Hondo, your facts are not facts. A bare western tree would take longer to hurt a horse than a bare English tree, but both are irrelevant since no one rides a horse in either a bare western or English tree.
Does this weight distribution look like the outline of a western tree?
No, and it is not even symmetrical because how the horse and rider interact with the saddle, while in motion, changes the reading. Which side of the back the horse is using most, how the rider sits (on crotch? On pockets? Leaning left, as I tend to do due to a long ago back injury?), how the rider moves with a horse - all of that plays a part.
As the Nikkels note: "(By the way, you will notice that there isnít totally even pressure under the saddle in any of these examples. The reason for that is that there isnít ever totally even pressure under a saddle. And the areas or pressure are constantly changing and shifting, even on a horse standing still, just due to their breathing. Whatís higher now is lower now Ė and in about that kind of time frame too. Thatís just the real world, which is why the pressure sensing equipment, while a great step forward in learning about how saddles work on horses, still has a lot of limitations when it comes to being practical for research purposesÖ)"
Notice in this one, the legs are a big part of the weight distribution - even with a western saddle: Center of pressure under a saddle
But a few things are obvious: Weight tends to be carried more to the front than rear, and in fact, the rear of a western saddle has very little weight on it. Since Bandit has a pretty flat back, I like to sit the saddle further back than most recommend. It is common, in looking at pressure pad readings, to see spikes near the front. That matches what I've felt with my hand slid under the saddle pad, and the muscles of the shoulder pushing back and getting pressure as they push underneath the front. But then, that isn't a constant pressure either.
Still, Bandit has plenty of shoulder and rides better - works more eagerly and with more oomph in his stride - when I position the saddle about 2" behind where most say to put it. But I don't know how anyone can look at a lot of pressure read-outs involving western saddles and conclude there is a problem with pressure on the loin, or pressure near the spine. One of the constants is pressure maps is the LACK of pressure in either area with a western saddle.
The idea that an English saddle is superior due to flocking is pretty far-fetched. English saddles have internal flocking, adjustable by a fitter. Western saddles have external 'flocking' - the saddle pad - which can be changed easily by any rider. The saddle tree has padding either way. Just one is internal and one is external. And if I had to choose between them, I like the external flocking that I can swap out in seconds, replace, adjust with a folded towel, etc.
There are good reasons to prefer an English saddle, but their flocking isn't one of them. They have a narrower twist, it is easier to feel the motion of the muscles, and years ago, riding Mia like this, the only thing between me and my horse was often my jeans, which often ended a ride with our mixed sweat soaking them:
Years ago, maura - an HF moderator I deeply respected and sorely miss - said she felt more secure in a jump saddle than a western saddle. I can understand that, then and now.
"Fact: The western and military saddle was not designed to fit "A" horse. It was designed to be pulled off a dead horse and thrown upon the nearest horse available.
No. I've read far too many manuals and autobiographies of cavalrymen and cowboys to swallow that argument. The cavalry tried to buy horses of a certain size and shape. But both the cavalry and cowboys understood how to adjust saddle blankets to compensate, and both took seriously the need to keep their horses functional. The standard cavalry field load for a horse was 250 lbs, and they routinely rode them 20-30 miles a day. In war, often enough covering 250 miles in under a week. And when done with good husbandry, it worked.
"He will get the best I am able to give and it will NOT be an off the shelf western saddle with a compromised fit.
Well, I had a semi-custom saddle made, so I'm not exactly in the "just throw something on their back and let them suffer" camp. But our off-the-shelf Abetta with semi-quarter horse bars actually fits my horses well.
And when I run, or hike, my shoes are not custom shoes. Pretty much any 8D men's shoe will fit me close enough, once broken in. I always have a callous on the side of my big toes, so I suppose none of them have fit me perfectly...but good enough.
At some point, reality needs to be looked at. Lots of horses have been ridden lots of miles with jump saddles or dressage saddles, without harm. Lots of western horses have been ridden very large numbers of miles, with big guys and a load of other gear on them, without harm. And, of course, I can put the wrong saddle on Bandit tomorrow and have him get irritable fast. Put Cowboy's saddle on about 2 inches too far forward, and he'll start bucking when you mount. Slide the saddle back, and he's carried me willingly on 3 hour rides - and he's a 13.0 hand pony!
And Trooper still has the spots he got in a few months on a ranch in Colorado:
I frequently ride with one of these in my rear pocket (closed, of course). The hoof pick knife is a great tool to ride with:
That would be pretty painful if I rode my western saddle the way a lot of people (including the instructor I had) said - on my pockets. But since I don't, I don't even notice them. It is one of the uncounted variables in riding. How steep is the cantle? How wide the twist? As it changes how the rider rides, it affects weight distribution. Do you put weight in the stirrups, or not? Do you lean? Do you post? When catering, are you steady in the saddle or scooping (as some people teach to do)?
Do whatever you want with Hondo, but I see no evidence that every horse needs a custom built saddle - or is ridden by an uncaring rider, otherwise.
BTW - a local Border Patrol unit was having problems with their horses. They called a person I know to review things. She walked in, and one of the first things she found was that saddles were assigned to RIDERS, not HORSES. She had them assign the HORSES individual saddles, and the problems went away overnight.