About the Flex Tree...

We feel it is important to provide as much information as possible on the trees we use, as the tree is, no doubt, the most important aspect of any saddle - flexible or not.

Aussie tree flipped

Please note the indentations on the bars of the Equi-Fit Flexible tree. This allows sufficient space for the stirrup leathers to pass over and under the bars. This is of PARAMOUNT importance in all saddle trees, flexible or not, as it prevents a line of pressure forming where the stirrup leather passes over and under the bar. Not all western trees have this unfortunately.

The following is from Steele Saddle Tree LLC USA...the makers of Equi-Fit Flexible Trees.

"As with every manufacturer who depends on selling a product to consumers, we aim to please the customer. However, we face the question of which customer: Saddlers, our direct customer; riders, our indirect customers; or horses, our incidental customers? Displeasing any of the three is not an option. Therefore we aim to please the ‘customer’ we have identified as an equal partnership between the saddlers who build the saddles, the riders who buy and ride them, and the horses who wear them. Our goal is to enhance and improve the experience of all three. We achieve this by providing timely delivery of consistent and accurate saddle trees; by developing and offering the variety of fits and styles necessary for today’s broad spectrum of horses, riders and disciplines; and by continuing to apply and utilize new technologies and materials as they become available. Our commitment to serving the partnership is the sustaining force enabling us to remain at the forefront of the western saddle tree industry for the past 160 years."

Construction:

Conventional four parts – fork, cantle and two bars. A rigid fork and cantle assembled together with flexible bars. The rigid fork and cantle maintain proper bar rafter angle and spread while the flexible bars allow the tree to bend along with your horse’s spine.

Materials:

Forks and cantles – fiberglass-covered wood/plywood. We offer a limited number of styles molded of a structural elastomer reinforced with a fiberglass mesh. Bars – Equi-Fit Flexible bars are molded of a material similar to a rubber-like work boot sole. This state-of-the-art elastomer owes its flexibility to the molecular structure; it does not come from an added softening agent that will eventually evaporate leading to drying out and cracking.

Assembly:

Equi-Fit Flexible bars are molded with a well defined socket for both the fork and cantle, eliminating incorrectly measured trees. The elastomer has memory insuring distortion-free parts that always set up square and level.

Fasteners:

All Equi-Fit Flexible fork-to-bar and cantle-to-bar joints are fastened using five #10 screws, four 3 1/8” and one 1”. We are unaware of a single example of the screw heads pulling through the flexible elastomer.

Coverings:

All wood forks and cantles are covered with 6 oz. fiberglass cloth just as Euqi-Fit Classic trees. All molded parts – forks, cantles or bars – have sufficient strength so that no additional covering is necessary.

Fits:

Our goal is to have our Equi-Fit Flexible line feature all eight fits represented by Fit To Be Seen Tree 'Fit Kit'. We don’t have them all at this time, but the flexibility allows independent modification of the bar rafter angle front and rear. This allows us to more properly fit a wide spectrum of back types even as we complete tool-up on our standard fits.

Click on pictures to enlarge.

The purple arrows indicate the direction of flexion possible in the Equi-Fit Flexible Tree: longitudinally and diagonally.
Some of the Kuda Leather Flex Saddles are also flexible laterally.

Flexible Tree Saddles - Article by Cynthia Cooper - Natural Horse World (Australia)

Flexible saddle trees are becoming increasingly popular, reflecting the growing awareness and concern of today's riders for their horses' well-being.

Why a flexible tree ? As with many consumer products in general, technology has evolved products throughout the years. We watch flat screen colour TV's and no longer 10" black and white TV's - we drive technically advanced cars, the same goes for the saddle tree - it has evolved into a new, advanced generation of saddle tree that is quite different from conventional trees being used for centuries made out of wood and covered with hide or fibreglass.

Riders, trainers, and constructors of equipment developed the flexible tree saddle after becoming dissatisfied with traditional saddles. They kept encountering poor performance saddles that caused sore muscles, white hairs, muscle wastage or a "deadened" communication between horse and rider.

Building a saddle with a flexible tree that can adjust to the conformation of the horse significantly widens the range of horses that the saddle will fit. Perhaps an even greater benefit to a flexible tree is the fact that the tree will move with the horse instead of against it. When a horse turns or bends his body the tree will "get out of the way" of the horse's shoulders and hips. Close contact, lightweight and relief from pressure points to the horse's back are primary benefits to the flex tree, achieved by using materials that result in a thinner, lighter tree bar.

Do I need a saddle with a flexible tree ? Of course if you use a western saddle for heavy duty ranch work or steer roping a flexible tree is not for you, but most other horse sports such as reining, dressage, jumping and even endurance are based on 'feel' and being felt by your horse.

Bridging and pressure points are virtually eliminated by the saddle's ability to conform to the horse's back as compared to a 'rigid' piece of wood placed on a horse's back.

Borderline fitting problems can be solved by the ability of the bars of the tree to conform and 'give' just enough to avoid pinching and bridging.

One of the commonly used saddle trees for flexible western style saddles is the Equi-Fit. Equi-Fit saddle trees are made up of separate components. They retain a traditional rigid fork and cantle in order to avoid wither pinching and spine irritation caused by tree spread or flattening. The traditional rigid bars, however, are replaced by bars moulded of a specially developed elastomer, a material similar to a rubber-like work boot sole.

Equi-Fit Flexible bars are moulded to shape, not cut from a flat sheet.

The flexibility 'enhances' an already proper fit, it doesn't attempt to create it.

Cynthia Cooper
Natural Horse World

Flexible Bar Banner

Kuda Saddles Australia

Kuda Saddles Australia is a subsidiary of Holistic Equine Saddlery & Tack ABN 97 255 778 955

All prices quoted, are in Australian Dollars, are GST inclusive and are subject to change without notice.
No Returns possible on ANY Custom Ordered Items.