I am seriously considering purchasing a treeless saddle and would like to hear from others on their views and experiences regarding them. I have heard that some styles/makes slip easily (especially if the horse spooks), some have more security for the rider, etc. Thanks for your input!

I would like to thank everyone who has replied and to say your comments have been of great assistance in my search!

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I am 41 year old amateur dressage rider and family physician. I have ridden many different horses in different saddles over the years. In the effort to help my 12 year old not "forward thinking" hanoverian I bought and rode in a treeless saddle last year. It certainly felt like sitting on a cushy couch, and my horse seemed fine in it - I don't think he was better, but I thought I was helping him. I did much research prior to the purchase, and bought a model with panel and a gullet much like a traditional saddle. At about the time of that purchase, I watched the lecture "Saddle fit for life" by Jochen Schleese given at the National dressage symposium. It made sense, but I could not buy another saddle then. The more educated I became I realized that no matter how good the treeless saddle, you sill end up sitting on parts of your horse that should not bear weight. I was finally priviledged to attend a Schleese fitting. Jochen has made saddle fitting into a science and his process is clearly anatomically correct. He fit my horse with one of his saddles at my request and, WoW what a difference. The difference was instant and obvious to everyone there. As my horse's muscling has changed, the fit has changed and the old lack of forwardness showed up. Adjustment by Jochen as recommended and we are moving again! No matter what saddle you buy, I strongly urge you to look at as many videos on the Schleese method of fitting and get to a clinic or fitting nearby. I am not affiliated with them, although I would be honored to be. I now feel sad when I see other horses with ill fitting saddles and owners who are completely unaware- as I was not long ago. Our horses bear much discomfort for us before they complain. I am not against treeless saddles. However, I absolutely believe that horses shoud bear weight in specific areas only, and no matter what the saddle, Jochen's method will tell you if the fit is right. He has dressage, jumping, and trail models and will teach his method, then look at any saddle with you, and anyone you wish to bring. I hope that helps.
With some treeless saddles you have to be careful when you mount as it will not support your weight. Other times the conformation of your horse will affect the stability of your treeless saddle. Treeless saddles do best with a horse with a decent amount of withers and an already strong, straight back. The back conformation must be uphill to the withers with no dips. If there are any dips in the back then this causes the weight to go on a place that is not meant to carry weight (the loins).
Yes, I have done the Schleese thing and it did not work for me. I ended up having multiple problems with the fit (caused my horse to go lame in front) and the saddle itelf when the stirrup bars just fell off while I was hacking.
Mary Wanless has an excellent book with a chapter on saddle fit in it: "For the Good of the Horse".
For myself I ended up with a Balance saddle: www.balanceinternational.com
My Balance saddle is the most comfortable for my horse and I both in all my over 30 years of riding.
Becky I forgot to mention that Jochen was invited and now has a blog on this website. Best Wishes!
Hi, Becky:

My experiences with treeless saddles is pretty much that when you most need to depend on them they don't do the job. They slide around and aren't very stable, and if you've tried wearing shoes that fit like that you know how irritating they are. I have seen a lot of fads come and go with saddles (particularly dressage saddles), and I have to say that I'm still a fan of the tried and true. I have 2 custom made dressage saddles (made by a saddler who worked for Schleese for years), they cost me no more than any good quality off-the-rack dressage saddle (often less), they fit me and my horses, and we are all comfortable. The saddler comes every year to make adjustments and re-flock them when necessary, and they just keep on working for me.

I have had a number of clients with treeless saddles and have nothing good to say about them. They may feel like sitting on the couch to the rider, but then one doesn't have to communicate through the couch! I want a solid and connected and quiet feeling for myself and my horse - I don't want to feel like we're both wearing sheepskin slippers (try riding aerobics in those and you'll know what the drawbacks are with treeless saddles).
Becky
I manufacture treeless saddles and that is a common concern of slipping I recommend a neoprene pad and a girth. Something with panels often help. If you are interested in trying out a treeless I offer a free trial offer, you can contact me through my website www.horselife.ca I recently posted a blog about why to try treeless you can read more by visiting my web site lots of benefits and features are listed there.
Thanks

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