The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I think I'm about to take the plunge. I think it's time to buy a saddle for Rose and my husband.

A couple of years ago, I bought a big ol' used hybrid Australian/English saddle for my husband. It was comfortable for him once he was settled in it, but he found it difficult to navigate around the horn while mounting and dismounting. The weight is also a problem. My husband is quite heavy, and Rose doesn't need the additional burden of a hefty saddle.

Seems like whenever I do something, there isn't necessarily a very logical progression as to when and in what manner the thing occurs. An outcome crystallizes around the seed of an idea, and the result happens by some mysterious process of its own.

This applies to the mundane, but nonetheless important, matter of saddle purchasing. I've decided to try a treeless saddle. To be honest, I think the idea of it appeals to me more than any particular justification I can think of. I like that the saddle (allegedly) fits multiple horses (or the same horse at different weights). I like that it's light, that it doesn't bridge, that there's no point of tree interfering with the shoulders. Mostly I just like the idea.

There are many treeless saddle choices out there these days. For some forgotten reason, I have lighted on Black Forest Treeless Saddles. They may have been recommended by someone, or then again maybe I just happened upon them. I've looked at other websites, but having lit upon Black Forest, I believe I'm going to give them a try.

The saddle they recommended is the Oak Town & Country. I would get it without the horn.

On the other hand, I'd rather have English billets, so maybe the Aspen would be better:

Looks like a rider would feel pretty secure in one of these saddles. The saddles come in sizes up to 18" English/19" Western - a good size for my husband, although not for anyone else. I hate riding in the big hybrid saddle, as I feel I'm sloshing about all over the place - and in fact that's the reason its previous owner got rid of it.

There's another motive precipitating the saddle purchase. My husband is feeling wistful about his only child left at home. Three and a half more years, and then off she goes too. He wants to spend time with her in activities that they both enjoy. They're thinking: Sailing. And of course if he and Rose become an item, the foursome can go on trail rides together.  Also, when it's just us two left at home, it will be nice for us to have a shared activity. And there's that mountain sitting on the horizon, just waiting to be climbed.

My husband has always said that he would enjoy riding more if he had a groom bring him a ready-to-mount horse. I hope he comes to enjoy building a relationship as much as being taken for a ride. Rose would love to have her "own" person, and it's time for me to start facilitating their friendship. A first step is getting a saddle that they both are comfortable with, as my husband still sees horses more for their value in recreation than for companionship. However, he loves dogs, and I hope that he will gradually come to recognize horses too. Horses are a little like "Magic Eye" pictures. You don't necessarily "see" them at first - you have to let your focus become diffuse, and allow the image to come in.  I will try this metaphor on my husband and see if it persuades him! He did sound quite keen when I told him I was planning to get him a saddle.

I've also ordered a bitless bridle. I may put off ordering the saddle until we have slightly warmer weather. Will update.


  1. I have a Barefoot Cherokee treeless saddle that I rode in for years. The Black Forest Aspen looks exactly the same, I suppose the makers of the Black Forest might have modelled their saddles on the Barefoot range, which comes from Germany. I loved that saddle very much and it served me very well with Minnie.

    Then I put it on Cassie and it was not ideal. The pommel of these saddles is made of fibreglass and rock hard. I found that Cassie's long stride pushed me into the pommel, to such an extend that I ended up feeling bruised. That might also be an issue for your husband. I don't use it on Cassie anymore, I now have an Arab Saddle Company Saddle for her, with tree.

    I love the Barefoot and found it very comfortable to sit in, and I am looking forward to riding Minnie in it again when Minnie is ready. But there are drawbacks. You can't mount from the ground on a tall horse because the saddle slips if you put weight in the stirrup to get on, you need a mounting block. If I had to get off Cassie out in the forestry, I had to find a log or rock to stand on. I could mount Minnie, because she is smaller and I do an Icelandic mount on her.

    Riding in this saddle is close to riding bareback. You feel every movement your horse make, but they feel every movement you make. The saddle offers no help and does not distribute weight evenly if the rider has an insecure seat.
    It is not the panacea they make it out to be. Maybe you can try one out before you buy one, some companies let you try for 2 weeks.

  2. What's an Icelandic mount? My husband always has to use a mounting block anyway. Rose has very smooth action, so maybe feeling everything isn't too bad. I'd kind of like to give it a try.

    Black Forest have a no-questions asked return policy.

    It's a good point about the fibreglass pommel - I've emailed them to ask about what the pommel's made of.

    I also really like the Wintec Cair-panel endurance saddle. Might consider another one of those.

  3. June,
    I think it's great that your hubby is showing an interest in riding (I wish Grif and I had some riding companions with a similar philosophy to ours). Either of those saddles look like they would be comfortable.

    I ride in an Aussie saddle myself (English style, no horn) and I love it. I had it adjusted to fit Griffin when I bought it and it fits him well....well most of the time. Right now he is a tootsie roll, so things are a little snug -- but since I don't ride much in the winter, it will be ok until he looses all the "winter round bale" weight.

    I am a larger gal and I like the Aussie (vs. my old western saddle) because of the overgirth. It actually stays more secure for mounting and riding. I don't think I would ever go back to a western saddle again.

    Some places have the "try before you buy" option which might help you decide what would work best :)

  4. An Icelandic mount: Stand beside your horse, facing in the same direction as the horse. Take the reins in your left hand and rest hand on the pommel. With your right hand, reach over the horse's saddle and grab the stirrup leather. Put your foot in the stirrup and as you mount, pull down on the right stirrup leather with your hand. This prevents the saddle from slipping or twisting. If you do it really well, in theory it is possible to mount this way without being girthed up! I can do it with Minnie, but Cassie is just too tall.

  5. Ha! I didn't know that's what you called it. That's the way I always mount! (if, like you say, the horse isn't too tall.)