rider to sit on a horse with both legs facing the same way..
  • Jumping Saddle – This saddle is shaped in a manner to assist the rider when attempting jumps, with bigger flaps to protect the legs when landing.

Advice on Buying a Treeless Saddle

The main thing to consider is comfort and if the saddle is suited to a specific body type. It is best practice not to have anything distracting the rider from the satisfaction of riding. Keep in mind:

-  Does it fit in with your weight and shape?

-  Does it complement the horses’ build?

-  Will it be suitable for the type of riding that will be carried out?

-  Does the price range fall within budget?

These tips are pretty basic when it comes to buying any saddle. There are further aspects to consider however when it comes to making a treeless saddle purchase in-store or online.

If buying from an equestrian shop, be sure to try on the saddle before-hand to make sure it fits properly. Feel free to try on all the different types available to get an objective viewpoint. When buying online, use the guide in the table below to ensure the best fit.

Ask the attendant for any professional fitting advice before buying. They can assist with any minor discrepancies and give instructions on any adjustment options available. 

Some suppliers offer their saddles on a trial basis, where riders can use it for an extended amount of time to ensure it’s the right model. The FreeForm saddle company has this option. A small fee will possibly be added on for this.

It’s best to buy a brand name treeless saddle as they give an assurance of quality. If it hasn’t got a manufacturers name on it then it could possibly be a substandard replica.

Know which size saddle is best. Below is a table detailing the basic size guide for the seat of the rider? However, trying the saddle on before a purchase if possible is still recommended.

The table below highlights the inch size of the saddle that is appropriate in relation to the treeless saddle size, and the relative ladies size conversion together with the male equivalent.  

Inch Size

Treeless Saddle Size

Ladies Size

Conversion (UK)

Mens size

Conversion (UK)

15"

N/A

N/A

N/A

16"

0

Size 10 and below

Size 34 and below

17"

1

Between 10 and 12

Between 34 and 38

18"

2

Between 10-13

Between 40 and 44

Fitting Guide and Horse Considerations

There are a few specifics to take into account when coming to buy a treeless saddle.  Follow these to make certain that the purchase is an efficient one and the ride, as well as the horse, is as comfortable as possible.

Remember to make sure the saddle provides adequate spine clearance. If you can’t fit a finger between the pommel (raised area at the front) of the saddle and the horse itself then it will possibly be discomforting for the horse.

Are the horses’ shoulders free from constant pressure? Some parts of the saddle may extend to more sensitive areas which the horse may not like.

Due to different materials being used, some treeless saddles are heavier than others. This may cause unnecessary pressure as well, so take this into account when coming to make a purchase.

There is an array of different leathers available at your disposal, from synthetic to expensive Italian types. They come in a host of colours as well, with black being the most popular. Less expensive leathers can be slippery so take this into account.

Try out the Port Lewis Impression Pad in conjunction with a saddle. The pad tests the pressure points that are being applied most strenuously on the horses back. Then adjust the treeless saddle accordingly if needed.

The pad of the saddle is something to consider. Pads for treeless saddle should be flatter along the spine of it as it is important to minimize mass in this area to protect the horses’ spine.

The girth is the piece of equipment needed to keep the saddle in place. Treeless saddles require longer girths to prevent them from hitting the elbows. Ensure the buckles of the girth aren't too low down when attached; they should only be 1 or 2 inches below the saddle flaps.

In regards to the stirrups, treeless saddles often have closed D rings for the stirrup leathers. Barnes Buckles should be used with treeless saddles.

If the saddle is moving to either side then there may be a problem with the balance of the girth or the stirrup level.

The option is there to buy a seat to compliment the treeless saddle, in order to provide extra comfort and a better riding position. The Heather Moffett range is a popular choice.

Buying Online

If buying online the best option is to search online market websites such as eBay as there is the opportunity to ask the seller a question. This way any buyer can get advice from a first-hand source and find out the specifics of the treeless saddle.

There could be the necessity to purchase accessories for the treeless saddle; eBay provides a healthy selection of pads, girths, stirrup leathers, stirrups, etc for buyers who want to purchase further equipment. Keep this in mind when coming to set a budget for your purchases. The cost of treeless saddles differs significantly depending on which type you would want. On average prices will fluctuate from around £50 up to near £1000. Taking advantage of eBay’s auction facility may mean buyers can find some treeless saddles for cheaper than a “buy it now” option.

There are a few safety aspects to consider though when using eBay. All users of the website need to read the item’s description carefully to check out the specifications of the saddle and any accessories it does/doesn’t come with. Click on the seller’s profile and view their feedback history to give you more confidence about the purchase. Again, feel free to ask them a question if unsure about anything. This could be a question related to the product, delivery, or anything else that would make the purchase easier to implement.

Popular brands of the treeless saddle include:

-  Barefoot

-  Torsion

-  Sensation

-  Bob Marshall

-  Freeform

-  Heather Moffett

-  Freemax

-  Dream

There are plenty of other brands available so be sure to check out the whole market.

Conclusion

If looking to buy a horse saddle for the first time, or want to make a change from an existing make, then treeless saddles are the best option in all likelihood. They are more flexible and have the potential to mould in with the shape of a horses’ back. The slender nature of them also allows riders to feel connected with the horse as your bones and muscles are closely together. This should allow for a smoother and more successful ride. However, this isn’t to say that all treeless saddles will be the right one, and it’s recommended to still research the market as best you can.

As well as the fitting benefits, treeless saddles can save money as they are usable with most kinds of horses. If there is more than one user then simply change the seat rather than buy a new saddle.

When buying on eBay remember to ask the seller as much information as you can to ensure a saddle that is the best fit for you; describe your physique and the build of the horse in detail to see if the seat will be suitable. Ask for their experience with the saddle and also if you’d need any accessories on top.

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