Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

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Chisamba
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Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby Chisamba » Tue Feb 01, 2022 4:39 pm

I have and occasionally use a bareback pad. It's a simple thin line style. I have been criticized for using one, because some people think that it puts more pressure on the horses back.

I realize that trees were designed for a purpose, but I also think humans are mostly selfish, so the purpose was more likely for human gain than equine wellbeing.

Now saddlemaking is like the luxury car market. Every saddlemaker will find a compelling reason why their system is better than all others.

My question is probably for the thinking rider, not the strongly opinionated marketer.

What are your opinions of the pros and cons of bareback pads, versus treeless saddles, versus treed saddles.

Horses backs are probably as numerous different as opinions are.

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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby Sue B » Tue Feb 01, 2022 5:55 pm

I'll bite...In part, it depends on the individual horse and rider. My warmblood , Tio, has a perfect back for bareback riding---broad, spine well protected by epaxial muscles and fat. That said, I haven't tried him bareback because I'm afraid he'll dump me, lol. Rudy, the TB, has withers from hell but a very nice broad back. He has made it VERY clear that I am to ride him only in a perfectly fitted treed saddle and nothing else. Scotty, a TB I had years ago, was of the same opinion. Even with a bareback pad, I could tell he was uncomfortable--in his case, his spine was level with his epaxial muscle, riding without a bareback pad was excruciating for me. Erin (deceased) and Rabbit (alive) were both quite amenable to bareback riding with and without a pad, although Rabbit prefers a pad to protect her possibly injured spine (unclear history.) They're both quarter horses. Willy, a TB I had waaaay back, was so. much. fun. to ride bareback, he did not care if it was with a pad. You could do all sorts of things bareback like dressage, jumping, trail riding....He loved it all. The only people I know with treeless saddles wound up giving up on them, but again, that was years ago. One lady couldn't sit well in it and her horse was unhappy, another person liked it (not sure about the horse) but the foam broke down and couldn't be replaced.

In sum, occasional bareback riding is da bomb, generally great for horse AND rider. Trees, when fitted right, do seem to provide more protection for the spine over time, which makes for happier more willing mounts. I think that's why they were invented. JMO.

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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby khall » Tue Feb 01, 2022 9:53 pm

I’m with SueB on this! Some horses nope won’t get on bare back ever! Rip was one of those. Some I’ve ridden bareback all over and even jumped bareback. It’s something I really enjoy since I’ve done it all of my riding life. Usually with no bareback pad at all. Though the Valenca’s in Portugal had one they recommended similar to the this line one. Me I’m lazy and just get in no pad.

I had a Vogue that was ok. The Heather Moffat. Not the most stable of saddles though which I needed for Rip:). Karen Rolf rides in the Ansur I’m not really up on what is all out there anymore.

I ride Gaila bareback have not Joplin yet. I rode Gallie all over my big fields as a young horse bareback.

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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby Flight » Tue Feb 01, 2022 10:04 pm

I've got friends who only ride in a bareback pad. They had trouble with saddle fit or their own or horses crookedness which would shift the saddle and cause more issues than riding in bareback pad. Once I started seeing how the crookedness can jam the saddle tree into the spine or shoulders et, I understood why.
Great for their riding, in that you can't brace yourself as easily if you are crooked etc.
I think you would know if your horse didn't like it Chisamba.

My instructor wanted me to ride my big horse bareback, to see if he would breathe better without a girth. I did a few times. It's quite interesting, you feel so much more. I definitely needed something under me, he has a huge wither!! Ouch! Plus the hair is surprisingly spikey. I dont do it anymore, Im too frightened of falling off, it's too high!

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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby heddylamar » Tue Feb 01, 2022 11:22 pm

I can't imagine a horse going happily in a bareback pad / treeless saddle unless they were comfortable. It may just be that I ride opinionated mares, but if anything is bothering them, they let me know immediately, so whatever we're riding in has their approval.

I'm not a fan of either bareback pads or treeless saddles, but that's a personal thing. Maybe I've never ridden in a decent treeless saddle (older treeless racing saddles) or bareback pad (both the leather/wool kind and the poofy sort), but they always shift under me, and leave me feeling like I'm sitting on a bar of soap. So if I'm going to ride bareback, my ass is directly on the horse. That's a bit itchy and messy, so I reserve it for fun excursions, like riding in the snow when I want to steal body heat :D

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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby Chisamba » Wed Feb 02, 2022 12:34 am

When I was too young to remember our stallion lived in the back yard when he was separated from the herds to avoid unwanted progeny. I am told my mother would realize I was gone, and go looking for me and find me on Red's back. It started when I was 8 months old. Apparently my older brother would get yelled at for letting me up and leaving me there until mom saw me make my escape and watched me toddler over to where Red was grazing. Tug on his forlock. climb up his mane and sit on his back. Apparently by the time I was two. He would kneel for me and I would step on his folded leg like a ladder and get on. I don't remember getting in that young but I do remember falling off. One day a donkey stallion materialized from goodness known where and came screaming and eee aaaw ing up the drive and Red forgot about babysitting and charged over to the fence to protect his mares. People were running and shouting and trying to catch said donkey and I sat crying my eyes out. When Mom scooped me up to see where i hurt. It turns out I was upset because Red abandoned me, not because I was sore.

Anyway, I spent hours upon hours riding with no tack at all. I wanted my own horse so badly, that mom and dad made a pact that I couldnt get my own horse till I could saddle and bridle it myself. I'm making a short story long now, but like khall u spent many hours bareback or with no tack at all. When I eventually was assigned a horse to ride. She was a huge off thectrack thoroughbred. We didn't have a girth long enough so while we waited for a long girth on the slow boat from England. I rode with a saddle but no girth. So when my saddle fitter tightens my girth as tight as she can. I lean down and loosen it. She yelled at me because she claims if I wore a backpack I wouldn't want it bouncing in my back. And I tell her my spine is vertical not horizontal.

Anyway. Thank you flight for respecting me enough to believe I would know if my horse was uncomfortable.

Yes treed saddles are more secure. They are more secure for humans. But I edut to add that a week fitting treed saddle is probably now comfortable for the horse too, BUT an ill fitting treed saddles may well be worse than a bareback pad or a treeless one. I am not sure
Last edited by Chisamba on Wed Feb 02, 2022 2:56 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby heddylamar » Wed Feb 02, 2022 1:56 am

Chisamba wrote:So when my saddle fitter tightens my girth as tight as she can. I lean down and loosen it. She held at me because she claims uf I wore a backpack I wouldn't want it bouncing in my back.


I always back off on the girth too and buy the super stretchy double-ended elastic type. Can you imagine being comfortable running around in a tight belt for an hour? I sure can't. And, no, there is no way that any of us who can do a halfway decent sitting trot is bouncing about on our horse's back. That's just nuts. Riding bareback is what really clarified my sitting trot.

Absolutely love the story about Red! I have a similar tale from my childhood ... and driving my aunt to drink :lol:

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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby Ponichiwa » Wed Feb 02, 2022 2:57 pm

I ride my very comfortably-shaped gelding bareback probably 2-3 times/month (usually when I'm too lazy to tack up "for real" and/or am taking him out for a light day). I'm no Isabel Werth so my actual dressage work is much poorer quality bareback vs. under saddle. I am also too lazy to have another piece of tack for specifically lazy days, preferring instead to just get my breeches dirty.

Have never liked treeless saddles, personally-- they're a weird compromise between treed saddles (which, among other things, distribute stirrup-specific pressure across a wider area) and bareback (which doesn't have stirrups, so no need to worry about that) and don't really execute that compromise particularly well. Although to be fair to the treeless saddle industry, it's been a good 15 years since I've sat in one so maybe they're better now.

I am a big believer in making sure that your saddle actually fits your horse. It makes a huge difference to a) have a horse that is comfortable lifting the back up into the saddle and b) not have to fight your own tack to maintain neutral balance.

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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby blob » Wed Feb 02, 2022 5:31 pm

i do think saddle trees protect the horse's back from rider mistakes--bouncing, crookedness, etc will be softened by the saddle's tree. So I do think saddle trees are for both rider AND horse. Having said that, if someone is secure in their seat and a horse has enough padding (fat or muscle over the actual spinal column) then i don't think it harms the horse.

I don't ride mine bareback very often for the following reasons:
RP: it doesn't feel super safe to ride him bareback. I thinkt he mounting alone would be potentially stressful for him and then he's so sensitive that if I shifted weight or lost any amount of balance it would just spiral out of control.

MM: in some ways she is the perfect bareback horse--safe, smooth, wide-flat back. BUT she's actually so wide that when I sit on her, i can't get my leg on her. The saddle puts my seat in a narrower place, so i can bring my legs down against her side. Bareback, i'm spread so wide i'm doing the split and my knees are out to the side and i cannot get my lower leg on at all. For just walking around this is fine, but I couldn't really do much of anythign effectively without a lower leg on the horse.

So, with MM i think the saddle is there just for me. With RP I think it's a bit of both right now, though he could probably be trained to get comfortable iwth bareback riding over time. I'm just not that brave.

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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby Sue B » Wed Feb 02, 2022 5:59 pm

Adding...I bought my first horse when I was 14 or 15 for 200.00. He was 3yrs old; the kid who showed him to me rode him bareback, galloping around the pasture in a bosal. When his cowboy hat flew off, he doubled back and scooped it off the ground, hanging off the side of the colt like an Indian in the old Westerns. By the time I got the pasture fence built and purchased hay (pasture not irrigated) I did not have money for a saddle. My folks got me one for Christmas that year, about 8 months after I purchased the colt. I even rode him home (an 8 mile ride) from the barn he'd been dropped off at, in a halter and an old wool saddle blanket for a "bareback pad". Didn't get home until well after dark, but the little guy took good care of his not so good rider even though he had never seen half the stuff we encountered on our way. Amazing what one can do when they don't know any better, lol.

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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby Chisamba » Wed Feb 02, 2022 10:46 pm

I have only ridden in an Ansur treeless once trying a horse before purchase. But I did read an article by a person who spoke about rehabbing horse with atrophied back muscles using treeless saddles

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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby Moutaineer » Wed Feb 02, 2022 11:10 pm

I've never ridden in a treeless saddle, and not on a bareback pad for over 50 years, when little ponies had thick felt ones with a useful handle on them :) I can't remember if those had stirrups.

(I probably haven't ridden bareback more than a handful of times. Never had a horse with the correct back conformation. Sure as heck not trying it on Potters :))

Thinking back on many of the horses I have known over the years, I do wonder, now we have so much greater knowledge of saddle fit, how many of them were ill mannered because of poor saddle fit.

There's one in particular that stands out to me now as an "of course that was the problem!"

I would think a treeless saddle would be a useful rehab device if the horse had atrophied due to poor fit.

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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby khall » Thu Feb 03, 2022 3:09 pm

One of the best memories I have of riding bareback was riding Joplin’s grand dam Cors de Lis aka Lee bareback in the fog with one of her foals skittering around as we played. I have video of that ride on vhs tape somewhere.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid ... 822&type=3

This was Lee as a young mare my first young horse that I started at age 18. I raised 5 foals out of her. Joplin’s dam Anna was her last. I rode Lee bareback a good bit. Even though she was a TB with big withers she had a lovely broad back to sit on behind those withers.

I do not recommend riding bareback with your friends trail riding with them riding with saddles and on gaited horses! Lol my butt was so sore keeping up with my friends on that trail ride.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid ... 590&type=3 This was my first horse that I rode on that trail ride bareback. I could ride Rajahi anywhere bareback he was such a fun horse.

I don’t think the Ansurs are made anymore. I had ridden in the original ansur and it was not very much saddle for the price they asked. The newer version had more of a traditional saddle look. KR rides in both as well as rides bareback.

The Vogue looked pretty traditional as well. I ended up selling my Vogue to a rider in Holland.

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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby Kyras_Mom » Thu Feb 03, 2022 10:39 pm

I don't really have an issue with either. Fortunately, my horse is not difficult to fit and I have shopped based on my tailbone issue and what might be comfortable for me. I ended up with a treeless saddle. Now I bought mine like ten years ago. My seat is not as deep as the saddle in the link but it looks very traditional.
It does not spread the weight over as large an area as a treed saddle. I will confess, I bought mine before my tailbone pain really escalated and it was not used a whole lot for several years. I still haven't returned to what I would call consistent riding and I am cognizant that my weight is more concentrated but the horse has shown no soreness or issues with what riding I have done.
This is the company's current iteration of the saddle
https://www.solutionsaddles.com/shop/SM ... p361042873

I have no trouble with a correct fitting treed saddle either. They just seem so much harder to fit. With the treeless, you shim the pad to balance the rider and go. I DO NOT ride bareback...it puts me right on my tender coccyx area. I even had issues with riding without stirrups. My stirrups are somewhat shorter to allow my thighs to carry some of my weight. Yes indeed, I will never have that lovely long legged dressage leg :P .

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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby demi » Fri Feb 04, 2022 12:12 am

Loved the pics, Khall!!! You looked mah-velous!!

I dont have a problem with bareback pads or treeless as long as the situation works. I have no desire to ride bareback anymore but I did a lot when I was a kid. Bareback in the winter in Michigan was the only way to ride. Very warm and cozy. I even raced the neighbor’s large pony mare bareback at the fair one year. They put me on her because I was the lightest. She was fast but the neighbors were older boys and they wanted her to have the light weight advantage. Now days my reflexes are too slow to ride my quick little mare bareback. She is a good horse but she does have the occasional arab spook.

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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby StraightForward » Fri Feb 04, 2022 2:01 am

I keep thinking about getting a bareback pad. A fellow boarder has a suede Hilason one that has a bit of stiffness to it, so it seems it would disperse the rider's weight a bit. I need to ask her if I can try it. There is also a Stacy Westfall one for a similar price that looks like it's the same material as the thick felt western pads. What I really want is the Filtsattl (sp?) but I never feel like shucking out $400+ for something I probably won't use a bunch. I did try riding Annabelle BB a month or two ago. She is round and slick as a seal, but with a nice sharp little wither that is not pleasant to land on. I have pulled my stirrups and ridden WTC in my Vinici a few times recently and found it useful.

This morning I was playing with Tesla from the mounting block and got a good bird's eye view of her back for the first time in quite a while. Crap that girl is deceptively broad. Nice wide spinal processes and moderate wither. I might try riding her bareback in 5-10 years. :mrgreen:

As a teen I rode bareback most of the time. My gelding had good confo for it and we would go everywhere and do everything. Plus I could mount from the ground. It never seemed to bother him, and I won quite a few bareback equitation classes at the local shows.
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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby mari » Wed Feb 09, 2022 9:26 am

I love riding with a bareback pad!!! All of the goodness of being actually bareback, with none of the treacherous slipping or allergic reactions in my nether regions :lol:

Really teaches you so much about where you put your own balance, I would do it every week if I had my own bareback pad.
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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby Code3 » Thu Sep 29, 2022 5:10 pm

Posting now only because I just bought a “treeless” saddle that is actually as stable and secure for the rider as my treed saddles. So far my horses love it. The Smart Saddle is made in England. It’s precursor was the Ansur, or whatever they called it in England. But this is so much more refined. Big thumbs up from me and, more importantly, the horses.

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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby Chisamba » Thu Sep 29, 2022 6:48 pm

Code3 wrote:Posting now only because I just bought a “treeless” saddle that is actually as stable and secure for the rider as my treed saddles. So far my horses love it. The Smart Saddle is made in England. It’s precursor was the Ansur, or whatever they called it in England. But this is so much more refined. Big thumbs up from me and, more importantly, the horses.


So interesting. Does your horse like it?

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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby Flight » Thu Sep 29, 2022 11:16 pm

Are your horses rounder in shape? I used to use a heather moffett treeless and liked it. Horse was very round though.

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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby blob » Fri Sep 30, 2022 2:25 pm

Just looked up the smart saddles and looks like they're not a true treeless saddle, but rather a flexible tree saddle (like the dynamic I have), though I think the dynamic has more structure in its flexible tree.

I suspect we will be seeing more flexible tree saddle lines on the market

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Re: Bareback pads/ treeless saddles

Postby Kyras_Mom » Fri Sep 30, 2022 9:59 pm

My treeless saddle is a Smart saddle but it is truly treeless. It is probably 10 years old. The foam system on this saddle is more 'rigid' than a lot of treeless saddles. I am now riding my Prestige treed saddle. The Smart saddle was bridging on her and putting a lot of pressure in 2 places...right behind the shoulders and right at the end of the saddle. in her older age, she does have a scoopy back. I was using a gel wedge pad to raise the back a bit for my balance and the sweat pattern is a bit better. 3 years ago I got a Prestige saddle but the one I got was slightly different than the demo I tried (more forward flaps) and when I first rode it, my balance at trot was really off. I parked it and continued riding the treeless.

So, late this spring I decided that I needed to sell the Prestige if it wasn't working for me and took it back to the barn to try it and viola, with a 15lb weight loss, it felt great. I have gone to that and it definitely spreads my weight over a larger area. I think the horse is slightly more forward and happy in the treed saddle but it isn't a lot. The bodyworker said her back was good and I am noticing her filling out in those behind the shoulder blade hollows. I wouldn't hesitate to ride her in the treeless, I think my particular treeless would work better on a horse with a less scoopy back.

Susan


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