Model: HSTW101 Round skirt/black smooth seat
Category: Barrel Saddles
Purchase: I went online and purchased my treeless Barrel saddle from Hilason Saddlery out of TX direct from them, but perhaps could have saved a few bucks on eBay. I paid 599.00 plus about 42.00 to ship to Michigans' Upper Peninsula. I tested Bob Marshalls' saddles as well, years back and vowed when I got the money I would purchase one myself because the whole theory behind the treeless made perfect sense. Hilason just happen to be in business and gave me a choice.
Likes: Out-of-the-box you get that pleasing new-saddle leather smell of course, and the overall detail that you miss when viewing on the internet was very pleasing and put my anxiety to rest. Stitching, knotting, leather, stamping, fittings, thickness of wool, and uniform leather thickness and color, all real good quality. Easy to change out the nylon to leather if you chose to. The stirrup leathers have that 'natural turn' built into them already. Very light weight, 24 1/2 pounds! About 15 pounds lighter on the avg. than any of my other saddles. Price is great!
Dislikes: Longer stirrup leathers! My long 32" inseam maxed out the pre-punched holes, but I had just room enough to punch the extra (1) I needed + another. Rigging is hung VERY low (about 5" avg. LOWER than my conventional in-skirt rigging), drastically changing my leg swing range from hip joint to all the way down to my knee! I felt a bit trapped, lacking the ability to push my leg out to the front. Stirrup buckles seem awkward, like they should be toward the horse? Production line units usually have some flaws of some kind, so its a personal call if you are willing accept the small stuff and take a chance the next one you order will be an improvement or..worse. Shipping can be $pendy.
Quality: VERY slight crookedness of the fork in relation to the cantle and center of the seat. Stand it on its horn and again on its cantle end and "sight" the centerline and make sure you don't have a crookedness so bad it will sore your horse and you. A bit of glue over-run on the edge of the wool. Overall, good quality construction and it looks nice. Anything off a production line will have its slight imperfections-my purchase didn't have any glaring flaws worthy of sending back and taking a chance on the next one.
Summary: Going Treeless is a drastic change for us riders (I run speed events). You have to really separate and understand the treeless characteristic differences from the traditional rigid treed saddles, and analyze and test ride thoroughly. Using different muscles, I was sore after my first 2 test rides because of the position changes, but have since settled right into it, my cues to my horse are clear and it fits and allows my barrel mares shoulder freedom they didn't have before!
Usefulness Rating: 0 out of 5.
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