What Is a Treeless Saddle?

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What Is a Treeless Saddle?

Saddles are traditionally made from a wooden frame known as the ‘tree’, and then built up with padding and then covered in leather. The tree is what gives the saddle its shape and support for the rider. The tree is two wooden strips that sit either side of the horse’s spine under the saddle. As saddles have evolved into new designs and materials, it is possible to get a saddle without the tree.

Treeless saddles are hugely popular for endurance horse riders due to the level of comfort a treeless saddle provides for the horse and rider. It has seen popularity rising over the last decade, with ever more becoming available on the internet to buy. This guide aims to show what a treeless saddle is, and how to buy one eBay with some helpful tips.

What Is a Treeless Saddle Made From?

Rather than using wood as a frame, a treeless saddle is made up from thick pads and foam to create the shape of the saddle and cushion the horse’s back. The pads can be made from panels of foam, leather, vinyl or fleece. Treeless saddle made from leather look traditional, and this is an option for rider who may be using a treeless saddle for competition. A good treeless saddle will have padding in the right areas for the horse’s back, in order to prevent any direct contact with the horse’s spine at all times.

Advantages and Disadvantages to a Treeless Saddle

There are many advantages to using a treeless saddle:

                      Advantages

                    Disadvantages

Closer contact with the horse, allowing the rider a better understanding of how the horse moves.

The horse can feel more from the rider, so a rider will need to be confident and have a balanced seat on the saddle.

Treeless saddles fit a wide range of horses

A treeless saddle may not fit some particular horses, specialist saddles with trees are sometimes the only solution to this.

Horses with unusual shaped withers and uneven shoulders can be fitted well with a treeless saddle.

The position of the rider is different compared to a saddle with a tree, as they may end up sitting a little wider than they are used to.

A treeless saddle will mould to the horse’s body over time as well to the rider’s body.

Treeless saddles may not suit a rider who is quite heavy as the saddle will need extra padding to prevent pressure on the horse’s spine and back.

Choosing the Right Treeless Saddle

Picking the right treeless saddle for the rider is vital as some treeless saddles change the rider’s sitting position. There are some factors to consider in order to narrow down the choice for a treeless saddle:

Rider Height

Ladies (dress size)

Men (waist size, inches)

Suggested saddle size

5’2

Below 6

Below 28

17

5’4

6-8

28-30

17/17.5

5’6

10-12

32-34

17.5

5’8

14-16

36-38

18

5’10

18-20

40-42

18.5

The weight of the rider-This is important as a rider who is too heavy may distort the shape of the saddle and put extra pressure on the horse, therefore putting the horse at risk of saddle sores.

What sort of activity- the activity the saddle is intended for will be vital to consider if the rider will be competing as some disciplines of horse riding will not allow treeless saddles.

The style of riding- some treeless saddle can change the position of the rider. Some brands will allow the rider to have a normal sitting position whereas some brands are designed to give the rider a ‘bareback’ style of riding.

Here is a rough guide line to suggest what saddle size is suitable for the rider, but the saddle size will also depend on the horse.

Buying Accessories for a Treeless Saddle

Treeless saddles may often come just as the saddle, and many top rated sellers on eBay will list just the saddle. Independent sellers may include extra pieces but at extra cost than buying the saddle on its down. A new rider will need to buy everything if the saddle will be their first, but an experienced horse rider may only have to buy the saddle. It is advisable to get the accessories in the same material if the treeless saddle is a synthetic type.

Here is an example of the range of accessories that can be bought for a treeless saddle.

  • Girths- treeless saddles need longer girths than a leather saddle, so it will need to be slightly longer as the girth secured very high up against the treeless saddle.
  • Stirrups- treeless saddles come with closed stirrups, but it is advisable to buy safety stirrups which are open at the side to prevent the rider being dragged by the horse.
  • Pads- treeless saddles may need some adjustment through protective pads, especially if the saddle does not have a gullet. It is vital to make sure the saddle does not rest on the horse’s spine at any point.

The knee rolls can be adjusted on the saddle so the rider can change their knee position. This is handy for jumping as the rider needs to have their legs higher than a normal riding position.

To find the right accessory for a treeless saddle, search for any of the items above in ‘Equestrian’ under ‘Sporting goods’.

Looking after a Treeless Saddle and Storing

A treeless saddle whether made of leather or synthetic material will need the same care as a traditionally made saddle. There is a huge range of storage options available on eBay, from standing saddle stands which hold one saddle, to stands that stack up when secured to a wall. To look at the wide range of saddle racks/stands available on eBay, search ‘saddle stand or rack’ under ‘Equestrian’ in ‘Sporting Goods’. 

Saddle soap and a few other items are needed to clean a saddle. Saddle soap and leather cleaner are easy to find on eBay by searching for ‘saddle soap’ or ‘saddle cleaner.’ Follow the instructions on the product to clean the saddle. Some products may stain the leather so it is worth testing the product on a hidden piece of leather on the saddle.

Synthetic saddles do not need cleaning in the same way as leather saddles, and this can be a factor when it comes to selecting a saddle.

Fitting a Treeless Saddle

A treeless saddle will need fitting in the same way as a traditional saddle with the exception that extra padding may be needed in order to make sure no parts touch the horse’s spine. When using a saddle blanket, a three quarter is suggested to be the best due to the nature of the fit with a treeless saddle.

A treeless saddle may not appear level at eye level, but try sitting on the saddle to test it. It may well be the case that the saddle is comfortable and even when the rider is in the seat.

Searching and Buying Different Types of Treeless saddles on eBay

To search the variety of treeless saddles available on eBay, just type in ‘Treeless Saddle under ‘Equestrian’ within the ‘Sporting Goods’ section. Treeless saddles come mainly in leather and synthetic materials. Both materials are suitable for long term riding and adjusting the fit to the horse. Some treeless saddles don’t have a gullet, and those without one will need a special pad to allow for support and making sure the saddle doesn’t touch on the horse’s spine.

To find a certain type of treeless saddle, such as a dressage saddle, the subtypes can narrow down the search to bring up only dressage saddles. The same is true for other types of saddles as well as the size and condition of the saddle.

Buying a used saddle is an option often under taken by new riders who wish to try a different style of saddle, as well as for experienced riders to try a new riding style by purchasing a treeless saddle. There are several points to consider when buying a used treeless saddle:

  • Is the condition of the item good?
  • How much use has it had?
  • How wide as the horse who wore the saddle?
  • Will the saddle need any repair work or extra parts buying for it?

By considering the above questions, a used saddle can be bought with confidence and assurance that the item is the right saddle for the horse and owner. Don’t hesitate to contact the seller about the item to find out the history of the saddle if it isn’t already detailed in the item’s description. Check if there are also accessories for the saddle that the seller has listed separately.

Conclusion

For an inexperienced rider in buying a treeless saddle it is best to research and consult the seller to find out what is exactly right for them and their horse. Check for returns on the item and see if the seller will allow the rider to test the saddle and if possible return it. If testing the item put a thin cover on the horse to prevent anything staining the underside of the saddle. eBay is also good for experienced riders who knows what brand of treeless saddle they want, and the measurements of the saddle.

The advantages of buying a treeless saddle on eBay is there is no need to travel to a specialist horse tack shop. The overheads of the seller will be much lower so the price online for an a treeless saddle is more reasonable. Be wary of saddles from abroad as they can be copies and won’t last very long with extensive use.

The buyer’s personal budget and preferences can be found easily and many treeless saddles can be bought more cheaply than in a store. eBay is the ideal place for a new horse owner to research the variety of leather and synthetic saddles, and experienced horse owners can track down the brands they prefer. The range of treeless saddles available on eBay is always changing, and a variety of payment options makes it easier to decide on the ideal best treeless saddle which allows the buyer to get the most pleasure from riding their horse.

 

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