What type of tree to choose, flexible or rigid?
The aparition of the tree:
In the history of the saddle, the tree appeared very quickly to increase the quality of the relationship between rider and horse. Even American Indians, renowned riders off peers, have quickly abandoned their mounts "bareback" to adopt the settlers' tree! They quickly realized that with the tree, they tired less, and especially their horses they became much more effective in archery and rifle. Similarly, in Central Asia, where the armies of Genghis Khan would never have made such achievements, China to the Danube, without their seat with their famous tree in poplar wood. We understand that the appearance of the tree is linked to the development of riding utility: work, hunting or war. For a simple demand for efficiency, saddlers (arçonniers) had to develop pommel increasingly specialized and efficient, enabling the best use (later, longer and faster!) While minimizing interference the horse because if it loses its integrity, it becomes inoperable! Many variations are possible emerged over the centuries, the worst and best, of extravagant and brilliant!
Far from being an instrument of torture (what would be the point?) Imply as some recent theories worthy of the new-age of the 80, the tree has a key role.
The role of the tree:
First, it must ensure the best possible distribution of weight on the horse's back (trapezius and latissimus dorsi). The goal is of course, to interfere as little as possible so it can move under the best conditions, whatever the shape and the field. Let us not forget also that the tree has allowed the use "active" from the yoke that has been a revolution in the way to go. Secondly, it must allow the rider's autonomy in relation to movements of the horse. it is evident that the rider "bareback" where "Treeless" can not claim independence of movement, although this is the basis of equity, because it is intimately linked to the slightest movement and it is therefore "walk", which is the opposite of riding! The tree, intermediate between these two living things, will allow the independence of the legs (legs isolated) and hands (hands fixed) but also greater accuracy in the movements of the basin. Reread in this context the writings of great riders riding lightness ...
The rigid tree:
The most obvious is their strength, although it should qualify according to the material and manufacturing quality. Their design gives them a consistency that allows them to withstand significant effort.
The comfort of this type of tree will depend on either of its flexibility, but its direct form, as part of the next horse rider. If his form is successful, the top comfort for the rider, with the caveat that these are first pommel made for sitting and looking like it's sitting so we will appreciate them most. Being larger than the pommel flexible, they offer a seat surface more often and thus make it a more relaxing: the rider has no effort to do to "stand" which seems logical when one rides a horse ... or we walk! The position will be more natural and certainly more economical for the legs which must fall on their own weight.
The seat with his cantle, often quite high, is reassuring.
This is also part of the rider's comfort, ease of attachment of the package and all possible accessories is higher than the pommel flexible. But the main advantage at this level is the ability to fasten the whole tree-bags which not only increases the reliability of the whole, but also constitutes a much more "coherent" on the back of the horse that has not seem to carry a grocery store in bulk on the back!
If the airfoil is often higher, again the advantage of the tree that is resistant to deformation will distribute its weight across the contact he has with the horse's back.
The tree, being rigid, will obviously firm contact to the horse's back. It is therefore imperative to be very careful about the location of the tree on the horse, usually farther back, and especially so choose a carpet that will replace the role of an English saddle padding. A late English saddle pads can not be used for a rigid tree saddle.
The seat contact is obviously too strong, even if the trend to offer seats "commercial" is installed (the seat "commercial" is a place where we increase the overly thick foam seat to believe that it is comfortable), so he asks a pool asset that accompanies the horse. A jumper from the English saddle will always need an adjustment period and must re-learn to sit. Anyway, those seats will always be stronger: the difference in comfort will be felt along the length!
The flexible tree:
They are glaring! While retaining the qualities of lift of rigid pommel and all possibilities of fasteners, strapping same opportunities and of course the same forms of siege, they provide much greater comfort for both horse and rider is the benefits of the famous "Treeless" without the drawbacks
The pommel is deformed longitudinally, but also twist allowing it to "absorb" the movements of the back without hitting him. In addition, over the stool that make the "bridge" on a hollow back since the tree will naturally go down to take his place. For the rider is the comfort of the "rigid" tire mounted on! The sitting trot becomes a kind of trance in which we could go around the earth!
Add, that are flexible pommel a little lighter (lower density) than their counterparts rigid ... and it is always better than nothing!
Although minor, there too! The most obvious is that we have found that this type of tree is somewhat less stable than the same version for the horses very rigid round without apparent withers. To be tested in the mountains on a horse at the withers drowned, it is quite bearable if we take the necessary precautions. Add to that a little fragile from the point of view of the anchor bolts in rigid pommel although we had no particular problems at this level for several years of use now. Although this is not really a drawback, we believe that in the case of saddle travel for carrying weight for long periods, the benefits of flexible pale in comparison to the rigid will still always more reliable Most importantly, the load distribution is more constant.
And treeless saddle?
Year last century, it was called the bardette, it was used by farmers to go to the fair and many riders who started in pony club still remember it!
There are currently popular in recreational riding, a fully flexible saddle wear sensible to fill the feelings of the rider and the horse safely. Why not? A priori, it seems that these riders do not come out of the quarry and they stay on the flat: the real walkers are not really concerned. The few experiences of hiking with this type of seat that proved disastrous for the horses who came back covered with sores. We believe more particularly to a shipping promotion that is part of Germany to Sweden with Fjords who arrived in such a state that riders are grouped outraged to prevent the return with the same stool ...!
The idea seems attractive at first glance, but the arguments of its proponents is not very coherent and strangely reminiscent of the great theories of New Age 80s. The tree is only an instrument of torture in the service of evil horsemen who do not like horses ...
The role of a tree is to distribute the weight of the rider and especially to relieve the spine (particularly the dorsal spinal processes) essential point of the horse's health. In his essay equine osteopathy which refers, Dr. Giniaux said: "It seems obvious that the distribution of the rider's weight has an impact on the overall balance of the horse." However, a treeless saddle, which is in that a carpet "dressed" in the saddle can not meet this requirement correctly. She first mobile too (she always tends to move towards the back 9, 10 and 11) and above it collapses under the action of the rider. This support is mandatory under the rider (15 to 20 cm max) and the horse "cash" all movements directly on his column! It's less worse if left sitting, but if he gets up in the stirrups, the pressure will be more than an even smaller portion. As evidence, proponents of this type of equipment recommend a special mat, almost mandatory, heavily padded against strips away the heavily tree jumper horse when he is supposed to be "closest" and above which shows that the treeless saddle is dangerous for the integrity of the spine.
Most brands marketed in France since shortly advise the routine use of a grab ... In fact, it turns out that the seat turns very easily, which makes sense ... since there is no tree - it also puts forward a lot, which is worse! Furthermore, they propose "option strongly recommended" a rigid cantle and pommel arch (small frame in a polyester cover models copied synthetic saddles), the treeless saddle would she need a structure? If we wait a little, we will soon offer bands tree and the loop will be complete! Although reinforced with carpet, there is not far. Some brands use to discourage jumpers too heavy which suggests that they themselves had doubts ...
Transaltion of the article of Mr Jean-Michel Guichard.
Thanks to Mr Jean-Michel Guichard, saddler and hiker, who was authorized to distribute this excerpt from his fascinating article on the pommel.