I am looking for imput on treeless or bareback saddles. I recently purchased a bareback pad but it keeps sliding. I ride western and have an easy keeper quarter horse. I ride 3 times a week simply hacking.

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Hi, I do have an EZ-Fit treeless saddle (http://ezfittreelesssaddles.com.)  It looks like a Western saddle without a horn.

I ride hunt seat so to me it is not a perfect saddle, but I desperately needed a saddle for a WIDE backed horse I ride and this treeless saddle successfully keeps the saddle off of the horse's spine, has structure, and so far it has not slip (including when I got hung up dismounting and I was hanging off on the side of the saddle until my riding teacher could help me--the saddle did not move.)

If you look under my blogs I have a few about my rides with this treeless saddle.  If you decide on one be sure to tell Eli to take his time and make sure he makes your saddle symmetrical--mine is slightly askew.  The horse does not mind that this saddle is not totally perfect and cheerfully strides forth.

This saddle is VERY adjustable. 

I've looked long and hard at saddles for a while. The reason to use a tree saddle is to protect the horse's back.
I put saddles into two categories:

Ones that are built based on two boards that run parallel to the horse's spine, joined by arches and the leather slung between them. e.g. western saddles, Mongolian saddles, Medieval saddles, military saddles.

Ones that are built on a single board, elevated above the horse's spine with four points that carry the weight. e.g. European/English saddles, jumping saddles, dressage saddles, endurance saddles.

'Treeless' saddles are, in effect, very thickly filled saddle pads. They are very comfortable to ride and are OK for very short periods of time, but do not spread the rider's weight very well at all. They are, historically, the earliest type of saddle that horse-cultures develop, such as the Scythians, and much, much later, independently, by the Lakota.

The purpose of the tree is to spread the weight of the rider across a large area of the horse's spine. Having all the rider's weight pressing down on one or two vertebra is not different from having a soft backpack with everything bunched up into a heavy ball. The weight presses against the spine which is bearable for a time, but only light weights and only for short time before it starts to cause damage.

3 short rides a week, i.e. less than an hour, not in succession and very easy riding could probably find a treeless saddle adequate. Otherwise, I'd say go with a tree saddle. I have used a Bates Cair panel saddle with an adjustable tree for the past 6 years, it is a very comfortable saddle for both me & my horse and fits to a variety of horses. (Bates is the high-end version of Wintec Synthetic saddles).

But the best advice would be to ask Joachim Schleese, who posts on this site.

A bareback pad or a treeless saddle which does not have adequate padding can put pressure points on a horse. However there are a number of horses (like mine) who are very difficult to fit for a treed saddle, but happily accept a good quality treeless and pad. I don't like bareback pads because if it slips when you are riding, Bad Things can happen, and they are often difficult to cinch down without being way too tight in the girth. A good treeless saddle is designed to accomodate various shapes and sizes of horses, or can be padded to work with High withers, barrel shapes, short backs or "sensitive" type horses (all of which would describe my horse. Longer rides are perfectly fine as long as the padding is correctly suited to the horses shape, and the rider's weight. Some of the better ones I have used are the Sensation, the Barefoot, The Bob Marshall, and the Ansur. All of these were better than any treed saddle I could find as far as comfort for horse and rider. They can often be found slightly discounted 2nd hand. The one I use now was in brand new condition but sold at half the new price. I usually ride from two to five hours several times a week (except in winter), up and down steep rocky trails (so I do use a breast collar). My horse has also been barefoot for eight years.

Marlene
Thank you for your response. I did try the bareback pad with cinche and you are totally correct it was slipping all over. Where did you get your saddle. My horse is barrel shape. I have looked on line and am have trouble finding a retail outlet I live in the gta

Sorry lost track and didn't check back for your response. I am lucky there is a Barefoot saddle seller within a few minutes drive of my home (I am in B.c.). But there should be someone out East who supplies, or they ship a demo to you, if you are buying new. But keep your eye out for a Second Hand one. for Barrel shape I like the Physio pad underneath because it is non-slip and I can add whatever shims I want (or none). I think the Arizona version of the Barefoot works for Barrelly horses, but that's just my preference. A dealer could probably tell you which might fit better for a barrell. I literally had a wine barrel set up in my basement for sizing and preparing saddles before I put them on him. he was difficult to saddle for some time. But he is good now, stands like a lamb. Which means he approves of the saddle and no longer fears saddle pain. I use a mohair string type western girth, it seems to work for my guy (did I mention he's picky?).

I noticed a few barefoot saddles on kijiji in the ontario region, but I don't know if they are close to you. Black Forest brand is very similar to Barefoot but usually a bit better priced.

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