Posts Tagged ‘freeform

Sponsor Welcome: Saddle Up

saddle upWe’re very excited to welcome our new sponsor, Saddle Up! You might remember that we were first introduced to Saddle Up when my mom and I purchased treeless saddles from them over the summer.

The owner of Saddle Up, Paulita Neff, was amazing to work with. She answered my MANY e-mails with questions about the saddles and what would work best for Boomerang and I. In the end I came away with the Freeform Classic BTF Treeless Saddle, which fits Boomerang amazingly well.

Having been someone who really didn’t know anything about treeless saddles before this experience I am now convinced this is the only type of saddle that I will ever own again. Not only can I use it on any horse I have from here on out, but I have never had a more comfortable ride. They aren’t just for endurance riders either! I’ve been using mine in mounted games, cross country, versatility competitions, and even jumping in it.

treeless saddle

We are thrilled to have Saddle Up as one of our sponsors, and we hope you’ll check out their website and facebook page to learn more about treeless saddles.

boomerang in treeless saddle

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Treeless Saddles & Gymkhana Events

I’ve had the SAME english saddle since I was about 14. That’s 13 years for anyone counting. Most people would have upgraded long ago, but since I’ve been riding ponies since I was 5 (and still do) the saddle was a good fit for them. For me though? Not so much.

My 13 year old english saddle

Only, I didn’t really notice how ill-fitting my saddle was until recently. I didn’t know that it could be better – for me & my ponies. The soreness in my legs after a weekend competing – mostly due to a saddle that was too small for my 5’10” frame.

I honestly never really thought much about upgrading my current saddle until after the Extreme Cowboy race competition with Boomerang this winter. Since we had begun doing more western type maneuvers I began to really notice how much my current english saddle was throwing me forward. I felt the need to sit deeper (to stay on through Boomer’s super spins), but when we broke to the canter my saddle pushed me into a two-point position.

I didn’t really want a western saddle, because although what I do is more akin to western speed sports, I still like to occasionally do dressage, or some jumping. And I later learned that Boomerang is too short backed to take an adult sized western saddle anyway. Getting another (larger) english saddle would work, but I would still be thrown forward.

Freeform Classic BTF Treeless Saddle from Saddle Up

But I learned there was another option. Treeless. I actually would have never known what a treeless saddle was if it wasn’t for my facebook friend, Kali from Pony Pros. She runs a program in Oregon for kids and adults where all of the horses are ridden bitless and in treeless saddles.

If you are unfamiliar with treeless saddles they are basically the same as an english (or western) saddle but they do not have a rigid tree inside of them. I did a lot of research into them before hand. I learned about the importance of making sure the treeless saddles do not rest on the horses’ spine, I looked at tons of different manufacturers, I even drove Boomerang to Delaware to test out the closest treeless saddle I could find. Treeless saddles are big with endurance riders as they are not only comfortable for the rider, but they also free up the horses’ movement – but in my area many tack shops didn’t even know what I was talking about when I asked if they carried treeless saddles.

I finally narrowed down my search to an online shop located in Virginia (about as close as I could get to Pennsylvania). For the next few weeks I emailed back and forth with Paulita Neff from Saddle Up about what I was looking for, the features I needed, and the issue I had with my short backed pony, and my extremely tall self (I’m really too tall to be riding these 13 hand ponies).

I finally decided on the Freeform Classic BTF.

When it arrived a few weeks later, admittedly I had some doubts. Is a treeless saddle really going to stay on my pony’s back when I lean to pick objects off the ground during a mounted games competition? Am I going to like it? Is it really worth spending that much money on a saddle?

Boomerang competeing in his new treeless saddle

The interesting thing about the Freeform saddles is that not only can you change the actual seat position, but you can also change where the stirrups hang from – so you can make the entire seat totally customizable to you. It took me a few days of riding in the saddle and making adjustments to the position of things to get it to the right fit to me. I ultimately ended up putting my seat as far back as I could (I’d actually prefer it a little further back, so the saddle would fit my leg better – but because my pony is so short backed I can’t do this, the perils of riding a pony when you are tall), and I placed my stirrups a little more forward to have a more “western” seat in the saddle.

Boomerang if very happy in his new treeless saddle

After a few rides, and many adjustments, I was hooked. I felt like I was riding on a pillow. Transitioning back to my old english saddle made me feel like I was riding on a board – I couldn’t believe I had actually spent 13 years in that thing. And after ordering a pony sized dressage girth for Boomerang (the smaller the girth the more stable it makes the saddle), leaning off to pick objects off the ground was no problem. And I had no slipping of my saddle.

Comfort Dressage Girth from Just for Ponies

I also picked up a new pair of stirrups, as the leathers are somewhat wider and didn’t fit my conventional safety stirrups (a must for a saddle that doesn’t have stirrup bars). These from HorseLoverz fit perfectly, and I love the fact that they sit at a better position to easily find them at a flat out gallop (after vaulting onto your pony at a games competition of course).

Coronet Double Safety Irons from HorseLoverz

One of the best parts about the new saddle is that Boomerang’s spins have gotten quicker and faster. The treeless saddle has freed up his shoulders and he is much more agile. My mom even tried it out on Blitz and he began picking up his once sticky right lead immediately (because his shoulder had freer movement).

Over the weekend we took the ponies to their very first gymkhana event. Here’s a short little video to show how it went:

The ponies were fantastic and I felt really secure in my new saddle. And after a day of being in my saddle I didn’t have a single sore muscle or sore spot anywhere – due to my super comfy new saddle.

I’m excited to test it out in the mounted games arena as well as on the trail too (although we have practiced some gaming in it at home). Here’s a few shots from our day at the gymkhana…

Boomerang was very well behaved considering all the commotion around, and the fact that the horse flies were eating him alive. It’s great to be able to expose the ponies to so many different things, it makes them so versatile.

Stay tuned, because Sunday was a day of firsts for Boomerang and Blitz, as we also took them swimming for the first time! Pictures are coming soon!

 

Special thanks to Paulita from Saddle Up for being so patient with me as I asked a million questions about treeless saddles!

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