Treeless Tried and Tested is Ten

I can’t believe that I started the original blog ten years ago. (that’s why some of the font is different for those of you eagle-eyed)

I came to the WordPress platform three years ago, doesn’t time just vanish!!!

All I can say is thank you to everyone for their support. Those sending photos, writing reviews to be linked and added. Those reading and following.

Ghost Quevis by Elaine Heney

I have been given permission to add this review of the Ghost saddle below. Elaine has also written a detailed report on the differences between this saddle and two others, the Barefoot and the Deuber.

Ghost Quevis

So far I have seen many positive reviews on these saddles. The odd one is coming up on the second hand market, some people have as many saddles as they do rugs 🙂

Many thanks Elaine for allowing me to link to your review.


Compositi Matrix Stirrup Toe Cages

I have these to try, see how we get on. I do know a lady using these and she finds them ideal. They fit over standard stirrups, you just remove the tread. Underneath these they have two easy to use fixing screws on each.

Probably not the prettiest design out there, but I don’t care much on looks, just if it works, price and ease of use. These come in children and adult sizes.

What safety stirrups do you use and why? let me know and I might do a post on those. If not, why not?

Please be aware that some of the Matrix cages on the market DO NOT FIT THE Compositi PLASTIC STIRRUPS, only the Premium has a removable tread. I have still been unable to get it to fit, so if you can do let me know.

2016-02-17 19.32.16
 © Treeless Tried and Tested 
Matrix Caged Stirrup

No Stirrup November, With A Treeless Saddle

Anyone having a go at this treed or treeless?

Share your thoughts, experiences and photos if you happen to be treeless. Always looking for photos etc 🙂

I won’t be doing the whole month as I haven’t started it yet, but I do ride bareback a lot so for me I will just add a saddle.

My only problem is what one to choose 🙂

Choosing A Treeless, With Copycat

My original guide below was written way back in 2007/8, it still comes up on the Google searches. The copycat article complete with my spelling mistakes and factual errors, also does. 🙂

I find it amusing that not only did the person deny copying bits, they managed to copy mistakes.

Updated 2014

People ask, why go treeless, well because it fits :). It’s simple. If it didn’t suit my horse and me, didn’t fit, then we would use a treed saddle. Nothing wrong with these.

To start off your search, look for a treeless based on your weight, dress size, conformation of the horse or pony, activity it is to be used for and your budget. Not all treeless saddles fit all horses and riders, most treeless saddles fit most horses and riders.

A treeless saddle is not a solve it solution for a badly fitting treed, a badly fitting treeless can cause just as many problems. You can hire a Port Lewis pad if you are concerned about pressure points or fit of a treeless, but bear in mind these are not suited to western styles and are effected by outside temperature.

There are a few saddle fitters in the UK and overseas. Solution have their own trained fitters. Some companies will hire the saddle out to you for a minimum of one week, this allows you to try before committing. There is to date no national qualification for fitting a treeless as there is with treed saddle.

The Dartmoor and Exmoor range have been designed by a Master Saddler and other reputable makes have been designed by people such as physios, endurance riders etc.

Do you want a twist or are you happy without? Some models have the option of creating a twist if required. The twist will give you a similar feel to a treed while being close contact. The non twist tends to feel wider, but depends on your horse and your leg length.

The saddles mainly come in your dress size and each make has their own sizing and base length. Freeform has a base length that you can select your seat size to when getting one made. If you rude in a 17″ treed then that is the seat to select.

Generally a saddle described as a 17″ is for a size 12-14 dress and has either a 21″ or 22″ base. Some makes have a size guide as size 0,1, or 2 so it’s worth asking for the base length, if for example you have a short back equine who won’t cope with the longer base. These days you can buy a short base which is 20″ or smaller, so adults on ponies can ride in a treeless.

Freeform, Barefoot, Torsion and Sensation are a few examples to look at with short base options.

Do NOT buy a treeless saddle without a maker’s name on it, (with the exception of Dream) if the company cannot put a name to it, it’s not worth buying. There are a lot of copies. I won’t even put one on my horse so please do not ask me what they ride like. My horse like me has one back, look after it. Cheap shoes fall apart, need I say more about cheap saddles.

You can pay from £250 up to £3000 plus, the only saddle i can recommend in the budget range is the Libra Trec.

  • Saddles come in-
  • synthetic suede, warm in winter and non slip. It can show signs of wear quite quickly.
  • real suede, more durable but prone to marks especially from the rain.
  • equi leather, looks real but it’s not. Easy care and durable.
  • leather, the cheaper end of the market has a slippery plastic type feel. It’s awful to ride in when wet. Nicer quality the more you spend.
  • nubuck, Barefoot is now using a treated version of which is easier to care for nut does feel different to ride on.
  • combo of the above.

You can choose whether or not to get a treeless saddle pad with pockets for shims (inserts), these act like flocking and you can adjust the fit. This is ideal if you have a horse with a loss of topline, lack of muscle, high withered, or your horse or pony is croup high such as a youngster.


A high withered horse can be fitted with a treeless, some people use a suber pad, or you can use the Equitex high wither pad made by Torsion.  Some treeless now have a very soft pommel insert option or a cut back pommel, so once you have done your research give a few companies a call.

A horse or pony with a forward girth may need a girth designed for this. You can look into the Freeform or Barefoot Cherokee, these have swinging girth straps which allow the girth to be in front of the saddle.

The weight limit on some saddles is due to the material being used, extra weight will compact the material and likely cause pressure.
A heavier rider should opt for a treeless that doesn’t have the weight limit on it, although some makes offer a different pad to cater for this, do ask. Usually the more structured models of saddle have a higher weight limit. Be honest with yourself about what you weigh!

A treeless can be with a gullet or gullet free. It tends to be the case that gullet free doesn’t have a twist and requires proper padding for spinal clearance. The more structured gullet saddles may not need the same level of padding and come with a numnah designed by the company to complement it.

You need to have the girth long enough to avoid hitting the elbows, but not so long as to cause instability. If you cannot do it up from on board, it is too short.

Correct Fitting
Correct Fitting

The girth is a personal choice whether or not to have elastic. The elastic should be firm enough that you cannot pull it, if you can it’s too loose, or dare I say it a cheap girth! I’ve used the girth with the elastic centres and the non elastic end ones.

There are various models of treeless. Some companies have designed over ten styles over the years. Whether you want to do jump, do endurance, western, spanish or you want a basic gp for schooling and hacking, there should be something suitable. These days many have the option of knee rolls which the earlier models didn’t. They also look more conventional in appearance.

Often models come with a moveable stirrup bar plate with a closed ring or e bar. This allows you to adjust the leathers to your preferred place. You can also change from the closed ring to the E bar if you wanted. Either way i recommend safety stirrups or the barnes buckle(ceased production) /Swiss Clips for normal stirrup usage. NEVER use a normal stirrup with a closed ring.

Freeform Stirrup Plate
Freeform Stirrup Plate, © Treeless Tried and Tested 

Some models now have changeable pommel inserts, but remember they do not fit as a treed saddle does, the pommel doesn’t have any weight it just keeps the saddle shape. It shouldn’t be pressing anywhere, in some cheaper makes the pommel has been made too big and can press down, so be aware. If your pommel is pressing and it’s not one if the “cheap” makes then you need to adjust your padding/stirrup placement.

A treeless will help your balance and show you where you lack it, if the saddle goes off to the side, check you are girthed correctly and have level stirrups. If the saddle goes forward check your pommel insert, and you have shimmed enough.

You could mount from the ground, but it is kinder on the animal to use a mounting block.

An exercise sheet under a treeless tends to make the whole saddle unstable, a quarter sheet or wrap around is better.

The Solution is allowed for use in all disciplines under FEI and BHS rules. However so are many others. BD approves of their use, providing they are the standard models. It is only the showing world where a judge may refuse to ride or you may get marked down. This is dependent on what saddle you have chosen.

Most models can be used to jump in. If it states small jumping I tend to think of just over a foot. For anything much more I would want a saddle with a bit more structure. You can jump a metre easily in the Barefoot and Freeform though.

Do your homework, do research, ask questions, a company that can answer all your questions fully is worthy of your money.

The Heather Moffet saddles are part treed and not treeless. The new Flexee is NOT a treeless despite people thinking these are. Therefore I have not included these.

To look at reviews and photos of treeless saddles check out the Treeless Tried and Tested Website below 🙂

Treeless Reviews

Note, Barefoot is the most looked at page on the site.

Can I Compete In A Treeless Saddle?

I get asked this from time to time. The simple answer is yes you can but just be aware of a couple of things.

If you opt for a class where the judge may ride, do not be offended if they decline. In the showing world, tradition is for a treed saddle, if showing if your chosen sport you might like to get one. 🙂

You may be marked down for being in a treeless in the show ring in a less than traditional looking model. Some judges just do not like them. If you want something traditional looking go for a Solution.

BD rules state that you can use a treeless saddle providing it is of a standard design, ie not western looking. If you want something traditional looking go for the Freeform, Barefoot or Sensation Dressage models.

We have had success in the Freeform Classic though. 🙂

2015 championship
              2015 championship

Channeled Suede Horse / Pony Bareback Pad

These are made to order in California USA, they take about a month to do. You can have a western or english model with the option of personalised extras.

Available in plain colours or you can have a tri colour pad made should you wish. 🙂

The feature of these pads is that they offer a spinal clearance channel.

A leather Latigo is fitted over the top with a Latigo one side and off billet on the other. These have a non slip base and stainless steel rigging.