Treed or treeless?

I’ve always used driving saddles with trees never had a problem so I never looked into pros/cons.
A friend of mine has a Shetland x (think Thellwell pony) she’s getting ready to buy him a new harness treeless would be the easier fit but what’s the pros/cons?

Pony is just used for pleasure driving on fields/road, very flat here and likely will always use a 2 wheel cart

Treeless often does not leave a channel over the spine to protect the bony column from being weight bearing. No tree harness can work ok on 4-wheeled vehicles with lightweight wooden shafts, such as older buggies. The Amish use it that way and call it “buggy harness,” which is your usual clue it is treeless. Modern 4-wheelers with independent shafts, can put a good amount of weight on the harness saddle, so they need a harness with a tree in it to man age that shaft weight. Most inexpensive, box pony harness is treeless. Saves costs and lots of people don’t know it is for 4-wheelers.

I would recommend a harness with a tree for a pony and 2-wheeled cart. There is ALWAYS weight on the shafts of a 2-wheeler, with pony being the supporting point. A wider saddle will spread that weight over a larger area of the muscled back than a narrow saddle will.

Width also helps protect the back better as passengers enter or leave the cart, adjust their seating during travel. Perhaps you could have pony owner hold level shafts where the shaft loops will sit on harnessed pony. Warn them to hold TIGHT as you get into the seat, lean forward and back to demonstrate how shaft weight changes on the pony with ANY movement by the passengers. Do be ready to jump aside in case they can’t hold shafts in place! They will always be surprised at the shaft weight, may let go!!

That is what pony will be feeling, so his back, spine, need the saddle with a tree to protect him. Spinal column was never designed to be weight bearing in work.


That is what I was thinking but without first hand experience I wanted to ask. She’s looking at comfy fit harnesses and we have a local dealer to take him to for fitting

EVERYTHNG @goodhors said!
I got a harness made for my mini from an Amish harnessmaker.
My Bad for not stipulating I wanted the saddle to have a tree, as otherwise it is a nice harness & included all the items I addressed when I ordered it.
To help, I got a neoprene pad for the saddle that does include a gullet - made by another Amish shop that included this feature for that very reason.

Also consider getting a shaped breastcollar - the ones that include a Vee to allow for short, thick necks & remove pressure from the windpipe.
Another option is the Eurocollar aka Brollar.

Already planning a shaped breast collar, looked at the eurocollars but since he’s just 4 and not done maturing a breast collar was easier. He’s a lovely little pony but his neck is thick and set low
so there was no question on him needing that

Harness with the tree for a pony, and treeless harness for the elder horse.

Kane8907, why do you suggest a treeless saddle for an older horse?

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Well, I’m late to the party, but I’ll throw my experience with my minis out there. Both my minis are of the more substantial type, broad back, no withers, even when fairly fit, I have tried several harnesses with trees and they get sore. I bought a semi custom harness and had two trainers tell me it fit correctly, and it does look fine, but I
ended up with one very sore mini. Went back to my treeless harness and had no further issues. Just my experience FWIW.