The Smart Saddle! How Smart is it?

Saddle up!  A look into Solution Saddles’ “Treeless” Seat

"Are treeless saddles really worth the potential risks?  It’s always safe to assume a proper fit is critical, no matter how flexible treeless saddles claim to be?"

In an age of endless options for saddles, it’s not too hard to imagine such a divide between treeless and traditional (or treed) riders exist. As many of you know, a treed saddle is standard seat that serves the purposes of not only keeping the rider in a firm position, but also, in an equal distribution of weight on the horses back – keeping pressure to a minimum. The treeless saddle – provided by – boasts lightweight fiberglass pommels and cantels, and foam-padded or leather seats.  This type of saddle contains no rigid structures and is not meant to form or keep its shape. 
Though the treeless option is becoming more popular for contemporary riders, (thanks partially to its lighter price tag) there are many controversies surrounding their use.   Opponents argue that they tend to create abnormal pressure points on the horse’s back, and over time, can cause as many problems as an ill fitting treed saddle. However, for people looking to invest into a treeless seat, Solution saddles offers a diverse variety in both price and style. The British saddle company’s flagship line is known as the SMART saddle.  The company claims a host of physical and behavioral problems that arise in your horse when using a traditional, treed saddle.  Each of their products are made with English leather and come in all sizes for riders of any size and age. According to their website, each of their saddles are designed for performance through improving neck posture, reducing saddle displacement, reducing peak pressure, and improving the alignment of horse, saddle, and rider.
Pricing for these SMART saddles fair just shy of traditional treed saddles (like a Devoucoux), and far less than something on the far end of the spectrum such as a CWD 2gs.  The SMART Native GP (the lower-tiered model) begins at £2,150 ($2,982 USD) and comes with the option to add extras, such as suede or Suprabloc knee flaps, and/or a suede seat, for just a few extra dollars.  The higher level SMART Pro Jump Saddle comes in at  £2,655 ($3,683 USD).  The site also sells different saddle cloths, blocks, pad systems, and more – all branded under the same umbrella of SMART design.
Are treeless saddles really worth the potential risks?  It’s always safe to assume a proper fit is critical, no matter how flexible treeless saddles claim to be.   According to a study by The Society of Master Saddlers involving the use of a pad with pressure sensors under four types of treeless saddles that measured when riders walked, trotted, and cantered: “All of the saddles tested were found to exert pressure onto the horse’s spine under the rider, and all had high, localized pressure under the stirrup bars. No special fitting of saddle to horse was done, and the types of treeless saddles tested were not disclosed.” Regardless, the majority of treeless riders will always claim that these saddles provide more comfort, added mobility, and flexibility – plus the added benefit of being able to feel the rhythm of their horse. What are your thoughts on treeless saddles?  Let us know your thoughts!