Category: Trail Saddles
Purchase: I researched treeless saddles for months before buying my Barefoot Cheyenne from a woman who had purchased it new in December of 2007 but found afterwards that she could no longer ride. The saddle was in like new condition, came with a HAF pad, western fenders, and e-z ride stirrups for $700. It's the newer model with panels. She had originally purchased it from actionridertack.com
Likes: I wanted the lightest saddle possible for trail riding and the Barefoot Cheyenne is it. I love that my saddle weighs 8 lbs without stirrups! It is so easy to lift, and so easy to saddle my horse.
My horse is very short-coupled and finding a saddle that fit his long and low withers but didn't go over his kidneys was extremely difficult. Other saddles caused him pain and he would scoot away from me when I went to saddle him. With the Cheyenne he stands still to be saddled and seems happy with the whole process...even girthing.
The seat is very comfortable, and I can feel my horse a lot more than I would in a regular western or english saddle. At the same time it offers me more security than riding bareback, or riding in most bareback pads.
I also really like the saddle's design; it has a nice western-style pommel but NO HORN! It took some adjusting, but the saddle is now very balanced and puts me in a good position when I ride.
And...the saddle seems to be pretty low-maintenance so far. I've had it roughly six months and ride at least once a week. So far all I've done is wipe dirt off of it with a damp cloth and it looks good as new.
Also...everyone at actionridertack.com has been very very helpful and taken a lot of time helping me through fitting issues etc. They have spent time with me on the phone and sent me long emails...they have reviewed pictures of my horse and the saddle and given me good advice. Without them I would have given up and sold the saddle months ago!
Dislikes: The worst thing about buying this saddle was the frustration and aggravation of getting it to fit both me and my horse. The end results have been worthwhile since I now have a happy pain-free horse, and a very comfortable and light saddle. But it was no fun being in a chair seat position for awhile because the saddle was tipping back until I ordered shims to go in the pad underneath. It was no fun having western fenders that didn't adjust short enough to my leg (and these fenders were barefoot fenders specifically made for the saddle). It was no fun then switching over to english stirrup leathers only to discover how much they rubbed on the inside of my leg right below my knee.
I had a hard time figuring out exactly where to place the saddle on my horse at first, as Barefoot saddles go on a horse further forward than a treed saddle does, because the design of the saddle doesn't interfere with the horse's shoulder movement even when placed further forward.
In short, it took a lot of adjusting to using a treeless saddle.
Additionally, I don't really like the overly long billets. It is nice that different lengths of girth will all work for my horse with the saddle because it's so adjustable, but for the most part the super-long billets just get in the way. I also don't like that the stirrups are attached to the saddle with a D ring, and cannot be freed from the saddle if you're being dragged by the horse - I just don't feel its the safest design. I think it's ok with safety stirrups that will release, but I wish I didn't *have* to provide my own stirrups safety- I like it built right into the saddle.
Also, english leathers rub the saddle and leave marks very quickly.
One more note about adjusting to the Barefoot Saddle world...getting on is a little more intimidating now. I tighten the girth 3 times before I get on, and now know about where the girth needs to be tightened to before I get on. However, the HAF pad underneath the saddle squishes down when you get on, so it can be hard to tighten the girth enough before you're in the saddle. And I am not able to tighten the dressage-style billets without getting off again.
My horse is very 'roly-poly' and all treed saddles tend to slip on him too when I get on, but it is disconcerting to add the girth situation to the roly-poly situation, so now always have someone hold the other stirrup while I get on. I'm not thrilled about always needing help to get on my horse. I am planning on buying and endurance style breast collar to help this situation, and my helpers report they barely hold onto the stirrup when I'm getting on, so I think soon I will have a saddle that I can get into by myself...but new buyers beware...get used to the girthing system before mounting on your own.
Quality: My saddle is well-made overall. The zipper for the pommel piece is sturdy, everything seems fairly uniform on the saddle, the stitching is even. It is well-made. It is not an absolutely gorgeous saddle like a more expensive saddle would be. It's like a good pair of $40 jeans; sturdy, durable, and not nearly as snazzy as the designer pair that costs more.
Summary: This saddle is my dream saddle in that it is light enough for me to lift myself, and my horse loves it! I am just getting through the 'adjustment period' after 6 months of ownership and warn others to expect a bumpy road while they figure the saddle out. Consult knowledgeable people while you adjust...there's a yahoo group called treeless saddles that is helpful.
GREAT saddle for horses with back pain or riders looking for a more comfortable seat. Definitely takes more time and attention and patience to use than your average saddle, but its worth it for me and my horse given our 'special needs' situation.
Author: Curly Pony Girl
Usefulness Rating: 3 out of 5.
3 reader(s) voted.
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