About Freeform Saddles
Freeform provides superior quality in every aspect of treeless saddles: remarkable versatility for the serious rider, whether you ride endurance, trail, hunt seat or dressage, made in Italy by craftsmen in consultation with leading equestrians.
Freeform saddles combine the qualities of a conventional saddle with the lightness and flexibility of being treeless. As a result of the Freeform foam injection molding process, the saddle is suitable for horses with a wide variety of conformations. Its flexibility minimizes interference with the horse’s natural gaits and offers a comfortable, more balanced ride than a traditional saddle, while protecting the horse’s back.
The Freeform saddle has two main parts: the saddle base and the detachable seat. Other features include an adjustable stirrup attachment, adjustable girthing and a wide choice of leathers and colors. The breathable foam core ensures the saddle’s light weight. See technical details and more information below.
The flexibility of these 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. One saddle can fit all of your horses. Plus, as your horse’s back changes with age and conditioning, the saddle consistently maintains a good fit.
These are saddles you will use for years to come on many different horses if you so choose, confident that the quality of materials and workmanship will last and last.
The Freeform saddle has been used by most Tevis Cup winners since 2007. You too will be a winner in your horse’s eyes when you’re riding in a Freeform saddle.
We recommend using Skito and Equipedic pads with all our Freeform saddles.
Freeform Saddle Details
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 while providing high flexibility. It will automatically adjust to the movement and shape of your horse. Freeform acts as a totally tree-free saddle with flexibility throughout its entirety, but without collapsing in the pommel arch over time and 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.
Adjustable Stirrup Attachment
The stirrup attachment on the Freeform Saddles is completely adjustable. It is designed to allow custom 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 are stitched on a “Y” system in all Freeform saddles 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 all Freeform saddles (except Western models) are made from leather-faced coated nylon and are English style billets that accept an English dressage girth with two buckles.
New girthing option (above) comes standard for all Freeform Classic (all purpose) and Enduro/Trail saddles from Saddle Up. This girthing was designed by Paulita Neff and Amy Sumrall because they wanted their saddles to have options to fit many different horses. With the three D rings will able you to find the position for the girth that is right for your horse.
Western Freeform saddles, all models, have big D girthing, as shown above.
Detachable Seat and Seat Options
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. Additionally, seats for one Freeform model can be interchanged with a seat from another model.
Seat Sizes: 15 – 19 inches (half inch increments) (See Sizing and Fitting below.)
Sympanova is the standard underlay on Freeform saddles with velcro area for attaching panels. Available option is leather in black, brown, burgundy or newmarket brown colors, with velcro area for attaching panels.
Shown in the picture TOP: leather lining, BOTTOM: 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 is helpful to have someone assist 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.
Leg Measurement Up To / Seat Size Required
18” / 15”
20” / 16”
22” / 16 ½”
23″ / 17”
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 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. The area on the horse’s back equipped to carry the rider comfortably is between the 9th and the 13th thoracic vertebrae. With the Freeform saddle, the rider is placed right behind the withers, avoiding pressure beyond the 14th thoracic vertebrae and allowing full range of movement of the shoulder blades. The rider’s weight is carried without causing pain, discomfort and damage to the horse’s body. The rider weight is wrapped around the horse’s center of motion for best support of weight and freedom of movement.
Because there is no tree to impede the horse’s shoulder movement it does not matter if the saddle panels touch or lay over the horse’s shoulder.
Wither clearance is easily obtainable with the Freeform saddle. All saddles come with a 9mm cutback. Deeper cutback saddles can be special ordered if needed. If you are questioning the fit of your cutback, we recommend you be able to put your fingers under the cutback while trotting down hill. You may feel a bit of pressure, but it should not feel TIGHT.
High withered horses are the most difficult to fit. Not any more – with a Freeform and the newly designed Skito pad we custom make, high withered horses find comfort. Each pad is made from photos of your horse.
Please call Saddle Up for help with saddle selection, pad selection and shimming options.
We at 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. Call us at (540) 830-2713!
Optional Panels Available
Freeform panels help provide even pressure distribution and good clearance over the spine and are available for all Freeform saddles.
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.
The Sympanova material provides a nice additional cushioning effect of the saddle panels.
Panel attached to saddle.
Suede underside with velcro strips for panel attachment.
Easy panel adjustment for various horses’ conformations.
Features and Options
- Cutback option available on all models providing clearance for high withers.
- Flexi-front constructed of high tensile aluminum provides support and flexibility.
- Choice of two underlay materials for the underside of the saddle: Sympanova and leather, which has velcro panels for attaching panels.
- Two sizes of panels to attach to underside of saddle for better fit for some horses, providing better weight distribution of rider, more clearance of spine and withers.
- “Y” girthing distributes pressure more equally.
- Free moving billet straps allow for girth to settle into each horse’s individual girth groove. New girthing on some models provides three D-rings and billets which can be attached to any of the three rings for best individual fit.
- Optional sweat flaps protect sensitive horses from billet strap chafing, for FreeWest, EnduroX, Rogue and Cascade saddles.
- Stirrup leathers attach with Velcro across the top of the saddle, allowing for incremental changes in stirrup position for best rider balance and positioning appropriate for jumping, dressage, and more.
- Close contact EasyFit Leathers greatly eliminate bulk beneath rider’s thighs and knees. One inch wide.
- Wave Leathers provide more leg protection while still maintaining flexibility and freedom of leg position. Three inches wide.
- Standard Fender is wider and for use with Western and English saddles.
- Happy Ass Seat available for trail riding with superior support: high cantle, low twist, and poleys, on the Ultimate Trail saddle and other models.
- Detachable seats interchangeable with most models.
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 at (540) 830-2713.
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 noticeably greater contact with your horse’s motion, giving you more “feel” than you can achieve with a traditional treed saddle. You will also notice that your horse will have easier movement.
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. Even 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?
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 balanced, 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 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 greatly diminished stress to your horse.
What fittings and accessories can I use with my Freeform Saddle?
Most Freeform Saddles are equipped with dressage billet straps so you can use any regular dressage girth. Western models are equipped with one large D-ring. 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.
Nikwax WaterBase treatment 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 the 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 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.