Frequently Asked Questions?
Here you might find some of the answers to your questions, if not do not hesitate to call or email us.
What if you do a lot of rising trot or cantering standing in the stirrups?
The weight from the stirrups is spread along the length of the saddle through webbing and a leather panel. Consider factors such as your size, your horse's size, maturity and strength, what you want to do with your horse, and your riding style, to judge whether a treeless saddle is appropriate for you and your horse. And this last point applies to all types of saddle - always keep a keen eye on the condition of your horse's back, and check after every ride for signs of rubbing or soreness.
Check out the question on endurance for more info on this!
Which numnah do you recommend?
We supply two different numnahs. They are both made to fit perfectly on to the Treefree saddle using our unique gullet strap system. Numnah number one is the sheepswool custom numnah with foam pads which creates a deep channel for the spine and wither - I strongly recommend this option for most horses. Numnah number two is the Prolite numnah which provides a top quality but slightly thinner foam insert between the saddle and the horse. If your horse has a protruding spine or if you feel that it is important to have minimal contact with the spine then the wool channeled numnah is the one for you. The channeled numnah also provides extra thickness padding to help spread the weight on your horse's back. If you have a cob, an arab or a horse with a recessed spine then the Prolite numnah may be the one for you. Some people are getting on fine just using a polypad and some people aren't using a numnah at all (this option is not recommended at all by me).
Can you jump in a Treefree?
Yes, but they are not designed specifically for jumping - the stirrup bars are set further back than on conventional jumping and GP saddles.
Can you enter dressage competitions?
I'm not sure but I think there is a rule about the saddle needing to be 'of English style'. Check with your dressage organisation. We have a letter from one of our clients, from the Dressage Society saying that our saddle is acceptable.
Why do some people use a padded seat?
A few people find sitting on the Treefree a bit of a stretch. You are sitting on the horse, not a platform up above it. Using a padded seat just lifts you up a bit more and helps ease the stretch.
Can you use the Treefree for endurance?
Our saddles have done some longish rides. I'm not sure if any have been used for endurance competitions as such. Again, it is your responsibility to look after your horse's back. You need to take into account your size, your horse's size, strength and maturity, your riding style, and what work you are doing. Check your horse regularly, as you would with any saddle.
More and more as I gain experience with our saddles, I am reaching the conclusion that if you ride predominantly with heavy weight in your legs and feet, then a treed saddle may be better for your horse (assuming it fits of course). Treefree works best for those riders who predominantly put their weight onto the horse through their seat. I'm not saying that you can't do rising trot in our saddles, of course you can, but I have seen a couple of our saddles now that have come back from endurance riders after just one ride, and it is obvious to me from the dents and squashed leather panels under the stirrup leathers, that there has been huge weight and pressure put into the stirrups. On a treed saddle this pressure would be spread through the tree, but on a Treefree it centres on the stirup bar and I think that is potentially not so good for the horse. This concentration of pressure does get dispersed through the padding, but for me personally, I have to say that I would give it careful thought. It's kind of the opposite of what I am trying to do, which is keeping my legs relaxed and rising quietly from my thighs. I'm really not telling people how to ride here--I'm just saying take care to get the right tools for the job that you want to do.
How do I know if the girth is in the right place?
On some horses it just seems to all fall into place. On others it is not so straightforward. Some horses seem to have a natural girth groove not quite in the right place, which can sometimes lead to saddle movement. Some horses seem better with a 'humane' style girth which allows a slight change of angle. Again, where there is a will there is almost always a way. We are here to help as well, so feel free to ask if you have any problems.
I like the saddle but I can't do rising trot in it?
If you are used to knee rolls and a saddle seat that holds you in position you may get a bit lost when all this disappears On the other hand, if you are a bareback rider you will probably love it. If you have problems with your riding in a Treefree, you have to choose whether to carry on and eventually maybe gain what some people call 'an independent seat', or maybe come to the decision that the Treefree is not right for you right now.
Do they fit any horse?
In the last year I have found one horse that I considered totally unsuitable for a Treefree saddle (and any other saddle too!).
Her body was cone shaped and whatever saddle she wore went forward and that was that. With a crupper or breeching it may have been possible. With Treefree saddles they mostly just fit. Where they don't there is usually a way forward with a bit of thought. We can customise our saddles to your needs.
Can Treefree saddles prevent slipping?
If a horse has problems with saddle slipping then sometimes this also applies to the Treefree. Again, with thought this can almost always be overcome. Some horses are 'slippy' or shaped to encourage slipping. Having said this, on several occasions I have fitted Treefrees onto slippery horses and had no slip at all. Correctly fitted pommels can make a huge difference. We also now do a western style saddle with a front and back cinch which has proved to be very stable on some very difficult to fit horses.
How do I know if the pommel fits?
The pommel holds the saddle up off the withers. It also ensures that the front of the saddle fits the shape of your horse's back just behind the wither. You can remove the pommel and place it on your horse to see how well it fits. Again, we can make up 'the perfect pommel' for your horse if one of our three existing sizes is not suitable. Remember, on a Treefree the pommel is not a weight-bearing part of the saddle, but obviously a good fit is preferable.
Why stirrup straps?
Using leathers and a buckle causes a lump under the seat which some people find a problem. It depends on how you sit - some people are ok, some are not.