Manufacturer: FreeForm USA
Model: Endurance Saddle Short Back
Category: All Purpose Saddles
Purchase: This is an update of my previous glowing review. I wish there were a way to update or delete previous reviews. I loved this saddle and used it for years. My view has changed. My horse, an Arab, now has back problems. His back is sway now. I can't say that this saddle caused the problems per se as it may not be that simple. But this saddle does NOT distribute weight off the horse's spine and even though the sweat marks appear fine, the fact of the matter is that he now has a pretty sore back and my vet recommends getting another saddle.
Likes: The saddle has held up very well and is certainly comfortable for the rider. It's useful to own as a backup if you own a bunch of horses or if you never know what horse you are going to ride because you borrow other people's horses. It's fine as an extra in the barn. ONLY use this with a LIGHT and FIT rider who can post and stay off the horse's back. NEVER use this saddle for a fat, bouncy, or unbalanced rider. Do not sit the trot in this saddle.
Dislikes: The saddle simply does not distribute weight off the horse's spine. There's just no way it can without a tree. There is no way the pad with it's "channel" can hold 100-150 lbs. off the spine. Now, compared to other treeless saddles, I hear that people really like this brand. And compared to a saddle that is too narrow or otherwise ill-fitting, I would choose this since on an occasional basis it's fine. Ride it like you are in a bareback pa; sit up and stay off the back end. Do NOT put a rider on this who is going to sit sloppy.
Quality: The saddle is well made. After 5 years, it looks exactly the same. There are no compressed spots whatsoever. I bought the Hafpad that came with it and I've used it with shims. The pad is outstanding. One saddle we have has the leather bottom and one has the leather bottom. I don't see any difference in wear; I personally prefer leather and think the resale value is better.
Summary: This is fine if you need a saddle for yourself that you can put on just about any horse. But if you ride the same horse all the time, get a saddle that fits the horse and distributes weight off the back. This saddle is an extra. It's comfortable but for long term use, I would not go with a treeless saddle again. And if the horse has a protruding spine, like a thin horse, I think this saddle would be an extremely bad idea.
Usefulness Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
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