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All About Treeless Saddles

Gandalf Freemax Italian Treeless Saddle English Model
Original Italian made freemax treeless western saddle

Treeless Saddle Types and Designs

Sensation Treeless Saddle
Freeform Treeless Saddle
Showing Examples of Soft Saddles with the Sensation Treeless Saddle Made In Canada and The Freeform Treeless Saddle Made In Italy. 

Type 1- Soft Saddles With No Hard Parts:-see above for examples.

BENEFITS: These saddles tend to be a type of saddle that is halfway between a bareback pad, that can be used with stirrups and a full saddle. They include excellent brands such as the Sensation and Freeform Saddles as shown above, which are handmade by expert saddlers with ethical working conditions in Canada and Italy. These types of treeless saddles are often made with innovative layers of protective memory foam and other protective types of padding, making up the inside of the main body of the saddle itself. They are designed to offer protection and comfort to your horse, as well as have increased flexibility to allow more freedom of the shoulders and fewer restrictions across the back. The materials and the makeup of these types of saddles allow for close contact that assists riders to improve balance by being able to feel the horse better, so you can be in tune with the horse's body more. They can often be customised by moving the stirrup leather locators and/or pommel and/or cantle to suit each rider. Soft Saddle Systems are often lightweight at around 4-6kg and are the most flexible of all of the treeless saddle types, being able to fit a wider variety of different horse shapes, making them ideal to use with multiple horses or those previously suffering from saddle fitting issues. This is due to not having any framing inside them such as wooden pommels, flexi trees or fibreglass inserts, all of which can restrict movement. Quality is everything with this design and looking for a saddle manufacturer that encourages the pairing of a correct treeless saddle pad that can raise the saddle from your horse's spine by the use of correct and protective shims is what we would encourage.

PITFALLS: avoid buying cheap Indian-made copies of these saddles, using inferior materials which can be made in sweatshops, where workers are not paid a living wage and often do not have ethical working conditions. Cheap saddle copies may look the same in a photo as your preferred brands or types but they are often poorly made without any research or development into the horse's physiology and we have seen too many horror stories involving copies hurting horses and riders, so we would recommend being wary and avoiding them. Some models have weight restrictions for riders so it is best to check prior to purchase. If in doubt we recommend asking where the saddle is both designed as well as made to be sure. 

DIFFERENCES TO BE AWARE OF WHEN USING A SOFT TREELESS SADDLE: Using a mounting block is often required. Be prepared for your horse to be more forward-moving due to the freedom provided by this design of saddle. Allow to girth up your saddle in 3 stages to avoid slippage, with a little walk around in between each stage to allow the saddle to settle and shape onto the horse's individual back shape. It is critical to use a correct treeless saddle pad with this saddle type with shims to keep the saddle off the spine at all times and to avoid slippage and to protect your horse's back. 
Barefoot Treeless Saddle Fibre Glass Inserts
Edix Treeless Saddle
torsion treeless saddle
Showing Examples of Zip Out Pommel Insert Types of Treeless Saddles with the Barefoot Treeless Saddle, Edix Treeless Saddle and Torsion Treeless Saddles. 

Type 2-Zip Out Inserts Treeless Saddle Models:-see above for examples

BENEFITS: This type of saddle was one of the early pioneering treeless saddles styles that kick-started the treeless saddle trend. They became popular in the mainstream for riders in the late 1990s and include brands such as the Torsion and Barefoot Treeless Saddles, amongst many other similar off-shoots.  They all look fairly similar and tend to have a zip-out pommel insert at the front of the saddle as shown in the middle photo above. This helps to further adapt and customise the saddle to allow a fit for a wider range of horses as well as offers good wither clearance. It also provides extra stability for the rider to prevent the saddle from tipping forward. 

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