Category: All Purpose Saddles
Purchase: I purchased the Freeform Classic from ActionRiderTack.com. It was around $1500, and well worth the money. My morgan is rather mutton withered and wide through the spine, and he has thus been extremely difficult to fit in a saddle. Even the custom made dressage saddle I had for him didn't work all that well. I eventually bought a Torsion saddle, but I didn't care for the balance of it or the stirrup position, which is not adjustable. When I heard about the Freeform, I asked Darolyn Butler, an elite level endurance rider who rides treeless, if she knew about them. She told me she did indeed, as she was riding in one herself now! That was good enough for me.
Likes: This is the first treeless saddle that I've ridden in that feels like a "normal" saddle. The foam-injected seat is extremely comfortable and provides great support (good for both the horse and the rider) and a correct position. The pommel is not too high, so it doesn't get in the way when you post (that was a problem for me with the Sensation saddle). The knee rolls are also extremely well placed and designed -- they help you out when you're going down a really steep hill, or when you otherwise need them, but they generally feel "not there", which is how it should be. And of course, the brilliant "swap-able" seats that allow you to put different sized seats on the same saddle base are great, as is the fact that you can move the stirrup leathers as far forward or back as you want them. The saddle is also very lightweight, so nice when you are lifting it on and off. I have not found that I need a breast collar with the saddle, but I do not mount from the ground. I also think the pad I have (made by a company called Christ) helps the saddle stay in place very well.
Dislikes: The leather is perhaps too fine -- seems like it can get damaged, scratched, etc. fairly easily, so I feel I need to be especially careful with it. It got scuffed under the leathers almost immediately. If your horse has high withers, you will need special padding. Darolyn uses the dressage pad made by Supra Core for horses like that and says it works very well. I recommend using some kind of safety stirrup with these saddles, as there is no way for the leathers to pull loose, should your foot get hung up. That is a serious safety issue that I hope they will address somehow in the future. You also have to be careful about getting the leathers and the seat velcroed on straight and evenly. If they are off a bit, it can really affect your balance. Best to have a friend check you front and back from the ground once you are mounted, if you are not sure. Nonetheless, I HIGHLY recommend this saddle.
Quality: Overall I think the construction and quality are excellent. My only qualm with it on that front is the leather, which could be "tougher" in my book. I wonder about the durability in that regard.
Summary: I know how hard Darolyn rides, and if she recommends this saddle, I know it is good for the horse. That is always my number one concern. However, to find a saddle that is great for the horse and feels like a dream for the rider -- it doesn't get much better than that!
Usefulness Rating: 2.33333 out of 5.
9 reader(s) voted.
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