Endurance Riders

Endurance and Long Distance Equine Disciplines

Newbie needing help choosing a saddle. Any advice is much appreciated! Thank you! :)

Hi Everyone!

I am new to this sport, and in need of making a saddle investment soon. I have two mares that I will be riding, and am hoping to find a saddle that can be used interchangeably on both of them. (Mare #1 is a 14.2 H, gaited, KY Mtn/Arab cross, with a short back and higher than average withers. Mare #2 is a 14.1 H, stout, Mustang with decent withers and a short back. Both are currently out of shape and potbellied after a year off at pasture while I dealt with chronic illness.)

I am currently leaning toward either a FreeFrom EnduroX or a Specialized Eurolight. Is there anyone out there with experience with these two saddles that can give me some feedback as to what they like and don't like about them? 

I have heard very mixed reviews about Treeless saddles and whether they are or are not good for a horses back, and I am VERY confused. 

I had previously been using the Abetta Endurance Saddles (one Arab tree, one regular tree) on both of them, and neither seemed a good fit after a while. Rookie mistake, that's what I get for skimping on saddles, lesson learned. As a result, my horses went from very calm, confident horses to spooky horses, my KY Mtn/Arab cross developed a sore back, and my Mustang would literally try to run out from underneath her saddle b/c the fit was not working for her. I need something that is going to work with them as they change shape and condition, hence the reason why I am looking at the Freeform and the Specialized saddles.

Anyone with any advice or insight out there, I would be extremely grateful for your help. Many thanks and happy trails! :)


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i have a mustang that would throw bucking temper tantrums because of saddle fit. once i switched him to treeless he is sooo much calmer about everything. he stands tied quietly. no bucking or biting. bad saddles can cause more problems than u realize. personally i will never go back to a tree. i debated for a long time and researched a lot. If u are considering a saddle with a tree, look up schleese. he has videos on saddle fit that will help u know what to look for. u need to know if ur horses have A framed withers or U shaped withers (take pics of their back from behind them. Check Shoulder Fit!!!! the shoulder moves back under the saddle pommel and panels and there must be room for them.

Treeless saddles are good for some horses, not good for some horses, just like treed saddles. I have an Abetta QH tree saddle that works well for my Arabs. It is a slightly narrower tree than the Arab tree and for my horses seems to have a better "rocker" in the tree. I did try the Arab tree and on all my horses it sat on their withers and stuck up in the back. I don't know why they call it an Arab tree. Anyway, back to treeless, it depends on the horses build, the saddle structure and materials, a good pad designed for treeless saddles, and your weight and riding style also. Some treeless have hard pommels and cantles that need to fit the horses otherwise it puts too much pressure on those areas, or if it is too wide, allows the saddle to sit on the wither (bad). It doesn't sound like your horses' backs are similar, so maybe one saddle won't fit them both. Generally speaking a high withered horse isn't a candidate for a treeless saddle, but Freeform does make a cutback and a short base version that might accommodate both the high wither and short backs. I'd say try one of those. If you get the standard longer base Freeform, your horses would possibly get loin rubbing because FF saddles are fairly firm even though they have no tree. Good luck!

I do use a treeless now, the Abetta has been retired. I have a Sensation Hybrid, been using it on 4 or 5 different horses for 3 yrs now.



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