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Treeless and Flex-Tree English style saddles

I have about 30 tabs open and have been reading for days, but unfortunately most of the links are too old and the company is either out of business (especially the really great ones) or the link is not found, so I thought I’d start a new thread to get recommendations on brands that are doing a more spine supportive saddle. It doesn’t have to be a ‘dressage’ saddle, but I’d rather not have it look too Western. COMFORT for both horse and RIDER is what I’m looking for.

And for the naysayers (and we all know you’re out there) we already know your thoughts on the subject. Just looking for people with experience with these types of saddles, PLEASE. ;D


Have you looked at or considered DP? Not all of their saddles are show legal and are aimed toward Baroque/working equitation, but they are very comfortable and supportive.

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Can you tell me what DP stands for?

a couple years ago i bought a Sarah Sanders flextree endurance saddle. I can use it on a few of my medium-sized horses. The one i got had these pommel thingies that make it look pretty western-y, though it can be made without them. I am not big around so i fit in there fine, it cradles me and feels really secure on some fairly rough uppy/downy trails. My two friends who all have bigger butts have nothing but complaints about this saddle though…
One of the outstanding features of this saddle is that it has it’s own saddlepad built in. The girth system works really well. When i use it, it’s always with a breast collar and a crupper. It never rocks or slides. My dressage mare does not go well in it. Her shoulder is not very … ‘moderate’.

I have a Sensation English Trail. It’s lightweight, comfortable and very secure. I like the close contact feel and the fact that Sensation has a stirrup attachment that helps disburse the rider’s weight through the flap.

I use a Saddleright pad underneath, which keeps my girl comfortable. You can’t use it without a treeless saddle pad.

I’ve also had a Freeform Classic saddle, which I loved on my TB, but which felt like too much bulk between me and my mare. She’s a draft x and she is a big, wide girl. I think that while a treeless saddle may “fit” many horses, how it fits depends a lot on your horse’s build. I also had a Ghost for awhile, but always felt a bit perched. Those saddles do settle over time, but mine never felt close contact enough for me.

Sensation is really backed up on orders right now as they closed down during Covid. I bought mine from someone on the Sensation Facebook Group.



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Does Orthoflex count as a flex tree? I have ridden in a few of those and quite liked them. I also had a few treeless saddles come with training horses…and I wasn’t as big a fan, but I think it was because the horses were wide, and the lack of tree made it harder for my legs to hang the way I was used to.

Take a look at the Ansur Excel. It is in amazing saddle. Ansur has come a long way from their original model. It has the look and feel of a treed saddle, very supportive, yet flexible. I can’t say enough good things about it.

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I have an Ansur Excel I’m toying with selling - DM me if interested.

Fantastic saddle!

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Of the names that keep coming up …

Bob Marshall

And, of course, the one that got the best comments - Abetta - who is no longer in business.

If I were designing, it would be a lot like the “Little John” pad, but with the spinal area already cut out, but the girth strap would not go all the way around the horse, but would be connected to the sides - with stirrups and a loop at the top that might have a flexible moulding to keep it’s shape.

So is anyone already making something like that? I can see it in my mind … now I need to find it!

What do the endurance riders ride in?


Can you link to the Little John pad? I googled it and can’t find anything.

Whoops - I wrote Little John! It’s Little Joe.

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Sweet mercy… Never seen the dp before… that sheepskin stuff is dreamy.

Oh my dp sheepskin looks veeery nice

Their stuff is really fantastic! I have a girth and a Wels cavesson by them and they are both gorgeous and hardy.

Custom Saddlery has started this new brand called Avian that’s treeless I think? People at my old barn are loving the saddles. I’m not a huge Custom fan but the new brand seems to be gaining a fan base.