Barefoot Treeless Saddles
Manufacturer: Barefoot Treeless Saddles
Category: Trail Saddles
Purchase: Our saddles were made in Germany and purchased form the U.S. Importer, Barefoot Saddles, USA. in Washington state for $830.00 including shipping.
We are what has been termed "extreme trail riders" by those few daring souls who have occasionally tagged along with us. We put on lots of miles in a day traveling through extremely difficult mountain terrain and very seldom at a walk.
What we were looking for was a saddle that would make the challenge of this type of riding easier on our horses. We ask a lot of our animals whether it's jumping obstacles, lunging up steep creek banks, diving off boulders, or snaking through heavy old growth forest, it's all in a days work for our animals. Rigid tree saddles were binding our horses up and limiting their movement. They were also killing our bottoms which was taking some of the fun out of our days.
Likes: This saddle is not just a light weight, bareback pad type of affair. It's a real saddle that seems to be up to the challenges we put one through.
My newest young horse has always been a little choppy in his gaits, but I got used to them. When it came to a lope or canter though he would take a few rough strides and then, if I insisted on more, the fight was on. He was downright surly about it. Since his saddle "fit" him so beautifully, by all conventional means of measure, I figured he was just young and immature and would grow out of this attitude as he gained experience and coordination.
When I first put my Bareback Arizona on him I was delighted with how comfortable it was for me. There was no "break in" period where your bottom adjusts to the new shape of the seat. This brought a smile to my cheeks on both ends!
However, as happy as I was with it's comfort for me, that was nothing compared to how my horse felt. He was obviously thrilled with the change. His gaits instantly became free, flowing, fun, and incredibly powerful. When I asked for more speed he wrung his tail for an instant as he kicked it up a notch. Then the incredible thing happened. Instead of pitching into the customary fight I expected, he relaxed and enjoyed the run! That spoke volumes. Obviously his old saddle did not fit as well as the "experts" had said. He had been in pain and was telling me the only way he could. With the Barefoot Saddle he was truly comfortable and he felt like celebrating. This saddle moved completely with him. There was no resistance of any kind. He shocked me when, as we were standing and talking, he suddenly flexed completely around my leg and bit a horsefly off his rump! It was as though he wasn't saddled at all!
I did have one fight with my horse that day, when we were almost back to the trail head. He was having so much fun that he didn't want to quit. That's when I discovered how incredibly secure this saddle is. I'm no expert at riding out a bucking horse. As he launched I cringed, anticipating a possible painful landing. Instead, with no hard saddle tree to meet my bottom, and the no slip texture of the nubuc leather, I never budged. After that first hop I dared him to give it his best shot! When he was done we went peacefully back to the trailer.
Dislikes: I'm thinking...Hold on...
Give me a minute...I'm still thinking...!
If I had to come up with something, I'd say that at first glance, when it first came out of the box and was perched on the railing it looked a little flat and funny. That's because the saddle hadn't conformed at all yet to the shapes it was asked to fit. As soon as it was on the horse under my contours and weight, it developed the customary look of a dished seat. While I can't exactly say that I didn't like it, I now have to say that it has taken on a very personal shape and fit, and I love it!
I guess I'm still looking for something that I really don't like about my Barefoot Arizona.
Quality: I have been well pleased with the quality and construction of the saddle. We've all heard and read (especially on this web-site) of treeless saddles that were poorly built, kind of hap-hazard or not square with the world. Ordering our first Bareback Arizona was kind of a leap of faith. After our first weekend with one we immediately ordered a second Barefoot Arizona when we got home.
We had absolutely no experience with nubuc leather, so that was one of those "maybe we'll like it" things. Now we know that there is no other leather that would allow a saddle to be this flexible and comfortable.
The fenders are made of conventional, high quality saddle leather and are a little wider than the norm. For once I have a saddle that actually keeps my jeans from getting full of horse sweat, and trail dirt! Good idea!
Summary: If you are really serious about what is good for your horse, what is comfortable for both horse and rider, what really fits the horse through all of their flexing and motion and allows the horse to move his pure and natural way, this is the saddle that will exceed your wildest dreams.
Usefulness Rating: 3 out of 5.
3 reader(s) voted.
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