Model: Treeless Spanish Saddle
Category: Trail Saddles
Purchase: I bought this saddle on e-bay for $447.00. I have a VERY WIDE, low withered Spanish horse that I trail ride and ride in parades and exhibitions. I tried several different saddles, but they all were too narrow and atrophied his back muscles. After giving him a few months off at the orders of his massage therapist in order to correct and rebuild his body, I decided a treeless saddle would be best but I wanted to get one that had panels so there would be clearance for his spine, a feature that a lot of treeless saddles do not have. I looked at the German Star Trakk, but it's price tag was more than what I had in my budget. I was excited then when I saw that Hilason had released their own version of the Spanish Treeless saddle. I thought it was an answer to my prayers. I must admit, I acted hastily by bidding and winning this saddle, even though the seat was a 16" and I need a 17". I figured I could make it work though and considered that it might give me incentive to lose a few extra pounds.
Likes: The saddle was advertised as dark brown; however, it really could be considered black, which was fine with me. Delivery was prompt and I felt the quality of leather was quite good for the price of the saddle. The seat has very good, firm, thick foam padding which in itself was comfortable. The stirrup rings are placed so that the rider's leg is under them correctly.
Dislikes: The top of the cantle leans forward, putting pressure on your lower back where the top lip is pressing in. This is especially uncomfortable when cantering. I will say that the discomfort of this may have been amplified due to the seat being too small for me, but I do not believe that having the larger seat would have altogether remedied this. Another factor I did not like was that since there was absolutely no twist, it amplified the width of my horse's 50 gallon drum-like back, which I suppose is common among treeless saddles. I also did not like the fact that the saddle slid so easily. I did expect this, but I did not feel secure in the saddle. This along with the high pommel and cantle meant that I had to use my truck as a mounting block to mount and dismount. The girth straps were also virtually impossible to tighten while mounted safely because they were under the flap of the saddle. I put my English stirrups/leathers on the saddle and these were impossible to tighten while mounted. Thankfully, my husband was around to help me with this. Another aspect I did not like is that I could not find a saddle pad to fit this saddle. Fortunately I had an old, over sized dressage pad to use for the few short rides I used it for.
Quality: As I mentioned, the leather quality was pretty good for a less than $500.00 saddle and the padding was nice. I will say though, I once paid $166.00 for a saddle that was put together better than this one. The pommel piece, which was made from fiberglass, was not even shaped evenly. It's leather covering was tacked and glued on. It and the cantle were held onto the saddle by three screws, one of which was loose on the cantle. It was loose and kept popping while I rode. The girth straps are attached so that they come down and attach to the girth in a 'V'. This put pressure on the pommel and cantle of the saddle and made the seat bow up a little, which made it uncomfortable for my horse. The saddle itself was too long as well. If my horse did not have such a long back, it would not have fit him at all. The panels, which are attached by industrial velcro and are adjustable, were incredibly thin. When I sat in the saddle they were worthless. My horse felt not only my weight pressing down on his spine, but that of the cantle and pommel as well.
Summary: Hilason's description on e-bay described this saddle as triple comfy and stated that it was good for a wide backed horse. I e-mailed them to advise them that my horse was just that, with a low wither and asked if it indeed would fit him. They did not respond but as I am of a trusting nature I figured that they would not advertise it as such if it wasn't true. When I initially put it on my horse, I saw that the pommel was cut too narrow. I called Hilason and told them my dilemma. Initially the man I spoke with tried to convince me that the pommels were cut wide enough to fit virtually any horse, but when I insisted it would not fit mine he told me I could return the saddle and he would send me another that he had in the warehouse that had a flat pommel, which would be another $80.00. I told him I could just unscrew the three screws, send the pommel to him, and he could send me the flatter one, which would be cheaper. He insisted this was impossible. Well, here is where I made a dumb decision. I took the saddle to my very talented uncle and cousin to see if they could cut the pommel to fit my horse's shoulders, thinking this would solve everything and make the saddle comfortable for my boy. WRONG!! All I did was ensure I could not return the thing! The saddle is slightly molded up front and the holes for the screws are not even. When my cousin cut the pommel and screwed it back down, it did not sit correctly. Further, it did not alleviate the comfort issues for my horse. He protested the saddle still by pinning back his ears when I tightened the cinch. Oh well, hard way to learn a lesson. I just hope this might help someone to learn a lesson I wish I would have remembered. Let the buyer beware and always check the opinions of others!
Usefulness Rating: 2.90909 out of 5.
11 reader(s) voted.
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