What is a Flex Tree?
A flex tree saddle is built with a tree that typically has a dual-bar system which is intended to provide both stability and flexibility in the saddle. Ideally, then the horse is able to move under the saddle, because it has a flexible tree that will move with them.
The Benefits of a Flex Tree Saddle
Let me start by saying that there are some benefits for a owning and riding a flex tree saddle.
- They do fit a broader range of horses.
- It is light weight, so it is easier to lift and handle. This can be a benefit for both horse and rider, and beneficial when saddling as well.
- The leather is really soft, which makes for a more comfortable seat and fit.
- It really does flex and move with your horses back. The flex in the tree often helps by freeing up the horse’s movement.
However, they don’t fit every horse and rider.
The Down Side of a Flex Tree Saddle
Rider weight is a real concern for flex tree riders. The reason why weight is an issue is due to the fact that the tree truly flexes.
The bars flexing can be a double edge sword. (If you noticed this is also listed as a benefit too.) Because the tree can flex it can cause pressure points on the horses back. It can cause knots to develop and sometimes even bloody spots where there is too much pressure. A heavy rider can flex the bars to the point that the cantle rests on the spine causing a definite problem.
Another issue you have to consider is how often you ride. If you ride often you might want to reconsider, because anything that flexes eventually breaks. Therefore, the life expectancy of a flex tree saddle will not be as long as a rigid tree saddle.
Are all Flex Trees the same?
Not all flex tree saddles are created equal. Some company’s trees flex more than other company’s. You need to investigate before you make a purchase.
When do we Question a Flex Tree for a Rider?
Flex trees have pros and cons just like any saddle. If you are a heavier rider or have a horse with spinal issues you need to take time to access both your needs and your horses needs. In addition, flex tree saddles are not made for roping and pulling.
Who should ride a Flex Tree?
Flex trees can be great for riders looking for a lighter saddle or for those wanting a performance saddle that weighs less and allows for more free movement from their horse.
We sell Circle Y Flex Tree Saddles at our C&L Saddle Shop, but take special care in accessing both the horse and rider. We have had great experiences with these saddles, but have also turned down sales to customers at risk of future problems.
If you are in the market for a consultation, please don’t hesitate to call or message us. Get more information of how to fit a saddle or We can arrange a individual saddle fitting assessment!
If you are a mule rider you check out our post on Mule Saddles as well!
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