About Freeform Saddles
- Adjustable Stirrup Attachment
- Girthing Options
- Detachable Seat and Seat Options
- Sizing and Fitting
- Technical Specifications
- Features and Options
- Caring for Your Freeform Saddle
Freeform is the latest revolution in treeless saddles. The Freeform saddle is a versatile saddle for the serious rider, whether you ride endurance, trail, jumping or dressage, made in Italy by craftsmen who have over a decade’s experience and extensive consultation with leading equestrians.
Freeform saddles combine the look and style of a conventional saddle with the lightness and flexibility of being treeless. This is due to the technology of foam injection molding. As a result of this process the saddle is suitable for horses with a wide variety of shapes. This flexibility minimizes interference with the horse’s natural gaits and offers a comfortable, more balanced ride than a traditional saddle.
The Freeform saddle is made of two parts: the saddle base and the detachable seat. Other features include an adjustable stirrup attachment, standard or forward girthing and a wide choice of leather and colors. The breathable foam core makes the saddle light weight. See technical details and more information below. The flexibility of these awesome saddles allows the horse complete unrestricted freedom of movement, encouraging movement as nature intended, while providing a close-contact feel for the rider. There is excellent weight distribution with all the Freeform saddles. This gives the horse and rider a comfortable, balanced riding experience.
The incorporation of “flexi-front” technology, as detailed below, into the front of the seat aids in wither clearance and adjusts automatically with both the movement and shape of the horse.
These are wonderful saddles you will use for years to come on many different horses if you so choose.
The Freeform saddle has been used by winners of the Tevis over the past few years. You too will be a winner in your horse’s eye when you’re riding in a Freeform saddle.
We recommend using Haf padswith all our Freeform saddles.
The Freeform’s detachable seat has a high tensile aluminum bar incorporated into the front of the seat to aid in wither clearance. This bar is very lightweight but is incredibly flexible. It will automatically adjust both with the movement and shape of your horse. Therefore, the Freeform will act as a totally tree free saddle as it will be flexible throughout its entirety, but it will not totally collapse in the pommel arch through use. When transferring your saddle from a very wide bodied horse to a narrow horse, just remove the detachable seat, gently squeeze the pommel arch together, and then re-affix the seat to your saddle base. The pommel will automatically adjust to the shape of the horse.
The stirrup attachment on the Freeform Saddles is completely adjustable. This adjustable stirrup attachment is designed to allow different stirrup positions, from jumping position to classical dressage seat. Having an adjustable stirrup attachment allows each individual rider to adjust their stirrup placement so they do not have to fight the forces of nature, allowing each rider to sit easily in the natural hip-shoulder-heel alignment.
The girth straps on the Freeform Saddles are made from leather-faced coated nylon. The girth straps are stitched on a “Y” system to help make the saddle more secure and spread the pressure of the rider over the whole of the saddle. This design also ensures that the stirrup and girthing arrangement do not attach at the same point, thereby preventing pressure from radiating at one point on the horse’s back. The girth straps on the Freeform Saddles are English style billets that accept an English dressage girth with two billets.
The seat of a Freeform saddle can be completely removed and is interchangeable with different sizes. This allows a horse to be ridden in one saddle with different riders of different sizes. For example an adult family member might purchase a 17″ Freeform saddle along with an extra 15″ seat for a son or daughter to use.
Seat Sizes: 15 – 19 inches (half inch increments)
Ten Different Seat Styles
Sympanova is the standard underlay on Freeform saddles. Available options are wool fleece lining or black, brown, burgundy or newmarket brown leather.
Shown in the picture from top to bottom: leather lining, wool fleece lining (special order), blue sympanova lining (standard).
Sizing and Fitting
Sizing for the Rider
Saddle fit for the rider is equally important as saddle fit for the horse. The primary consideration for the rider of a treeless saddle is the seat size.
The Freeform Saddles are available in seat size 15” – 19” [English saddle seat sizing].
The following is a guide to help you choose the correct seat size of your new Freeform Saddle.
How To Measure Yourself for your Freeform Saddle
It may be beneficial to have someone help you.
Sit on a stool or chair so your thigh lies parallel to the ground. Use a tape measure to measure the length of your upper leg from the back edge of your buttock to the point of knee (see diagram below).
From the chart below, check your measurement against those in the left column and match up to the seat sizes in the right column.
22” 16 ½”
24” 17 ½”
Over 24” 18”
Go for the next size up if:
You like a roomy seat.
You have a horse with a dippy or sway back.
Important! These are guidelines only!
Sizing for the Horse
As a Freeform Saddle has no tree and is totally flexible the saddle shapes itself to each individual horse. However, the following are some guidelines:
When placing a Freeform saddle on your horse place the saddle seat so that you will be sitting in the saddle seat in the same place you would be sitting if you were riding bareback.
This is the horse’s center of motion and where your horse can best support your weight. [see diagram below]
This is also the most comfortable area for the rider.
Because there is no tree to impede the horse’s shoulder movement it does not matter if the saddles panels touch or lay over the horse’s shoulder.
Wither clearance – is necessary but does not need to be the usual 2-3 fingers we have become used to. So long as you can slip a finger in under the pommel, this is usually sufficient.
High withered horses are the most difficult to fit and often require careful shimming/padding in the saddle pad to allow sufficient clearance. Please ask your Freeform dealer for help with pad selection and shimming options.
Please call Saddle Up for help with pad selection and shimming options.
Your Freeform dealer, Saddle Up, can show you the simple steps to take to ensure correct placement and fitting for your horse as well as advise the correct seat size for the rider.
Optional Panels Available
Freeform panels help provide even pressure distribution and good clearance over the spine. These panels are for the models ‘Elite’, ‘Liberty’, ‘Classic’ and ‘DKR’– the Enduro saddles have a similar, but shorter panel.
Professional industrial strength Velcro attaches the panels safely to the saddle, with suede leather around the panels for appearance and longevity. Panels open easily for customization or replacement of inserted materials.
Easy panel adjustment for various horses’ conformations.
Features and Options
Often when someone is considering changing from something they are used to, like a saddle with a tree, to an unknown, like a saddle without a tree they have many questions. We have tried to answer many of those questions here. If you have other questions, please feel free to call Saddle Up.
Why should I consider riding a treeless saddle? What is wrong with a tree?
The Freeform Saddles, designed without a tree, are designed to be extremely flexible, comfortable and secure. The flexibility of the Freeform Saddles minimizes interference with the horse’s natural gaits and allows full freedom of movement without restriction. As a rider, you will have fuller contact with your horse’s motion, giving you more “feel” than you can achieve with a traditional treed saddle.
If there is no solid tree between my seat and my horse’s back, am I not sitting directly on the horse’s spine?
No. The seat bones of the rider are positioned left and right of the horse’s vertebrae, so your weight is well distributed. Additionally, Freeform’s foam injection molding technology protects both your horse and you from direct pressure points.
Where should my Freeform saddle be placed on my horse?
When riding in a Freeform Saddle you want your seat to be in the spot where you would naturally sit when riding bareback. Since the Freeform Saddles are flexible and conform to the shape of your horse, the saddle will not be putting undue pressure on the shoulder and will not limit movement of your horse’s shoulders. Do not be concerned if the panel is close to, touching, or even on top of the scapula. There is nothing to impede your horses shoulder movement and the scapula will just move smoothly under the panel.
Will I have to ride differently or sit in my Freeform saddle differently than I would my treed saddle?
When you sit in a Freeform saddle you will sit totally around the natural shape of your horse. Initially you may feel some stretching of the muscles of your inner thighs but they will soon adjust. The Freeform Saddles have an adjustable stirrup attachment designed to allow different stirrup positions from jumping position to a classical dressage seat. This allows you to position your stirrups so you may sit easily in a natural hip-shoulder-heel alignment.
How will my Freeform Saddle feel to my horse?
Your horse will be delighted. He will be moving much more freely, especially in the shoulders, and will generally be moving with a bigger stride. The design of the Freeform Saddles moves with the contours of your horse’s back in motion. The “Y” girthing system distributes your weight and pressure over the whole of the saddle. Since the Freeform Saddles conform to the shape of your horse’s back whether at rest or in motion, there is no stress to your horse and he will be happy.
What fittings and accessories can I use with my Freeform Saddle?
The Freeform Saddles are equipped with dressage billet straps so you can use any regular dressage girth. The front D-rings provide for the use of a standard breast collar. Dressage style stirrup leathers are available to match your Freeform Saddle. The stirrup leathers are a single piece of leather and attach with a buckle at the stirrup bar. This eliminates bulk under your thigh, greatly increasing your comfort and contact with your horse.
Caring for Your Freeform Saddle
Basic Leather Care:
Routine cleaning is recommended to aid in the longevity of your Freeform saddle. A complete cleaning twice a year, followed by a conditioner and protectant, will maintain the finish and increase durability.
Saddle Up recommends the use of Nikwax Leather Cleaner and Nikwax Leather Restorer with your Freeform Saddle.
Why? Nikwax WaterBase treatments offers an easy spray-on option. The treatments are more effective than other products requiring less frequent application. Unlike other systems you can’t overdose the leather when using a Nikwax WaterBase formulation.
Wet Leather Rescue
The solution is to take action before that wet leather completely dries. Remove any dirt or mud from the wet leather with a damp rag. While the leather is still damp and its pores are still open, apply a coat of Nikwax Leather Restorer. As the water evaporates, capillary action will pull the conditioner down between the fibers to take its place. The wet leather needs to absorb conditioner deep within its fibers to replace currying oils flushed out by the water.
Sweat and leather don’t mix
Sweat may be good for horses in training but it’s bad for your tack. Left to dry, that sweat can damage your leather. Dirty leather becomes not only becomes stiff and dry, but the collective grunge can also irritate your horse’s skin. Combined with dirt and accumulated grease from gummy leather care products, sweat becomes a breeding ground for bacteria that eat away at stitching weakening it permanently.
Make it easy to clean your tack as soon as possible after riding and you’re more likely to tend that tack faithfully. Follow a quick cleaning routine after every ride and schedule a more thorough cleaning at regular intervals.
At a minimum, wipe sweat away with clear water, rinsing your tack sponge between swipes and wringing it almost dry before taking the next pass over the leather. Use enough water to flush salty sweat out of the leather’s surface pores but don’t saturate the leather. To do the best job, use Nikwax Leather Cleaner to dissolve and lift away sweat and dirt .
When it’s time to clean that tack, squirt or spray the Nikwax Leather Conditioner onto your tack sponge and wipe tack down. Pay particular attention to the undersides to parts that have been against the horse and to stitching lines that can trap sweat. Rinse your sponge frequently (if you set a bucket of water out before your ride, it will be a comfortable temperature when you return) to avoid wiping sweat from one area onto another.
Twice a year, take tack apart buckle by buckle and do a thorough cleaning. Use a toothbrush, cotton swabs or even toothpicks to nudge any accumulated dirt from stitching lines, holes, and tooling.