by Sarah Crampton
When Barefoot Treeless Saddles work, they really work. Barefoot Saddles USA received a call from a customer who was literally at her wits end trying to find a saddle to fit her older Arabian. After trying numerous saddles for over two years, she decided to give the Barefoot Cheyenne Treeless Saddle a try.
At Barefoot Saddles USA we ask for a photo of your horse. A full side view, weight on all four feet, head in a natural position taken on level ground is a very useful photo for helping to determine saddle fit. As you can see in the photo, the Arabian has a pretty prominent wither and a back that drops away from the wither.
This conformation can be a challenge for fitting any saddle, tree or no tree, as it’s difficult to get enough wither clearance and at the same time get the saddle level so the rider will sit in the center and be balanced.
Next, we ask that you print out the pommel measuring guide to see how your horse will compare to the different size pommels available – narrow, standard/medium, wide and extra wide. There are some horses that are so wide; they need the soft pommel to allow the saddle to spread as wide as the horse. This Arabian measured between a medium and wide pommel. In this case, we recommended trying the medium standard pommel because of his prominent withers.
Then we need to determine what size girth will fit. It is important to have the girth the correct size, and most importantly not too long. Too long of a girth will creep up near the saddle flap, especially on small horses, and make the saddle unstable. This Arabian measured 20” elbow to elbow and so a 22” girth was appropriate.
Barefoot Treeless Saddles have two styles of saddle pads designed to go with each saddle model. The Special Saddle Pads have one set of soft open-cell foam inserts, wool felt and wool fleece underlay. The Physio Saddle Pads have two sets of inserts – one set is soft open-cell foam, the other is dense closed-cell foam and can be used separately or combined together for the most back and spine protection. The Physio Saddle Pads also have non-slip underlay that can be very helpful for keeping the saddle in place. For this Arabian, we recommended the Physio Saddle Pad so there would be different foams to work with, and customize if necessary with shims to get the saddle level.
We shipped out the saddle to allow a week for the customer to try it out. After a couple of rides, this email was sent to us that says it all.
“After almost 2 years of searching and trying multiple saddles, the Barefoot Cheyenne hit the bull’s eye! It fits Noah and me perfectly in every way! My barn friends commented that not only do we both look comfortable in it; it puts me in the perfect riding position so I can be the best partner for him. Absolutely the best saddle EVER! I’ll send you pictures this week, I’m so excited and grateful that I totally forgot to take them.”
Soon after, the photo was sent of horse and rider in their new Barefoot Cheyenne. Her comment to go with the photo was, “Not the best angle, but the smile says it all!”
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You can find out more about Barefoot Saddles in our section on English & Western Tack.