My Sensation treeless saddle is one of the most comfortable saddles I’ve ever owned, but one of the challenges to riding in a treeless saddle is that without the rigid structure of a tree, the saddle can slip more easily. There are a few tricks to keep your saddle secure.
First, of course, is to stay balanced. Treeless saddles may reveal that you lean to one side, put more weight in one stirrup than the other, or are easily jostled out of position. Second, is try not to mount from the ground. Yes, it can be done, but trust me, a mounting block is way easier on you and your horse.
Some of the external things to check include:
- Your girth. Yes, it needs to be tight, but it also needs to be the right length. The girth should attach between one and two hands width above your horse’s elbow. Too long or too short can impact stability.
- Your pad. It may take some trial and error to find the right pad — one that offers both spinal clearance and which keeps your saddle from shifting. I use a Saddleright pad. I’ve found it works best without a liner. Sure, it means the wool underside gets dirty, but it’s a lot better than having your saddle slipping.
- A breastplate. Adding a breastplate has probably made the most difference in terms of stability. A breastplate keeps your saddle from sliding back, but also helps with lateral stability. I’ve always used a breastplate when foxhunting, since you are moving fast and often on varied terrain but it took me a while to try it on my treeless saddle. For daily rides, I use a biothane breastplate from Two Horse Tack. I’ve been buying their products for years and love that I can hose it off at the end of a ride.
Looking at this photo from my ride today, you’ll see that Zelda is bitless, barefoot and in a treeless saddle. Zelda is wearing a Sensation Western Sport, a Saddleright pad, and a Nutural Bitless bridle. I wouldn’t foxhunt her bitless, but around home she’s very responsive to my seat and I like giving her mouth a break. She likes it because she can snack more easily.
I realized that several years ago, I had a similar post with Freedom, although he needed to wear boots. He’s wearing a Freeform saddle and an LG bridle. I loved that saddle but it just didn’t work as well with Zelda since she’s so much wider than Freedom. I didn’t use a breastplate on Freedom. The Freeform is a more rigid saddle and he’s more of an “A-frame” horse. I never had an issue with it slipping on him.
Do you ride in a treeless saddle? What helps you stay secure?