Customers who start looking for saddles often have just two measurements in mind- the size of seat and the width of the tree…… and this is often when things come unstuck!
A saddle tree width relates to the size and shape of the saddle at the head the part that must clear the wither cap- be it a broad well muscled flat wither or a narrow high wither that tree width must allow 3 to 4 fingers clearance at the top of the wither and 2 to 3 at the sides of the wither ( often saddles far too tight) and then the saddle shape of the tree points is the ANGLE and this is oft the missed part, In order for the horse to rotate his shoulder backwards unimpeded by the tree the saddle angle MUST match the angle of the shoulder! If it does not ie too wide or too steep and narrow then the shoulder cannot function correctly and damage can occur to both the cartilage at the scapular and the trapezius muscles and longissimus junction below the wither.
This tree angle is too wide- pen is showing correct shoulder angle- this horse has pressure at the top of the tree where the point starts and result will be pain and deterioration of both muscle and horses way of going- Horse will likely move hollow head up- muscles under neck will enlarge and hind end will not step up and under. Long term indicators could be kissing spines, sacroilliac pain, hind limb problems.
Here the tree angle is too narrow at top and too wide at bottom of tree points
Then there is of course the length of the tree points and the shape of the tree rails before we even consider panel design……. that’s for another time!
Article kindly provided by Karen Lewis