Find the best treeless saddles for sale right here! Is barrel racing your passion? Do you enjoy trail riding or competitive distance riding? Have a hard-to-fit horse, or feel the need for closer contact with your mount?
You may be one of thousands who find that saddles without trees offer the freedom and comfort that may be lacking in traditional western saddles. Check out treeless saddles for sale by top saddle makers, for competition, work and play. Every saddle ships free, from our expert partners at Horse Saddle Shop.
Treeless Barrel Saddle for Sale
Circle Y Rally Barrel Saddle – Treeless Barrel Saddle
Check out the 5-Star Review on this super comfy, close contact Rally treeless barrel saddle – new from Circle Y.
Designed and priced for anyone young or old learning to run barrels, perfect for 4-H competitors, and experienced riders who just want a more secure seat.
You’ll love the signature saddle of World Champion barrel racer Jackie Jatzlau, by Circle Y. This treeless barrel saddle allows all the freedom of movement you and your horse need to get the win.
Two models to choose from, too. Shown here is the 3″ horn; you may prefer the shorter 2.5″ horn saddle option that is also available.
This treeless saddle is ideal for those who want the security of an upright swell and tall 5″ cantle. Design to keep you in close contact with your horse, enhancing a stable, confident seat as you turn and burn.
Shown here is the 2.5″ horn; you may prefer the taller 3″ horn saddle option.
Treeless Trail Saddles
It’s time to ride the trails in total comfort, with this flexible and horse-friendly treeless trail saddle. The padded seat is deep and secure, and the saddle is designed to allow ultimate contact and communication with your horse.
Enjoy the stability of a treed saddle and the natural flexibility and balance of a treeless model. 4″ cantle height, 3″ horn, neo-shock skirt. Approximate 20 lbs.
After hours on the trail, you’ll be glad you’re riding treeless in genuine Circle Y comfort.
Treeless Endurance Saddle
Used Treeless Bob Marshall Endurance Saddle
The deep comfortable seat makes this treeless saddle ideal for distance riding, trail and pleasure. Perfect for the hard to fit horse, it’s a great option when you need one saddle for various horses.
The Bob Marshall brand is known the world over for endurance, trail and sports saddles. You’ll be surprised how versatile this saddle can be – and where you end up going in it!
Visit the complete inventory of Treeless Saddles in stock!
“Tree free” saddles are lighter than treed saddles, and with western saddles that can be a big plus. Most important, treeless saddle advocates appreciate the good rides they get due to the saddles’ flexibility, balance and overall design for comfort for both horse and rider.
We examine the pros and cons of the treeless saddle, with videos to help you make a good purchase.
What Is a Treeless Saddle?
Equestrians today have more choices in horse tack than ever before. Gone are the days of limited options in comfort and style for both the horse and rider. Innovations in equine equipment have opened the door to “out of the box” ideas.
One of these new ideas could really be considered a relic from the past. Humans rode horses before the invention of the saddle. They rode in the simplest form, bareback.
From the horse’s perspective, bareback riding in the early days was fairly comfortable for them (although pressure problems were likely still an issue). From the human viewpoint, this arrangement was nowhere close to ideal. Humans needed greater stability and a more comfortable way of getting around, fighting battles, hunting, working and more.
People evolved from riding bareback and using animal skins, to riding on stabilizing equipment that was attached to the horse, held in place by straps and girth. The evolution of the saddle took many forms over thousands of years.
The majority of saddles today are constructed around a stiff “tree” that functions as the skeleton or frame of the saddle.
Historically, the tree was almost exclusively constructed from wood, hence the name “tree.” But today it is made from materials such as fiberglass, metal, plastic, and wood. The tree of the saddle is layered in padding and leather.
“To Tree or Not to Tree”
The tree’s purpose is to distribute the rider’s weight evenly (and away from the spine) during all different stages of motion. It creates a channel for the spine of the horse to be free of any weight. The bars of the saddle tree are the load-bearing bars, or strips, that run alongside the horse’s spine. The saddle tree contributes greatly to the stability of the saddle due to the solid seat it creates for the rider.
The tree has other important functions as well. Consider this; for any cowboy or cowgirl who ropes cattle, the tree is indispensable in absorbing the “shock” of a cow hitting the end of the rope.
While the pros of a traditional saddle are important, there can be some definite drawbacks. A growing number of equestrians feel the disadvantages of a saddle built on a tree should be acknowledged, and they actively seek out an alternative.
Fitting Any Saddle to a Horse can be a Challenge
There is always a balancing act between rider stability through the firmness of the seat versus securing the saddle to the horse. The saddle and girth must be pliable and forgiving to keep the horse comfortable.
Many owners and riders feel that saddles built around trees can create pressure points along the horse’s back and in the girth area that can be detrimental to the mount. A horse’s back is a delicate area with each horse having a unique shape all its own.
Any time the horse’s back does not mirror the shape of the saddle tree, there can be a problem. If you start to see white hair on your horse’s back, that is a good indication your horse is being injured and is probably in pain. Left unattended, the problem area can lead to your horse developing behavioral issues and can also cause serious muscle or nerve damage to your horse’s back. No amount of saddle pads can compensate for an ill-fitting saddle.
This video by Equitopia explains the different ways a saddle can cause your horse unnecessary pain and what you can do about it.
Time for a New Way of Doing Things
One segment of horse owners has discovered that a treeless saddle is a good answer to their saddle fitting troubles, especially for horses that are hard to fit.
Saddle-fitting problems such as fitting wide or broad-backed horses, high-withered horses, or horses that are still maturing or starting to show age, have been resolved by switching to treeless saddles.
A treeless saddle is just that; a saddle that has no tree. Basically, treeless models have a pommel and cantle (a deep, secure seat) but otherwise are built without the rigid bars that run alongside the horse’s spine, connecting the front and back of the saddle.
A treeless saddle generally lacks any sort of hard structure. Many layers of padding and leather give them their structure. Some may have a rigid cantle and pommel that are constructed from a material such as fiberglass. The seat of the saddle is typically leather, and it tends to weigh much less than its treed counterpart.
Many riders today are convinced that their horses perform better in the treeless type of saddle because they are more comfortable. Plenty of converts also believe that their horse will move in a more natural way since a saddle with no tree seems much less restrictive. They also feel they have seat stability while enjoying an enhanced “feel” of the horse underneath them.
Treeless barrel saddles, top quality and priced right.
Pros and Cons of Treeless Saddles
Opinions on which saddle type (with a tree, or treeless) is best, are numerous and varied. There are critics on both sides of the fence.
Saddles with Trees – Why They’re a Good Choice
Proponents of saddles built around a structural tree will point to several attributes that they believe make these saddles a good choice.
- Riders who prefer treed saddles point out that a traditional saddle distributes the weight of the rider much more efficiently across the back of the horse. They feel that a treeless saddle will concentrate the weight instead. Furthermore, they believe when the firm seat is absent in the treeless version, riders tend to slump downward applying even more pressure to the horses back.
- Advocates believe a rider will have a well-balanced position in the seat of a treed saddle.
- Many equestrians point out that a well-designed treed model can be supple and flex along with the horse while it is in motion. Saddles constructed with trees may be outfitted with strategically placed airbags inside the panels, or they can be constructed with materials more conducive to elasticity (such as carbon fiber and polyurethane)
- Defenders of traditional saddles often bring up the fact that most of the upper-level riders do not use treeless saddles. The idea is that there are reasons behind this lack of participation.
- Another sentiment shared by treed saddle patrons is that the tree structure will absorb and counteract the movements of an equestrian who is not balanced in their seat. They feel a saddle with a tree will spare the horse’s back and not throw the horse off balance, compared to a treeless saddle’s inability to counteract unsteady or erratic rider movement. They point out that a saddle with no tree in such instances will tend to turn and slide around the barrel of the horse, showing a lack of stability found in the models with trees.
- Another strong opinion of traditional saddle proponents is the fact that the tree of a saddle keeps all the weight off the horse’s spine. Severe spinal damage and even neurological dysfunction can be caused by compression of the spinal canal. Treed saddle supporters contend that a treeless saddle can easily collapse on the horses back, causing harm.
Treeless Saddles – Why They’re a Good Choice
Believers in the treeless models feel differently. They point to the following positive characteristics that define their favored riding saddle:
- Supporters of the treeless version contend that the rider can position themselves in a more natural way on the horse’s back versus being “fixed in position” by the saddle design. This allows more comfort for the equestrian and encourages the evolution of an independent seat resulting in a more balanced ride for themselves and their mounts.
- People who ride treeless saddles credit them for relief from neck, back, and knee pain since they ride in a natural, balanced state. Very often these saddle owners state that that treeless is extremely comfortable and therapeutic.
- Equestrians take advantage of the heightened “feel” they experience between themselves and their horse. The rider can get into a rhythm with the movement of the horse.
- Treeless saddle defenders state that a rider can easily transmit riding aids to the horse, which in turn helps them to execute crisp transitions and movements.
- It is a fact that the treeless saddle can be slightly longer than a traditional saddle since the tree is absent.
- Treeless saddle users have the opinion that a horse who is difficult to fit can sometimes benefit greatly from a treeless saddle. They argue that a treeless saddle will help the horse to be more comfortable and feel much less restricted in movement.
- Treeless aficionados point out that a quality treeless saddle will save trips to the saddle fitter. Of course, it is always advisable to engage the help of a reputable saddle fitter to make sure any saddle fits properly, but many treeless proponents point out that traditional saddles built around a tree will not only require initial appointments with a saddle fitting professional, but re-checks and adjustments will also be required every few months or yearly for as long as the horse uses the saddle. Adjustments will be frequent if a horse is conditioning up, or as a horse matures and ages.
- The weight of the saddle minus the tree is substantially less than a traditional treed saddle.
Check out the laid back cantle and low profile swell for enhanced freedom.
Should You Go Treed or Treeless with your Western Saddle?
There is no easy formula. How you use your saddle and its suitability for what you do will be key to the process.
For example: Do you spend your weekends tie-down or steer roping? If so, then choosing a saddle with a tree will probably be your only option. Do you trail ride, barrel race, or compete in endurance riding or dressage? If that is the case, then a treeless saddle could be the perfect fit.
What is the physical build of your horse? How often do you ride, and for how long? Carefully examine your needs. If you are currently having an issue, you will need to determine the problem. Is the problem with the saddle itself, or is the problem that the saddle isn’t a proper fit for the horse? Each individual circumstance will be different.
Say you’ve made the decision: a treeless saddle it is!
What’s next? As with any tack purchase, always aim for as much quality as you can afford. Do a little homework to ensure the choice you make is the right one!
Tips for buying treeless saddles:
- Take the approach of evaluating each saddle model independent of others. There’s a wide range of configurations and construction methods involved with treeless saddles and models can be radically different from each other.
- Manufacturers of treeless saddles will sometimes set weight limit guides. Pay special attention to this detail. The more weight that the saddle must carry, the more substantial the construction of the treeless saddle should be. Also, be cognizant of what you will be using the saddle for.
- Be on the lookout for models with options for adjusting the fit of the saddle. Be mindful that the treeless saddle must not compress the spinal channel. Some treeless models are designed with a gullet which allows a channel for the spine. Some versions are constructed of a singular piece of molded foam that provides relief for the backbone. Search for a saddle that features a cutback in the pommel area for any horse with prominent withers. Some models might be equipped with an adjustable pommel area.
- Make sure there is ample padding where the rider’s weight will bear down.
- Look for a model with a girthing system designed to distribute cinch pressure over the entire saddle footprint; opt for a split system (such as a Y configuration) to eliminate pressure points.
- Aim for a saddle that is padded and short. Ergonomically shaped padding is preferred. The shortened length and comfortable padding will help guard against friction along the back of the horse.
- Pay special attention to the stirrups and how they are attached. Stirrup arrangement should maximize the distribution of the rider’s weight. Avoid stirrups that are fastened by a single strap, as this could lead to pressure against the horse. Stirrups should also have multiple leg length adjustments for the comfort of the rider.
- Get a good treeless saddle pad. A saddle without a tree will still require a saddle pad made specifically for use under the saddle.
- If the horse you intend to use the saddle on has a rounded or wide back in conjunction with low withers, you would be wise to take special care in choosing your new saddle. A treeless saddle wants to turn and slide sideways on a horse with this type of conformation. If this is the case, you might need to incorporate a breast collar, or breastplate to aid in the stability of the saddle.
- A treeless saddle will feel different than a traditional saddle. While traditional saddles provide a narrower feel in the seat, the typical treeless saddle will feel much wider underneath you.
- If you show or compete with your horse, you should check with competition management, or consult the rules that are applicable and double check that your treeless saddle complies with the guidelines.
- Talk to equestrians and friends who already own or ride in a treeless saddle. Get their opinions on what brands or styles are good quality. It can be extremely helpful to see what brands and models they might suggest. Additionally, start a dialog with a saddle fitting professional who has experience with this type of saddle. Chances are good that they can steer you in the right direction while you garner valuable information that can save you time, money, and headaches. Developing a good working relationship with a saddle professional can be beneficial to you and your horse on many levels. Pick a fitter who will closely examine both you and your horse’s needs.
- Some saddles without trees may not be measured in traditional inches. In this case, find what fits you well for the make and model you are interested in and go with that.
Saddle Pads for Treeless Saddles
This saddle pad resists the possible “roll” that might result from some treeless saddle models. The open spinal area helps the saddle pad to conform to the horses back in a concave manner, reducing the side to side roll. Rounded or square shape. Great care is given to wither height and slope, back line and hip position to ensure superior fit.
There are endless choices available when shopping for treeless saddles, so take advantage of the options offered, and consider many different models.
Don’t be lured into a bad choice by a cheap price tag attached to a saddle with low quality materials and poor-quality construction. Keep in mind that fit is still extremely important, even with a pliable treeless saddle. Just because a saddle maker claims that their treeless saddle will fit all horses, that’s not always the case.
You need to be keenly aware that not every horse is able to use a treeless saddle. Check to see if the saddle manufacturer has a return and exchange program in case the saddle does not work out for you and your horse.