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Q: We recently purchased an ex-chaser/point-to-pointer for my husband to have some fun with, mainly hacking. The horse is a 17.2hh 12-year-old and has done nothing for two years. He is high-withered, so saddle-fitting is a challenge, coupled with the fact that we expect him to change shape considerably as he muscles up. I thought a treeless saddle would be worth trying, but I’m struggling to find comparative advice on what types are available and how good they are.

SD, West Lothian

Advocates of treeless saddles maintain that they accommodate a wider range of horse shapes and are more versatile than saddles with trees. Hence, you are right to consider a treeless saddle for your horse, as it will mould to his changing shape, particularly after his training break.

You mention that you are struggling to find comparative advice on the types available, but this may be because much of the information out there for consumers is opinion-based, according to Birgit Michaux of Dream Team Products, which runs the Treeless Saddle Helpline.

“Many treeless saddle blogs have a lot of ‘chat’ about treeless saddles, but please remember that you are always looking at individuals’ opinions,” warned Birgit. “Somebody might recommend a certain saddle that worked for them, but it might not be suitable for somebody else. I would also be careful with buying a treeless saddle on online auction sites, as they don’t come with any help or after-sales service.”

Birgit believes the most suitable saddle for your high-withered horse would be one of the Italian-made Freeform models, as this company specialises in horses with high withers.

“If you are intending to ride your husband’s horse, you can also use the saddle, even if you are of different stature, because they have interchangeable seats,” said Birgit. “I hope you find the right product for your horse; contact the Treeless Saddle Helpline (08456 731737) for further advice.”

This is an extract from Ask H&H, first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (10 February, 2011)

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