Manufacturer: Hilason Treeless Saddle
Model: Barrel/Show/Trail, 16" (15" regularly)
Category: Barrel Saddles
Purchase: Bought off Ebay.ca for a grand total of $682 Canadian dollars from Leathergemcanada. Shipping was $47, supposedly coming from Missauga, Ont. with NO customs for Canadian Residents (We received a bill from FedEx for customs fees three weeks after receiving the saddle). The saddle is the light-oil, black-suede seat with lots of silver, in a 16" size(equivalent of 15" western saddle). Intention was for use in barrel racing.
Likes: I liked the close contact feel since it is treeless. It is very similar to riding a horse in a thick felt saddle pad. The seat is very padded and comfortable, and really absorbs shock between you and the horse. The stirrup design, while odd-looking, is very efficient- the two pieces allow the stirrup to twist as if it's already been broken in. Downside to this may be for someone who has very short legs.
Dislikes: Right off the bat, coming out of the box, it smelled weird. It was a harsh, gross smell, like some kind of lacquer or something. I had a thought that this might be from the glue they are purported to use in the suede and fleece. Secondly, coming out of the box, the saddle seat/skirts were as flat as a board, and very inflexible. The saddle looked more suited to a tar barrel than to a horse, though it probably would have fit on a rotund Draft horse. We fixed this problem by wrapping bungees around it on a saddle rack for a few days- this caused it to begin to shape. It still stuck out off the rear skirts from the horse, and it was not stable at all for mounting, even with the girth tight, it rolled sideways. A tacky pad may fix that problem. It is in no way a saddle that will improve your equitation. Your legs tend to swing forward even when you are trying to hold them back under you. And then there was that funny smell.
Quality: The fleece is good, the hardware seems all right, the leather is pretty average and the silver is just nickel or something. Cheap, no lustre. The suede is heavy-duty, and the pommel and cantle seem to be attached securely enough. There is a lot of shock absorption in the seat due to the stiffness of the material. The tooling on the leather is pretty weak and shallow-looking. Although, the general lesser quality of the materials weren't important at the time, since you don't have time to look at superficial details of a saddle in a barrel race.
Summary: Bottom line, we got rid of it. There was an incident when a horse spooked at the neighbor's dogs and the saddle simply rolled off, rider hit the dirt, and it was decided it didn't fit the horses like a glove well enough to take the risk in barrel racing. I imagine it would take a good season of hard riding to really get the saddle broke in properly. It is not a saddle I would recommend for beginners or people with poor balance, since it is very much like riding bareback. I'm sure it would be fine for a fairly smooth pleasure-type horse for ring riding or low-key trails, but I would not consider it suitable for barrel racing or training or spooky horses. It is simply not stable enough on the horse's back, even with a chestplate and a rear girth, to handle sudden agile movements sideways or in sharp turns. I was also not impressed with the Customs bill showing up three weeks later, but it was not worth pushing a dispute. The smelly Hilason saddle is gone, and we are buying a new Tex Tan Flex Tacky barrel saddle, which fits our impossible-to-fit horse like a glove.
Author: Sarah from MacFarlane Show Horses
Usefulness Rating: 4.77273 out of 5.
22 reader(s) voted.
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