Questions about Treeless Saddles - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 02-18-2020, 08:02 AM Thread Starter
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Questions about Treeless Saddles

I still have one more saddle to try, but Iím starting to think Iíd better start asking questions about treeless saddles, just in case. There was a lot of good information in the thread I posted about Pony being impossible to fit, but some of it led to more questions on my part.

Please feel free to answer any of these questions!

1. In terms of feel, is a treeless saddle about halfway between a bareback pad and a traditional saddle? Or closer to a bareback pad?
2. I see that some people use stirrups with treeless saddles, but at the same time some of the websites Iíve looked at seem to discourage it. And it seems like you couldnít use the stirrups to ground mount your horse? Is it even safe to use stirrups with a treeless saddle?
3. Iím never going to be a show jumper, but I like to go over very low jumps. Assuming the saddle had stirrups, could I jump in a treeless saddle? Iím just wondering how much the stirrups can do in terms of supporting my weight. Will putting my weight in the stirrups result in pressure points?
4. Along those lines, will I be able to post the trot in one? I guess what Iím asking is how easy it will be to get off Ponyís back in a treeless saddle.
5. Itís not like Pony has any withers to hold a traditional saddle in place, but still, I have to wonder: without a tree, doesnít a treeless saddle slip around more?
6. I keep reading that I need special pads with a treeless? Is this the case with all treeless saddles? Why do I need a special pad? Why wouldnít the saddle just have whatever padding it needed already? Or is this just some treeless saddles?
7. I am also reading about changeable seats, which really confuses me. Do all treeless saddles have changeable seats, or just some? Whatís the purpose of a changeable seat?
8. How worried should I be about pressure points? I am not a heavy person (Iím about 115 pounds). Pony seems to prefer being ridden bareback to any of the saddles Iíve ridden him in, so I have to think that the treeless saddle wouldnít bother him, but maybe Iím wrong?
9. Do treeless saddles come in sizes, like traditional saddles, or are they OSFA?
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post #2 of 21 Old 02-18-2020, 08:21 AM
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My experiences:

The yard I rode at lot always rode their horses to and from the fields (20min hack). They used treeless saddles for these commutes across multiple horses.

- stirrups were NEVER used to ground mount. It was strictly forbidden. You either vaulted or used a step-up. Some treeless distribute weight better than others but its my understanding that they will always cause pressure points if overused over time. To jump you have to invest in very good brands/custom fit. But I mean to pop over a cross rail every now and depending on the weight/skill on the rider... If you end up slamming all your weight into your stirrups on a cheapo treeless with bad distribution as you land it can only take one incident to hurt/risk the horse blowing up. I would be more fearful of that myself.

- stirrups were only ever used for "security" (plus not allowed to go without stirrups when out in public here). No posting or jumping was allowed.

- at riding yard 1 and current yard PLENTY of the ponies use treeless. At yard 1 however if they are jumping they will switch to a normal saddle. Only one of the ponies has a treeless round the clock and does everything in it even posting. But he's for advanced riders.

- one lady I knew had a very round horse and always rode in a cheapo treeless. She cut the stirrups off. She was resigned to that life lmao! And according to her slippage is very real but her horse would do a shoulder duck spook.

- lastly I've seen ladies go hacking (private property) and schooling just using a numnah and NO GIRTH!!! I remember someone on here (Qtrbel I think?) telling me as well if you're glued properly and in tune with the horse you wont slide off but that aint my experience :P

- plenty brands of treeless just shop around. Get a cheapo and avoid using stirrups for posting/jumping and see how it goes IMO. You'd at least be more secure than bareback for now xD


edit: wanna swap horses for a bit? :P I always wanted to ride bareback but my mare has prominent spine that digs in :< :< Id like some time on a safe mutton!
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post #3 of 21 Old 02-18-2020, 08:33 AM Thread Starter
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@Kalraii hah, you think that, but you haven't experienced having your legs pried apart the whole time you ride. I think I'm going to become bowlegged. You also have to have a really good seat, because your legs aren't able to offer as much support, seeing as how they naturally tend to stick straight out because he's so round (think Thelwell cartoon).

We bought this bareback pad for Moonshine, who has a prominent spine:

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

It's the one pictured. It's English, not western. The listing is kind of messed up, but the one that is pictured is the one I got. It is a wonderful pad: cushioned and plush on top, grippy on the bottom, with lots of padding in between. I really recommend it. I am actually using it on Pony now, not because I need the padding, but because I thought it might be nicer for him to not have my bony butt digging into his muscles.

It's funny, he's so cushy and soft that when I rode him in a saddle the other day, I just kept thinking about how hard the darn seat was, compared to him. He's literally like an overstuffed little sofa.

Anyway, thank you for your post, that's a lot of useful information. If you ever come to Texas and want to ride a fat pony bareback, just let me know!
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post #4 of 21 Old 02-18-2020, 08:45 AM
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I wrote extensively on your other thread, so won't repeat.

Quality treeless saddles have stirrups, can be mounted from the ground, and do not harm a horse's back.

Most riders can use a regular pad if the treeless saddle (ex Barefoot) has a vertebra protection system (aka soft "tree") if the rider is under 200 pounds. Heavier riders or longer distances should use a treeless pad. Personally I use treeless pads even with my treed saddles! They are NICE and cushiony.

Many, many endurance riders use treeless, for rides up to 100 miles in 24 hours. They ride at all three gaits, with no issues. Winners of the Tevis (one can look up these records) have ridden treeless multiple times.

Would not advise getting a cheap, no name treeless as they are junk.

@phantomhorse13 rode in a treeless saddle during an endurance ride WITHOUT a girth! About 20 miles like that! Yes, she had stirrups on it, how else could she post!

Small jumps are fine with a treeless, but wouldn't try large fences with them.

I ride in the mountains, so use a breast collar, but no crupper as my RMHA gelding doesn't like them (I don't like them either). So far, for the last 6 years, I haven't had any problem with saddle slipping, except the one time my girth was too loose.

Of course treeless saddles need to be fitted to the horse, and rider, but they are much more forgiving and adjustable.

Comfort? Oh my treeless saddles are so much more comfortable that I bring my own saddle when I ride other peoples' horses! I recently purchased a new horse, and carried my own treeless saddle around to do trial rides on horses.

EVERY horse I have ever ridden in my treeless saddle has moved much better, with longer strides and looser shoulder. They love them!


That's all I have to say on the subject.
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Last edited by AnitaAnne; 02-18-2020 at 08:53 AM.
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post #5 of 21 Old 02-18-2020, 08:51 AM
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The answer to your questions in many cases is 'it depends on the specific saddle.' Just like treed saddles, there is a lot of variety to style of treeless. And just like treed saddles, there is a pretty wide variety of quality (or lack thereof).


I don't think any treeless saddle I have ridden in felt much like a bareback pad, but that really depends on the saddle's structure.

Every treeless model I have ridden in had stirrups and I used them. No issues with posting or two point. I generally use a mounting block but have mounted from the ground when there was no other choice. How much the saddle rolls depends on the horse's confo and your mounting style.

Pressure points where the stirrups attach can be an issue depending on the saddle's construction.

How much roll the saddle has depends on the horse's confo, how stable you are as a rider, and to some extent the pad you use.

Most treeless saddles need a special pad to maintain a channel down the spine. There are some newer models that have panels or other modifications to allow for this without necessarily needing a special pad.

Most treeless saddles do not have changeable seats - that is something Freeform started (so wouldn't be surprised if all the knock offs also offer it). Changing the seat allows you to decide what works best for you in terms of seat depth, etc. Could be nice if you ride dressage one day and want to jump the next.

Some treeless come in sizes, some have different size seat options and some are OSFA.


As @AnitaAnne mentioned, I finished the last 18 miles of an endurance ride with no girth on my treeless saddle at all. So while its possible, I would certainly recommend a girth!!


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post #6 of 21 Old 02-18-2020, 09:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ACinATX View Post
1. In terms of feel, is a treeless saddle about halfway between a bareback pad and a traditional saddle? Or closer to a bareback pad?
A quality treeless saddle feels very little like a bareback pad. Especially ones like the Ghost treeless, which have an actual twist to the seat so you sit narrower.

You can post and two point as I am doing here.

Without the solid tree there is a slightly bouncier feel to posting, but you can rise out of the saddle easily.


This is in contrast to the "treeless" which are cheap, glorified bareback pads.
Here I am riding in a "treeless" which although it has stirrups they could never be used for mounting and it will slide to one side (notice the breast collar for safety). The underside is flat. Hopefully you can notice the lack of structure. These are the ones people say it is unsafe to use stirrups with, because you could get the weight in one stirrup and pull the pad over.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ACinATX View Post
5. Itís not like Pony has any withers to hold a traditional saddle in place, but still, I have to wonder: without a tree, doesnít a treeless saddle slip around more?
6. I keep reading that I need special pads with a treeless? Is this the case with all treeless saddles? Why do I need a special pad? Why wouldnít the saddle just have whatever padding it needed already? Or is this just some treeless saddles?
To see if you need a treeless pad, what you do is check to see if you can pull a lead rope through the channel of the saddle when you are on the horse. If you can do so easily, there is spinal clearance and you don't need a pad. It is doubtful you would need one on a real treeless with a channel. Especially not on a round horse. A person would need one if they were heavy enough to squash the center of the channel down onto the spine, or if the horse's spine protruded high off the back into the channel.


Treeless saddles are not one size fits all. That's the main reason why they have the changeable seats, because you can extend the seat to make the base fit a larger person.

I have not had any issues with pressure points, because I make sure the saddle clears the spine. The structure of a quality treeless will not cause issues even if you post or two point extensively like I do.

Some things I have noted:
They are as secure as a saddle if a horse bucks or spooks, and I have stayed on through some crazy moves.

One way they feel more like a bareback pad is that they don't "clamp down" on a horse's body so for example if a strong horse is galloping and pulling, you do not have as much support - the treeless will want to give toward the horse slightly, which means your core strength feels a little less powerful for the horse. I did not notice this effect except for on a strong horse when going very fast. My solution was to use a little more leverage with her bit.

When I used too much padding (a thick treeless pad, thinking it would be kinder), on my round horse it did cause the saddle to be less stable and want to slip a little to the side. It also made my legs sit wide, which made me less balanced. I weight 125 lbs so I just used regular english pads under my Ghost saddles.

They are not like a bareback pad. On a bareback pad I sit wide and my legs get tired from squeezing and trying to stabilize at faster gaits. Treeless have enough structure to allow you to ride much longer without using too much muscle strength.
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post #7 of 21 Old 02-18-2020, 09:50 AM
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1. In terms of feel, is a treeless saddle about halfway between a bareback pad and a traditional saddle? Or closer to a bareback pad?

Depends on the saddle. Some of the more high-end saddles and the way they're put together can give you a much more 'traditional' feel of a treed saddle. eBay knock offs or the Cashel soft saddles are more like a bareback pad.Barefoots are definitely "in-between" (but it's been years since I've ridden in one, so your mileage may vary). If you're trying to look at a more traditional feel to a saddle (i.e. twist, etc.) then you'd have to be looking at saddles like Freeform or Sensation (or maybe Bob Marshall ... which I rode on once in my life at a Haflinger farm in Kentucky and I've never been in that type of saddle again so can't really give much of an opinion on that)

2. I see that some people use stirrups with treeless saddles, but at the same time some of the websites Iíve looked at seem to discourage it. And it seems like you couldnít use the stirrups to ground mount your horse? Is it even safe to use stirrups with a treeless saddle?

As @AnitaAnne and @phantomhorse13 said, you totally can use stirrups with treeless saddles. I use stirrups with treeless saddles, and I could mount from the ground in my Sensation treeless (haven't tried with with the Freeform yet). In my Barefoot, I could mount from the ground, but it was harder because the stirrup panel was sewn into the saddle itself, although that's since changed and the last Barefoot rep I talked to says the plate is moveable now. I don't often mount from the ground though, even in a treed saddle. I try to use whatever I can find (mounting block, log, stump ... that little step stool I keep in my trailer) because it's easier on my knee if I mount from some height.

3. Iím never going to be a show jumper, but I like to go over very low jumps. Assuming the saddle had stirrups, could I jump in a treeless saddle? Iím just wondering how much the stirrups can do in terms of supporting my weight. Will putting my weight in the stirrups result in pressure points?

Some brands of saddles are going to be more geared towards jumping than others, and it will depend on the models they make.

4. Along those lines, will I be able to post the trot in one? I guess what Iím asking is how easy it will be to get off Ponyís back in a treeless saddle.

Suuuuuuuuure. I post the trot alll the time. I rarely sit the trot in any saddle because my first horse was a TB with a choppy trot (gorgeous canter though) and I just learned to post every time out of habit. Posting isn't throwing yourself out of the saddle (seen way too many people do that) but letting the horse's motion carry you, and I actually find I have an easier time of that in a treeless saddle.


5. Itís not like Pony has any withers to hold a traditional saddle in place, but still, I have to wonder: without a tree, doesnít a treeless saddle slip around more?

I've never had trouble with saddle slip. Quality pad, and a breastcollar keeps the thing pretty secure. I like having a wide mohair girth too, because it's a good anchor on the bottom side.Haven't had to use a crupper much, if at all, and that as with a treed saddle. Never used one for any of my treeless.


6. I keep reading that I need special pads with a treeless? Is this the case with all treeless saddles? Why do I need a special pad? Why wouldnít the saddle just have whatever padding it needed already? Or is this just some treeless saddles?

I'd invest in a quality pad, just to have it. I know I've read that with some brands of saddles you can use regular pads, but a good pad with foam inserts and a spine channel is always a good investment for a treeless saddle. Freeform has these removable panels which are probably next on my saddle upgrade bucket list, but I'd still use a good pad like a Skito or an Equipedic. That being said, I know people who use Skito and Equipedics on their treed saddles because they're just that good.


7. I am also reading about changeable seats, which really confuses me. Do all treeless saddles have changeable seats, or just some? Whatís the purpose of a changeable seat?

As was pointed out, it's really a Freeform thing, across all their models. The whole seat comes off and you can swap it for a smaller one, for instance, so someone else could use the same saddle. Or a different style. Right now, my Freeform has a ClassicX seat, so there's itty bitty poleys on the pommel. Eventually, I want to get a ultimate trail seat since it's got this awesome cantle, and would be nice for longer more technical rides.
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post #8 of 21 Old 02-18-2020, 09:52 AM
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subbing! This is interesting reading material
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post #9 of 21 Old 02-18-2020, 10:02 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, this is all great. Definitely lots of information here.

Good to know that the point of the pads is for spinal clearance. Some of you have seen pictures of Pony. Spinal clearance may not be a concern for him. At least with his current body shape.
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post #10 of 21 Old 02-18-2020, 12:26 PM
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What a beautiful butt! I actually bought the same bareback pad as you... it still bridged and although I tried breaking it in but it cut so badly that I couldn't even keep my finger under the seam by the wither for even a minute... alas I ended up selling it even though I really really loved it :< I'm thinking I might just end up altering one. She's 17hh so while not fat defo a large girl so I know that feeling. I end up sitting on her like a peg on a washing line to avoid her spine haha (NOT safe at alllllllll). Luckily I got a well muscled bottom to offset any other pain. I was very fortunate in regards to saddles BUT my pain was in finding bridles. Find one and hold it tight!
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