Fit is Everything - Infinitely Adjustable for Optimal Comfort & Performance!

Tip 8: Saddle Tree Angle - Western Saddles

Did you know…Saddle Trees come in either: Narrow, Medium or Wide?
Ask yourself… Did you know that those designations refer both to the width of the tree and the angle of the tree?
Whether you answered yes or no, Schleese is offering you further information on the importance of the proper tree angle to prevent long-term damage to your horse. Please watch this informative video for some saddle fit tips on “Tree Angle”!

Did you know…Saddle Trees come in either: Narrow, Medium or Wide?

Ask yourself…
Did you know that those designations refer both to the width of the tree and the angle of the tree?

Whether you answered yes or no, Schleese is offering you further information on the importance of the proper tree angle to prevent long-term damage to your horse. Please watch this informative video for some saddle fit tips on “Tree Angle”!

Learn the importance of a Saddle’s Tree Angle Sign Up My horse will thank me!

Many of us are aware that trees come in narrow, medium, or wide, but how many of us know that those designations refer both to the width of the tree (more about that in Saddle Fit Tip #9) and to the angle of the tree?

In previous Saddle Fit Tips, we learned why it is so important that the saddle stay behind the horse’s shoulder. If it does not, and constantly moves forward, the tree points of the saddle will drive into the horse’s shoulders, first producing a buildup of scar tissue on his scapula, and then chipping away cartilage and bone. This is irreversible long-term damage, and can lead to persistent unsoundness and the premature retirement of the horse.

What does the tree angle have to do with all of this? In order to avoid this kind of damage, it is crucial that the angle of the tree be adjusted to match the angle of the horse’s shoulder. Think of two sliding doors. If they are properly aligned, one will slide freely past the other. But if they are not, one will jam into the other. It is the same with your horse’s shoulders and the angle of his saddle’s tree. As the horse moves, his shoulder rotates upward and backwards, as we learned in Saddle Fit Tip #2. If your saddle’s tree angle does not match the angle of your horse’s shoulder, his shoulders will be unable to rotate freely under the saddle, compromising his movement, sometimes severely. At the very least, a saddle with a tree angle that is not correctly adjusted is extremely uncomfortable for your horse. At worst, it can lead to irreversible long-term damage.

How do saddle fitters determine if the tree angle of your horse’s saddle matches the angle of his shoulder? They use the Sprenger gauge to measure the horse’s shoulder angle. They put the Sprenger behind the shoulder blade, and set it so that the upper arm of the device is parallel to the angle of the horse’s scapula. Then they adjust the tree of the saddle so that the tree angle matches that of the horse’s shoulder.

How can you tell if the tree angle on your saddle is correct for your horse? Put your saddle on your horse without a saddle blanket. Then check if the angle of the piping on the saddle matches the angle of your horse’s shoulder. If it does, the angle of your saddle’s tree is correctly adjusted for your horse (assuming you have an adjustable saddle tree).

If you’re still uncertain if the angle of your saddle’s tree is correct for your horse, observe his behaviour under saddle. If the tree angle is too wide, there may be clearance on the top of your horse’s withers, but the saddle will pinch the sides of his withers. It will also hit the reflex point (cranial nerve 11) that restricts movement in his shoulders and makes him unwilling or unable to move freely forward. The horse will raise his head or hollow his back, or exhibit other forms of resistance until the reflex point/nerve becomes numb. If your horse behaves in this manner, it may be because the tree angle of your saddle is incorrect for him. It is important to understand that your horse doesn’t want to be bad, but if the saddle keeps hitting that reflex point, he almost has no choice: he cannot engage the muscles you’re asking him to engage. He cannot do what you’re asking him to do, and this can lead to unnecessary fights between horse and rider.

Put the saddle on your horse without a saddle blanket. Then check if the angle of the bars matches the angle of your horse’s shoulder. If it does, the angle of your saddle’s tree is correctly adjusted for your horse.

Find an event near you

Rider
Testimonials

Ever since sitting in my new Schleese Triumph saddle for the first time in March 2018 I've wanted to write a testimonial of the  significant changes that have taken place in my riding and how my horses are going. I felt the changes immediately when I test rode the Triumph. Both of my horses I mainly ride are 14.1 and 14.3 hands, have short backs and small saddle support areas. I was thrilled to know there was a saddle that fit us all. So many dressage saddles I saw advertised were designed for large, wide backs which wasn't going to work for my Spanish Barbs. Think small Lusitano type build. Within the first 5 minutes, literally, of riding in my new Triumph, my horses back came up right under my seat, his trot easily became loftier and lighter than ever before. For me, I realized in another 5 minutes, I could focus more on my horse now and not on trying to retain a certain position. Unbeknownst to me I had been using a lot of focus on my position and where all my body parts needed to be. I have struggled to hold my leg underneath me for as long as I can remember, but a few laps around the arena I didn't have to even think about my position any longer and could just focus on how my horse felt. I just fell into place. You can probably imagine how happy that made my horse! Happy horse, happy human! Over the last 6 weeks I have made such progress in my development as a rider  and my horse has progressed just as quickly. It has given me confidence which has filtered over to my horses. This last week I spent 4 days away taking lessons with an international Working Equitation judge and competed in my first Working Equitation show. I felt like I have never ridden so well and my horse has never been so on the aids and happy in his work. I can honestly say I believe the changes all have to do with my new saddle. Both physical and mental. I have to mention as well that I had glamour options of a tooled half moon and carmel colored welting added which I love! The Schleese saddle pad which came with my saddle is my favorite pad and I plan on ordering more. The saddle is a piece of art in my opinion. I ride proudly in it. I have now convinced two of my students to attend fitting clinics this month. I am a believer of Schleese and all that the company has to offer. Attached is a photo of myself and my horse Morado from our recent lesson trip. Thank you for providing such a great product!

— Stephanie Lockhart, Johnson, VT

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

Archives

Categories

Meta