If you ever get the chance to visit Hilary Clayton's lab at MSU jump at the chance. It's a fascinating place!
I have been on both sides of this story.
I had a Connemara who loved his treeless dressage and jumping saddles. He went beautifully and his big wide round back finally had a perfect fit. I thought all my saddle fitting problems were over forever!!
Then my Connemara X QH said "Not so fast sweetie, and proceeded to demonstrate her unhappiness with the miracle tack in so very many ways, to the point where she would arch and flare whenever she saw it coming. I eventually ended up getting her a nice German made treed trail saddle, and she became her sweet, carefree self once again. Lesson learned.. "one saddle fits all' is a myth
They don't talk , but they never lie...
Although it would be ideal if finances never entered the issue of saddle fit, they are a fact of life for most horse riders. The best treeless saddle and quality pad cost half what the best treed saddle cost that also fit my horse, and it was a lot harder to find. For riders who have spent far too much buying and rejecting saddles, this can be a pretty expensive venture. Custom fits don't always work out perfectly. Witness the large number of treed saddles for sale, "ridden in only a few times", "my horse outgrew it". An ordinary idiot like myself can fit and pad a treeless saddle, and change it if my horse changed, and my guy has morphed a great deal since I got him. Much more difficult and expensive process with treed saddles.
It's encouraging to see research being done on this important topic. And that Dr. Clayton recognizes that different kinds of treeless saddles need to be included in the comparison. If this test was done on one particular treeless saddle, it should not be posted as representing treeless saddles in general. There is a huge range of treeless saddles being used, and just as important the type of padding used with them, which varies even more that the saddles themselves. Another point to consider is that, under a treeless saddle it is possible that some horses (mine being one) moves more freely and sometimes more vigorously than under some traditional saddles. So higher forces may be generated, and also really effective underpads are essential. Good choice of horse for testing, those "Springy Arabs" are an interesting ride for sure. Thanks for sharing the study results.
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