How to check treeless saddle fit.

Treeless saddle string test
Treeless saddle string test

While treeless saddle manufacturers state that their saddles fit all horses, that’s not quite true.

Treeless saddles DO fit a broader range of horse sizes and shapes than saddles with a fixed tree but it is still important that the saddle distributes the rider’s weight over a large area and does not concentrate pressure on the horse’s withers, spine or loin area.

That’s why most treeless saddle manufacturers recommend using special padding systems to be used under the saddle. The pad creates a gullet and protects the horse’s spine.

Even so, it’s very important to check that your weight is not resting on the horse’s spine — after all, that’s where the horse’s nervous system runs!

Checking saddle clearance is easy and requires only a length of baling twine.

  • Cut a length of twine that’s 3-4′ long.
  • Tie a knot in at one end of the string.
  • Place the string in the gullet area of the saddle (where it would cover the horse’s spine) with the knot sticking out in front of the pommel.
  • Saddle your horse and tighten the girth. Make sure the knot is still in front of the pommel and the string is centered over the horse’s spine. Girth your saddle up.
  • Mount your horse. While seated, try to pull the string through the saddle (from front to back).

How to interpret the results.

  • If the string slides through easily, your saddle has enough clearance.
  • If the string slides through with minor resistance, it’s probably fine. This could also be caused by the string catching on your saddle pad.
  • If you can pull the string through but it’s a bit hard to do so, you probably need to improve the padding under your saddle.
  • If you can’t pull the string through or it requires a lot of strength, you either need a drastic padding change or a different saddle.

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