Discuss Adjustable Tree Saddle at the Tack & Equipment forum - Horse Forums. Does anyone have any advice about adjustable tree saddles? I don't have a horse currently ...
Adjustable Tree Saddle
Does anyone have any advice about adjustable tree saddles? I don't have a horse currently and I ride a number of different horse body types, so an adjustable tree (or gullet kit, or whatever the brand offers) sounds ideal to me. I always ignored the adjustable trees because they usually come in Wintecs or other synthetics and I HATE synthetic saddles and I'm not a fan of leather Bates either. But now reputable leather saddle companies look like they're coming out with adjustable trees or gullet kits so I'm wondering if I need to re-think this. I haven't found much info on them from a horse-health standpoint. Obviously the saddles are popular so that speaks for itself, but I've also heard that adjusting the gullet does nothing for horses that need different tree sizes and that adjustable gullets can really harm your horse. Any suggestions?
If adjustable gullets DO harm your horse because it doesn't solve the problem, why do saddles offer measurements for trees based on the gullet? That's where it hits the shoulder. So why wouldn't an adjustable tree work then?
Just wondering. I'd love some advice from someone more knowledgable.
hopefully someone more knowledgeable will come along and correct me where I'm wrong, but in the meanwhile... in a nutshell, the saddle should mirror the exact shape of the horse's back. That means the width from front to back, the curve, the breadth, etc. Every horse's back is unique, though there are sometimes 'tendencies' within breeds, etc.
A changeable gullet isn't 'bad' to my knowledge, its just that it only addresses one aspect of fit. Its like having jeans with an adjustable waist band... thats all well and good, but if you grow taller the jeans are no longer long enough so the adjustable band is only solving one portion of the problem.
I'm going to take a guess and say that manuf. offer measurements for trees based on gullet because its the most obvious, and probably critical, aspect of saddle fitting, especially for the novice, and its the easiest way for saddlers to classify and then sell their saddles. Rather like how we buy clothes as S M L XL, etc... there's no saying "M with a little extra room in the thigh" or "L with a tendency to a slimmer calf" or "XL with extra shoulder room"... as shoppers, we have to go and try stuff to see what 'brand' fits our unique shape best... its the same for saddles & horses.
The saddle tree should not hit the shoulder ever actually, it should lay just behind it. The points of the tree should be spread and angled in such a way that it mirrors the shape of the horse's back and lay across the strong fleshy portion just behind the shoulder blade, so the weight of the rider can be spread evenly in a section of muscle that can withstand the pressure. Very much like carrying a backback that has a frame. If the pack is of reasonable shape, the load balanced and the straps snugged, the weight of the pack will be distributed rather effortlessly between your shoulders and your hips/lower back, if the load is uneven or the frame doesn't suit the person, the person will feel the weight dragging and jabbing and the load will quickly become unbearable.
as far as leather adjustable saddles, only 3 come to mind, Bates (I did see a bates once that I fell madly in love with, the rest I haven't liked a bit), Laser (or Lazer I forget) and Rembrandt. There are some synthetics out there that are leather-like I am told, but I too dislike synthetic.
I had a synthetic Thorowgood once that had the "fish system", it was designed to offer a bit more tailored fit to go along with the changeable gullet. It appeared to work very nicely, and the saddle over all was highly intelligent, but I sold it because I don't like synthetic. If I ever do decide to go synthetic again however, I will be getting a thorowgood.
Depending on your riding needs, you might be better off with one fabulous saddle in a m/w width, with a cut back head, and a rather wide channel (but not too wide), somewhat flattish panels with a moderate pitch to them, and a medium narrow twist and shorter tree points or a somewhat flexible tree (like a spring tree or passier tree). A saddle such as this would offer flexibility in fit rather than being specific, then you could arm yourself with a great padding system and pad to tailor the horses you ride.
I believe, and I could be wrong, that this is the method that Tad Coffin saddles employ... there is one saddle width for his saddles... wide... and then an array of lovely and expensive pads to tailor the fit to your horse... I think thats how it goes.
I have a crosby that fits the description above, it seems to magically fit every horse its put on (reasonably, I haven't put it on a halfie or a rail thin tb)... its just a forgiving and clever design of tree/panel.
I hope someone comes along to correct me if I'm off base... good luck..
Last edited by buck1173; 12-30-2008 at 05:13 PM.
if you doubt your own capacities, the horse will doubt them too óDESMOND
Hmmmm...Thanks for the info, that's a lot to think about. I was kind of considering a Collegiate convertible because I had a collegiate for years (till my butt got too big) and I loved it, but I don't know how well it fit the horses I rode! I'm pretty interested in a flex tree--I'll have to do more research because I don't know much about them but I hear good things. If you have any suggestions for brands, I would love to hear them as well. Thanks for the input!
Collegiates are now made in Argentina and aren't nearly as good as they used to be... unless you go for one of their higher end models. Crosby and Pessoa also have changeable gullets, and again, not as good as they used to be, but both are better than Collegiate.
If you ride mostly medium-narrow to medium-wide horses you might consider Courbette's swiss e-motion tree. It's an auto-adjust flex tree. It's been out on the market a while now (10 years? 8 years?) and it's been pretty well received. All of their Swiss made saddles have this tree. They have a wide version now in a few of their models, for Wide-XWide flatter backed horses.
The thing with changeable gullets or flex trees is that the front changes, but the rest doesn't. So, the type in Wintec's and Bate's saddles fits most horses well, but not flatter/rounder backed horses, even if you can get the gullet wide enough.
Personally, I would just want two saddles. I'd go with a used Stubben in a 30-30.5 cm tree for "medium" horses and a used wide tree Albion (or any hoop tree saddle) for the big 'uns. With those two and different pads, you'd cover just about anything .
"To be an equestrian in the classical sense is not just to be a rider. It is a position in life."
--Charles de Kunffy
Ahem...I am compelled to comment that the only saddles with adjustable TREES are Schleese, Rembrandt, and to some extent Kieffer and Prestige.
The other saddles all have adjustable GULLETS, and changing these just changes the width of the gullet. It does not change the tree in any appreciable way, which is why these saddles don't "fit every horse" by a long shot.
I am not a huge fan of the adjustable gullet systems. I think that if you TRULY need that kind of variability, something like a Balance saddle is a better idea.
most people I know don't change the gullet that much because it is a royal pain in the butt region to do.
hi, Have you heard about the new RTF (Rotate to Fit ) Easy On System ? . It seems to be fantastic. I dont know yet what saddle brand has it but if somebody can help me I will appreciate it
I rode in a Wintec synthetic saddle *shudders* for years and YEARS and their adjustable gullet didn't do a thing to help it fit the horse. I did actually used to change it now and then, but even when we got a professional fitter out he said the only thing we could do was shove a front raiser under it and hope it didn't mess up the horses' backs too bad. I had horses from fat rolly polly ponies to high withered TBs and it never fit one of them properly
Everyone above is right, changing the gullet won't fix the fit unless the tree's already the right shape. I haven't heard of a saddle like that but obviously people here have, so good luck!
Do you know which models?!
Originally Posted by luvs2ride79
2009 Appaloosa x Belgian mare
Maggie Bright "Skye"
1994 - 2013
One thing you have to know about saddles with adjustable gullets is that they aren't made to be changed often. They just can't hold up to that. They're designed for the gullets to be changed only when a horse goes in and out of condition throughout the year. However, many people misunderstand the concept and think of it as something to use on all of the different horses they ride, with just a simple change of the gullet. But not only are these saddles not made to be changed more frequently than every few months or so, even if the gullets fit every horse you put the saddle on it doesn't mean the rest of the tree will. And the "easy change" systems are never as easy as the companies claim. Every time I've changed a gullet by myself it's taken a good 10-20 minutes. Other than that, the idea is very helpful for some horses and riders.
Originally Posted by Heavenly Jumper
A friend told me this morning that JPC is launching a new HDR with a new adjustable system called Rotate To Fit - very easy to use
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