Treeless saddles are all the craze nowadays, but are they worth the switch?
First off, what are treeless saddles? A treeless saddle is a horse saddle which has been built without the internal solid structure known as a tree. This tree which is commonly made of wood, fiberglass, metal, or plastic, fits the leather of the rider’s seat to the padding which rests on the horse’s back.
Treeless saddles are often used because they are a lighter alternative and are easier to fit onto any horse’s back. They are perfect for horses which are hard to fit, due to having wide backs or uneven shoulders.
Treeless saddles are also not as expensive as a treed saddle. This certainly helps for those who are not looking to spend a lot of money.
Some riders choose them because they prefer to sit closer to their horse and prefer to move with the horse’s motion. However, due to this reason there is also the issue of the riders’ weight putting pressure on the horse’s spine. Treeless saddles don’t dissipate the rider’s weight evenly, keeping it all central, unfortunately this can put tremendous strain on your horse.
Both treeless and treed saddles can create pressure points on the horses back. To reduce pain for your horse, choose a well-designed saddle of either type that distributes the weight evenly and ensure they are fitted correctly. An ill fit, regardless of the saddle can harm your horse.
Treed saddles distribute the rider’s weight better via a deeper channel which prevents the rider from touching the wither and they have a larger surface area, spreading the weight evenly across the horse’s back.
Treeless also may not be as secure as a traditional treed saddle as it doesn’t have the tree to help stabilize the rider’s weight, the risk being the saddle could roll, with the rider aboard. A way to help reduce this possibility is by using a breastplate to keep it in place.
There is not enough evidence or research and haven’t been enough scientific studies to suggest that a treeless saddle is better than a treed saddle. To make your decision you need to factor in your personal needs, how much weight will the horse be carrying, how long and often do you ride, and how hard do you push your horse? The higher these answers are, the more you should be considering a treed saddle.
Each horse and their rider are different, what works for one may not work for another. Trial and error are going to be your best bet if you still aren’t sure. Practice with both, to see what works for you, how is your horse reacting, are you comfortable?
There are many things to consider before making your choice, but in the end the decision is yours and you need to choose what will best suit you and your horse.