Monday, December 18, 2017

Tree? What tree?

This is where the saddle hunt totally leaps off of the rails and runs wild and free across the tundra of New England.  I am getting a treeless saddle to demo.

I can hear the screams of anguish.

I've done the research, viewed the thermographs, read through more debates than any one person should.  Seriously, it's not good for my mental balance.  But when the dust settled and I was left with a challenging shaped horse in need of a western saddle, my desire for him to be comfortable won out over my desire to be traditional.  Yes, there are situations, combinations, and saddles where a treeless saddle is nothing more than a glorified bareback pad and shouldn't have stirrups on it.  Ever.  It's harmful and will leave your horse a mess.  Your entire body weight is slammed into their back at one point, sometimes only a few inches square.  There are also combinations, situations, and saddles where it's better than a treed saddle.

Troublesome pony back

I was looking at the DP vari-fit saddles when I noticed the word Startrekk at the top of the website.  Huh, I remember that name from my saddle research when I was playing with making Fiona an endurance horse.  I clicked on the name, hit the western link, and stopped dead.  That . . . looks like a totally normal saddle!

I would never guess that saddle is treeless.  It's pretty!  And I've sat in several DP saddles and like the quality of leather they use.  I refreshed my memory and the Startrekks stood out because they're German and they have a 'tree' made of layers of leather to give it stability, structure, weight distribution, and spine clearance.  The pommel is rigid and interchangeable.  There are panels underneath the saddle that can be rearranged to help level the saddle and keep it clear of the spine.  Yes, the stirrups still have a point of greater pressure, but I'm not getting this saddle to gallop cross country up off of his back or jump big fences.  I have a saddle with a tree for that.  I'm getting this to sit on my butt outside of some posting in warm up.  From everything I have found, the Startrekk saddles feel like a treed saddle due to the leather 'tree'.  It even has a twist.

While looking around, I spotted a new Startrekk Commander at a discount.  Lo and behold, the dealer is in Rhode Island.  Hey, that's practically around the corner!  Relatively speaking.  So emails have been bouncing back and forth all day with pictures of Theo.  Soon, soon I will have a demo to slap on mi papi's back.

It weighs less than 20 pounds.  It's genuinely pretty.  It's only 25.5" long.  The seat size is adjustable.  I'll get three pommels to try out to make sure I ride in the correct size.  Maybe?  Maybe this is the solution to my troublesome pony?  And it would be cheaper than the Cashel.

Even with my hip issues, I have no problem riding bareback.  I don't expect the twist to be an issue for me.  And used once/twice a week with limited posting?  I don't expect it to give him any trouble.

I'm not exactly a traditional western rider and my horse is far from a traditional western horse.  Time to think outside the box.


  1. Sometimes thinking outside the box is all you got. I hope it works out!

  2. We use treeless saddles for endurance riding. I think the good ones are just fine. My husband has done a 50 mile ride in his and people who win best condition at 100 mile rides are often doing so in treeless saddles.

  3. I was recommended to look at treeless by a saddle fitter when she saw my young horses back. Wide withers, propane tank barrel, and a shoulder that comes back quite a bit. I thought she was crazy and that I would be laughed out of the barn. But I did some research, and found a local(ish) Sensation dressage saddle to buy. I was pleasantly surprised by how it felt. It did feel wide, but a twist bolster helped. The biggest feel difference I find is that I don't get bounced up in a rising trot like a trees saddle does, so I have to actually engage my core (abs? What abs?) And because it is all soft there isn't really anything to brace against -makes you break that habit quickly!
    I like it so much that I ordered a new one with a short flap to fit my legs better. Hopefully Santa will bring it for Christmas.
    But the best endorsement is from my very opinionated mare - she has started to stand still at the mounting block which has been a multi-year battle.