Originally Posted by Country Woman
what is the difference between a treeless saddle vs one with a tree
And are they the same comfort
A saddle that has a tree (or frame if you use a Trooper or the old German Army saddles) will displace the weight of the rider across the area that tree makes contact with the horse back (and shoulders). Much like the frame of a back pack displaces the weight of the pack and it's contents so that it feels light and easier to carry. The tree help spread the weight out so that it's easier on the horse's back. Some of the endurance saddles and Troopers tend to cover the largest surface area so they would displace the most. Some Plantation styles and Western saddles are next. Other Plantation styles and the various "English" saddles have the less then the others. Although "English" is not a good term, because there are different "English" saddles for different disciplines of riding and some types will displace more than others.
Treeless has nothing that keeps the saddle actually off the spine and it displaces about as much as a pad. They'll have a heavier seat and made of more rigid material, but basically it's a bareback pad on steroids
I use a treeless saddle as a starter for getting the horse use to a saddle and I'll ride them for maybe 1/2 hour just to do some light training. But any serious riding I do will be with a tree or frame to protect the horse's back.
The advantage of treeless is that one size can work on several different size backs, so you don't have to get a perfect fit like a tree. My filly and mare will never be able to share the same saddle, because their withers are different and they're shapes are not the same. But I can use the treeless saddle I started my mare with on my filly when I get ready to start training her to take the saddle.
Both are useful for me. The amount of riding you do will help determine if treeless is good for you. If you just ride a short enough time each day a treeless might not matter. If you spend much time riding and like to ride long trails and spend hours riding then you'll probably need to get a saddle with a properly fitting tree.