So which trees are better? Let's look at wooden trees first.
So which trees are better??
There are many tree types these days as advances are made in technology and testing. This week we’ll look at the traditional wooden trees.
These trees are made of wood – layers of wood in fact. Follow the photos below of a wooden tree being made.
Most are reinforced with metal springs attached to either end of the tree and some are covered in ‘scrim’ so they appear black.
They are strong and durable and are common in saddles made in the UK. They are a reliable and stable base for your saddle with a proven track record.
They have ‘rails’ and it’s imperative that the shape and angles of these rails matches the shape of your horse as you can see below – but more about that when we come to tree profiles!!
The one downfall of a wooden tree is probably their lack of adjustability. But if you have a horse that does not change dramatically over the course of the year then they are a good option.
It's best to have it fitted to your horse at their widest as you have the option of shimming or using a pad when they are narrower than the gullet width but there's nothing you can do if they are wider (this should only be done under the guidance of a good saddle fitter though and only if it is just one size difference!)
The adjustability of a wooden tree can vary between manufacturers so it’s really important if you buy a wooden tree saddle that you check on the acceptable adjustments for that particular manufacturer as anything outside of this may affect warranty.
Just within the brands that Performance Saddlefits deal with we have differing recommendations such as:
• Can go out 2 sizes and back in but not too often
• Can go out 1 size and back in
• Can be adjusted one fit either way and can go in and out
• Can go out a size but never in
• Can be adjusted one size but only once
• Can’t be adjusted at all.
This is not so much because you might break the tree itself with slight adjustments but too much movement can loosen the rivets that hold the gullet plate onto the tree (see this photo showing a close up of the gullet plate).
So you can see how important it is to understand the tree in your saddle!
Also keep track of any adjustments made and ensure these details are passed onto any new owners as they need to be aware! Buying a 2nd hand wooden tree saddle can have its risks too if you don’t know the saddle’s history so it’s best to not to have it adjusted unless you know what has previously been done to it.
Next time we’ll look at synthetic and changeable gullet trees!
Does your horse have a straight back or a curvy back or something in between?? 🤔🤔
Horses have different shapes through the length of their backs and it's very important to know if your saddle tree matches this shape. You also need to consider the horse's static shape vs dynamic shape as horse's can lift their backs when being ridden, changing their profile shape! 🐎
And did you know that most of the cheaper saddles you buy off the shelf are based on a standard shape horse? So if you have a horse who doesn't fit this mold you could be causing the horse all sorts of problems! 😬
There are 2 main problems caused with an incorrect profile shape: bridging and rocking. Both are a big problem for your horse because they not only make your horse uncomfortable they can also decrease your horse's performance, cause muscle damage, compensatory posture, behavioural issues, and make your horse very sore. 😥
How do you correctly store your saddle? The wrong saddle stands and racks can cause damage to your saddle panels & flocking. Check out the types of racks that are safe to use and how to convert others using Smoothie slip ons, pool noodles or other thick padding.
How to Measure up for your Mattes Pad mattes-pad-measuring-guide-3Using a measuring tape measure the distance, following the contour of the saddle at the top of the channel, between an imaginary line at the front. Add a minimum of 6cm. The measurement you have just taken is the MINIMUM pad length required for your saddle. Choose the appropriate size from this guide: Small=47cm Medium=54cm Large=58cm Extra large=62cm