Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Canberra Australia
The best way it to lift up one of the seat jokies and have a look at the tree where the stirrup leather goes over the bar. If you know what you are looking at you can see straight away. I have a suspicion that most cheaper end saddles these days will have a synthetic tree of some sort, I think stuff called raylide or something like that is popular these days. The best materials for a tree are wood wrapped with rawhide. Fibreglass anywhere on the tree has its downside in that even in a western saddle where it looks quite rigid, they are, or should at least, be designed and built to flex a substantial amount. Fibreglass doesn’t flex as well as rawhide, so even on a tree made of wood but wrapped in fibreglass it won’t be as good as it should be. Worse than that though are trees made entirely of fibreglass, they have the down side of being far too rigid and as they deteriorate with age, as they do, they loose the ability to hold all the screws and nails that are used to build a saddle. For example the seat in a saddle is made of ground leather, and can often have a thin steel plate to give long term stability, these are glued into place and tacked onto the tree with nails, also many parts of the skirts are anchored on with screws, over time, on a fibreglass tree these will fall out and you can't put them back in as the fibreglass around them has crumbled. Wood and rawhide is always the best tree material.