Originally Posted by DancingArabian View Post
Treeless saddles need to be fitted just like a treed saddle does. You're not assured of a sore backed horse from hard work in a treeless saddle. Just ask my gelding if you don't believe me. He's been ridden treeless almost exclusively for over two years and has never had a problem due to the saddle - not even with the cheapie eBay one.
If it says anything, I say almost exclusively because I have tried treed saddles on him - under the guidance of different professional saddle fitters. They always cause a negative reaction: pinned ears, reluctance to move forward, choppy striding, bucking, head tossing.
You can't give a blanket statement on what will always cause a sore back and what won't. The key to treeless is a correct for and correct support in padding. Just like with a treed saddle.
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We obviously have different meanings to concept of a working horse.
When was the last time you rode your gelding with a treesless saddle for 5 or more weeks, 20 or more miles a day with no more than 2 days off each week? Unless you actually work in the saddle (like working cattle was 35 years ago...and might still be), or do real long distance riding, you won't be testing what that saddle is like. If you do, you won't be doing it on treeless saddle for long before you horse is out with a sore back.
I've yet to meet or hear of anyone who's done it and didn't end up with a sore back (and before 5 weeks of that kind of riding). There is a reason why none of the Cav in history switched from saddles with trees to saddles without them. Just like there's a reason why people who've tried them for distance riding (we do fuss over the fit of our distance saddles and treeless saddles are light....weight is important when you ride distances) didn't embrace them after trying them (no fun having to hold up to give your horse time to recover from a sore back....not to mention having to find a well fitting tree to replace the treeless saddle that put you there).
Granted that most people never have and never will do any heavy riding for any lengthy periods of time. Those that do almost certainly represent the smallest % of todays riding population.
If you average a few miles a day and never more than a few days during the week you probably won't have an issue (I've seen people ride with poor fitting trees and not have real issues for what little riding they did, but that's not a endorsement to use an ill fitting saddle). As I said, I know of endurance riders who love them (they are light and it is a race), but they don't ride for weeks on end without the horse getting a significant break to recover They ride hard, but it's for a couple of days, then it's rest and recover (just like human endurance athletes). Of course even endurance riders who use them are in the minority. They'll never compete with a well fitted tree for spreading out the weight. The whole point is to spread out the weight, because that is what's easiest on the horse's back.
Otherwise most of us wouldn't be using saddles, but just be using pads with perhaps stirrups attached
. And while I know plenty of people who do that, I've even done it....who hasn't ridden around bareback before, but it's for short periods relatively (and my horses never "pinned ears, reluctance to move forward, choppy striding, bucking, head tossing" when I ride bareback.....so I guess it's the best way to ride?