Category: Dressage Saddles
Purchase: I bought this saddle new from Barefoot.com because no other saddle I had tried thus far was comfortable for my big wide Spaniard! I also bought the Grandeur pad, stirrup leathers, suede seat cover and the pretty orange dust cover. In addition I got the soft pommel replacement because past experience has taught me that no gullet is wide enough for my horse! He has very wide, muscular shoulders and no wither.
Likes: Of course the smell of the leather was intoxicating when I opened the box. The leather is so soft! The billets are good quality, soft leather lined with nylon. This saddle puts NO PRESSURE on my horse's scapula or shoulders and best of all, NO BACK PAIN! I was advised over the phone to put the saddle well up on the shoulders. The first couple times I did not put it up far enough (I still had the treed mindset that I couldn't put the saddle over the scapula) and the saddle slid back too far so that it was downhill. When I put it on correctly, which was WAY up on the shoulders, my horse moved it back where his back wanted it, just like I was told. Unlike other treeless saddles I have put on my horse (as well as a draft saddle I tried) this saddle did not shift any more than my previous treed saddle when I mounted. As promised, the saddle put me in the same spot I sit when riding bare back and the stirrups are placed so that my foot is under me. You are put in a correct riding position without being "locked in". The cantle, which has a hard foam insert, is wide, supportive and JUST 'cushy' enough. The seat is surprisingly deep and very soft, supportive and comfy. The entire saddle is stuffed and the entire bottom is lined with fleece and has panels to help keep the unit off the horse's spine. It comes with two sets of adjustable knee rolls that attach with velcro. I love the big ones. They are about the size of the knee rolls on the Innova saddle. It is legal to ride in for dressage shows and looks great on the horse. I wasn't too sure about the stirrup leathers initially. They are kind of an 'Aussie' set up in that they have a sleeve but I love them! They are made from nice, supple leather lined with nylon. The buckle sits right above the stirrup, which actually has a neat appearance AND is less bulk under the thigh. When you are ready to put the saddle up, just push the sleeves up, roll the stirrup to the bottom of them (which is of course not as high as traditional stirrups) and tuck the strap. The Grandeur pad is awesome! It attaches to the saddle's D rings with little velcro straps that essentially make the two 'one'. It is contour shaped to the horse's back and split at the front to allow the pad to drape PERFECTLY without putting ANY pressure on the shoulder/wither area. It has shims to help with alleviating spinal pressure, yet you are still so close to your horse's back. You get the security and back saving benefit of the saddle with the feel of bareback. Although the saddle is well padded, has panels and the pad has shims, you are still close enough to feel your horse. I could really FEEL what lead my horse was on at the canter. The suede seat cover attaches firmly with velcro and gives just enough grip to your pants but still allows you to move unhindered at the posting trot. I LOVE THIS SADDLE!!!!!
Dislikes: The stirrup bars are square rings that will not release the leathers. Safety stirrups of some kind should definitely be used. The flaps are long for me. I have short legs and prefer a shorter flap but they do not get in my way. The billets are very low and quite long, but I suppose that is beneficial if one were riding a huge draft! Due to the length of the flap and the low placement of the billets on the flap, tightening the girth from the saddle is virtually impossible. Another minor thing is that you can't button down the top flap when the knee roll is attached, but when you are mounted (which is when appearance really counts) it is no big deal!
Quality: The quality of leather used on this saddle is superb. It is constructed very well and quite balanced. This is truly the best quality saddle I have ever owned.
Summary: A friend recommended this saddle to me a couple years ago and I kept brushing her off. I wasn't sure I that I really wanted to go treeless and I felt that the Barefoot saddles were a little odd looking. I wish I would have listened. I would have saved quite a bit of time, money and my horse quite a bit of pain! My over all assessment of this saddle is that it is the absolute BEST saddle I have ever owned and I am so glad I bought it! I like it more and more every time I ride in it. I love the fact that I can ride any horse without concern of whether the saddle will fit or not. I will never go back to treed saddles.
Author: Spanish Rider
Usefulness Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
36 reader(s) voted.
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