Hard-to-Fit Horses find Relief with Treeless Saddles

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Have a hard-to-fit horse? Tired of trying saddle after saddle? See what these riders have to say about solving their hard-to-fit problems with Freeform treeless saddles - from high withers to big shoulders to wide-barrel beach balls to special need's horses.

Ability to Modify to Fit Multiple Hard-to-Fit Horses - A Real Plus

I’ve been riding in a Freeform Classic DKR Trail since 2018, using it for both endurance and trail riding on multiple horses. I really came to appreciate the flexibility of the Freeform system this spring when my son and I each had a young horse to start. My previous horses have mostly been Arabians, and my primary endurance horse for the past 15 years has been Rosie, a 15-1 H mare with prominent withers. My new filly, Roxie, is a 14-2 H nearly 4-year-old Morgan/Appaloosa cross, best described as a “spotted beach ball”, with almost no withers.

hard to fit spotted Appalossa horse standing by a fence wearing a Freeform treeless saddle.

I thought there was no way the same saddle could fit both of them. I tried several treed saddles specifically designed for wide horses, but none of them fit Roxie properly. So I gave up and decided to at least get her started with the Freeform. On Rosie I had used either a Freeform or Skito pad, both of which kept the saddle off her withers and spine. With Roxie’s plump back with a crease down the middle, spine pressure isn’t an issue, so I just used a Toklat Coolback pad. We are now doing short trail rides and she seems very comfortable and happy, while I feel secure and well balanced. I can even mount from the ground without the saddle slipping.

My son’s young mare, Melody, has a very straight (almost roached) back, and it was obvious that the Specialized saddle he had used on her dam could not be adjusted to fit her. I offered him the use of my second Freeform saddle, with a 17.5” Ultimate Trail seat on a Laurel base. It was great for the horse since it could flex to follow the contour of her back, but rather cramped for my son, who is 5’10” and 160 lb compared to my 5’5” and 125 lb. Paulita sent a couple of larger seats for him to try, and he is now very happy in a 19” dressage seat with long Wave leathers. In fact he likes it so well that he plans to sell his other saddle. Melody is also doing well, and we hope to have both youngsters ready for an introductory (15 mile) endurance ride this fall.

The ability to modify the Freeform saddle to fit a substantially different horse or rider is a real plus, and definitely more cost effective than buying multiple different saddles for each horse/rider combination.

Uncomfortable Horse from Jaime in North Carolina

We’ve known the horse below for several years. The original owner, while she got assistance from a pro-fitter, was having a great deal of trouble finding a saddle that this horse could move comfortably in. We got the horse, a 5-year old Arabian, in the early fall and it was clear he had been through a lot with saddle fit. He is a very sweet horse, but would act up around the mounting block.

Paulita personally helped us fit him, and he has been very comfortable under-saddle since! You can clearly see that he has been able to develop muscle in his back with a correct saddle, where he couldn’t before. We made other changes to his care, but feel the change in the saddle was arguably the most important.

This horse is now cheerful under-saddle, and is proving himself quite an athlete! He did an endurance ride in late November, and was judged to be in the 2nd best veterinary condition at the end of the ride, on an examination which included back condition. Many thanks to you Paulita! You made a big difference to this awesome horse!

woman cantering a chestnut horse down a trail through a forest in a Freeform treeless saddle.

Before Photo

After Photo

Saddle Fitting for the “Beach Ball” from Heather Charlick

When I got my Gypsy Vanner four years ago little did I know that finding a saddle for him would be such a long and challenging road. The first year and a half we tried 9 different saddles and I ended up riding him bareback most of the time because they just weren’t wide enough, dug into his shoulders and rolled. It was like putting a saddle on a propane tank and expecting it to stay put.

We eventually started down the treeless route which improved things for him, but for me many of the treeless saddles lacked proper structure and twist, which exacerbated my back and hip issues. They were comfortable but did not provide any structure. They mostly felt like I was sitting atop a pile of pillows. And with him being so wide my hips felt split in two.

Enter the Freeform. I was reluctant to try yet another saddle and be disappointed. But Paulita was very optimistic that the Freeform would work both for my beach ball of a horse and for all of my back & hip issues. She sent me lots of choices and walked me through the process of swapping out bases and seats to get the perfect fit. Once I sat in the Ultimate Trail Seat it was all over. I had recently had back surgery so I was the definition of princess and the pea. Riding in the Ultimate Trail all of my back pain and hip pain was gone. I rode my horse pain free for two hours for the first time that I can remember. It had a great twist, lots of support for my hips and my feet were perfectly underneath me for the first time ever. My horse was super happy as well.

If you have a Gypsy, Fjord, Haflinger or super wide beach ball horse I would recommend trying a Freeform. They are the perfect option for these super hard to fit horses.

Black and white paint Gypsy Vanner horse standing on the grass with trees in the background wearing a Freeform treeless saddle

From Joanne Archer- Finally A Solution

My horse, Moonshine Just The Business aka Bali, has had a number of biomechanical issues in her back stemming from 3 separate injuries to the left hind. As a result she couldn’t wear a treed saddle comfortably for any longer distances so I am just delighted to have finally found the solution to this problem with the Freeform saddle. A massive plus is that it is also incredibly comfortable for me, too.

woman endurance rider in a Freeform treeless saddle trotting her sorrel horse through an open grassy area with trees in the background.

One Strong Case for Treeless Saddles

Just wanted to give you a little Svenna update - she has changed SO MUCH since I bought the Freeform. Her back looks incredible. Really, her whole body has muscled up properly because she can get over the back and really work. See the before and after pix in Caroline's full treeless story - One Strong Case for Treeless Saddles.

Freeform treeless saddle on a hard-to-fit horse.

From Elisabeth Bellotte-Butcher- Withers & Wide Frame

See how well the saddle fits over her withers and wide frame. And the black fenders blend in perfectly with the black saddle pad. Perfect, perfect, perfect!! I can’t get over how comfy the saddle is. She’s not too happy about not being able to eat the grass. But I’m super happy with my saddle. Thanks so much for your help.

brown and white paint horse standing in grass wearing a Freeform treeless saddle.

From Colleen Damato - Big Shoulders & High Withers

I’m not one to write online reviews, but I just had to tell you about Paulita and this wonderful saddle. I have a 5 year old TWH that I ride almost every day. He has big shoulders, a prominent backbone and high withers. Yes, he’s a difficult horse to fit a saddle to.

I tried a few different versions of western saddles, English saddles, and a dressage saddle. Nothing worked. My horse got saddle sores, pressure welts, and he was bucking (just in case I didn’t get the message).

I reached out to Paulita under the recommendation of my veterinarian. My vet had bought a Freeform saddle from Paulita and “couldn’t say enough” about Paulita’s great customer service and the quality and design of the saddle itself.

Suffice to say, I agree 100%! Paulita is very knowledgeable and is just the nicest person to deal with. We spent a lot of time discussing what would work best for my horse and I. She helped me put together a saddle that I can honestly say is the most comfortable saddle seat I have EVER sat in.

I bought the aptly named “happy ass” seat and the trail saddle. I love the contact I have with the horse, it almost feels as if I’m riding bareback, but it’s a lot more comfortable. The saddle is lightweight and fits my horse like a glove. He has plenty of wither clearance and complete freedom of movement in his shoulder.

We have had our Freeform saddle for about two months. We ride almost every day. I am happy to report that my horse is moving beautifully and he has only bucked once under this saddle (he was spooked). I think it’s his little way of saying thank you. I am certainly grateful to Paulita for her expertise and her kindness. The whole experience was actually fun for me and I feel like I made a new friend. I highly recommend working with Paulita and discovering this incredible saddle for yourself. You won’t regret it!

woman sitting on a gray Tennessee Walking horse wearing a Freeform treeless saddle in the snow.

The Last Saddle You & Your Horse Will Ever Need

Flame is a QH/App now 9-year old mare that is old school QH — round and stocky and thick. Fitting her has been a nightmare…however, as you will read, the nightmare is over and the dream of seeing my horse and me riding happily in a saddle that feels as if it were custom made for us both has come true! Read the rest of Hope's treeless story - The Last Saddle You & Your Horse Will Ever Need.

From Sage Bourassa, Mounted Police Officer & Marshal

I have been a Police Officer for 16 years and on the mounted unit for eleven. My equine partner’s name is Marshal. He is a 24 years old, Morgan Arabian cross and has been my law enforcement partner for eight years.

I have great things to say about Freeform: Marshal is a very hard horse to fit and he is very particular about being comfortable. Freeform saddles are the best thing I have found to fit both of us. I have the western for police work and the Freewest for trail riding.

The best part is how Marshal came into my life. Approximately ten years ago I received a phone call from a friend of a friend. A person who knows nothing about horses; but knows when an animal is suffering. She frantically told me that I needed to rescue this horse. Long story short I made the four hour drive to rescue this horse. Not that I needed another horse. I just thought I would rescue him, get him healthy, and find him a good home.

I pulled up next to the 30 foot round pen that he hadn’t been out of in four years, manure up to his knees, his feet so long that his toes curled over like elf shoes, and every bone in his body was sticking out under skin with open sores from a bacteria infection. I had brought a horse with me hoping this would help him load since we had no idea if he would get into a trailer. Marshal hadn’t seen another horse in four years. My mare in the trailer whinnied at Marshal. Marshal stood as tall as he could on his elf shaped feet, arched his neck and cried over and over.

I took my first real look at him and fell in love. It was everything about him, his look, mannerisms, and his gorgeous eyes. I knew I had found the horse of my dreams. He was the one, I just knew it!! I put a halter on him and opened the trailer door. He ran inside the trailer so fast that he almost fell down! He is the coolest and smartest horse I have ever had the pleasure to know. We will be together till the end!!!

Female mounted police officer standing next to her black horse wearing a Freeform treeless saddle.

From Pam Murphy & Her Clydesdale Legend

I am Legend’s mom and I was introduced to your saddle through Theresa. Legend is a 17.5, 2,000 lb barrel belly Clydesdale. I have been through 3 saddles before I found this saddle.

I bought a draft saddle that was too small – I just about gave up hope. I have a draft horse – why doesn’t a draft saddle fit? I knew there was something out there for us and your Freeform saddle was it. No questions asked. We love it.

It gives me confidence when I ride, it is very comfortable and the horses love it too. I love that it is very light and I can hoist that up on Legends back with no problems at all. I love the adjustable stirrups.

My saddle is also the farm favorite and the first one the manager grabs when needing to ride the big guys. I love that I can use it on Legend, then transfer it directly to a pony. Thank you. We absolutely love this saddle.

Hard-to-fit brown and white Clydesdale horse standing in an arena wearing a Freeform treeless saddle

Fitting My Fjord - Hello Centerline, Hello Balance

Shortly after purchasing my Fjord mare, I set about finding a saddle. I was an English rider, but had also learned to love trail riding, We found Paulita and Freefrom after much trial and error. Hello centerline, hello balance! My bottom doesn’t hurt, not even a little bit. My saddle fits two mares and they're happy. Please give a treeless saddle a try. I had no idea what I was missing. Read the rest of this story (you'll want to)  - Fitting My Fjord - Hello Centerline, Hello Balance

woman riding her hard-to-fit Fjord horse in a Freeform treeless saddle on a neighborhood trail.

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