First let;s talk a little about English saddles, how
they can sore the horse at a sitting trot or walk, even with the best of "fit". How this particular
problem could have been prevented with only another hour at the bench.
Just look at where the rear of the sweat flap and outer flap attach to the
underside of the tree bar. The two tabs of 1/4" thick leather above the stuffed panels are well hidden
where they bend over the sharp angled edge of the tree.
NO. 1.... the English tree was never made to fit a horse but shaped to the riders seat. The angles of the tree bars are
sharp right up to where they flow into the cantle. (back of the seat)
These 2 leather tabs connecting tabs are about 2.5" wide and 1/4" thick apiece and are the extended
tabs that attache the sweat and outer flaps of your saddle at the rear. They are nailed to the underside of the bars
on each side.
Where they curl over
that angled thin edge of bar above the stuffed panels, they create a set of Knuckles. Kind of like brass KNUCKS, above your
The top German saddlers are
proud to call it necessary for "clear seat aids". While doing clinics in Europe I would palpate a horse at
his forward point of the Gluteals & down, at about that suspected spot. Sure enough.... they would dip a foot. (Yes
it can be worse on one side than the other.) (READ PG. 6 ) Older
horses would be sway backed from this only because of the saddle's "severe seat aids". Croups flatten,
backs dorsiflex, heads pop up, all because of this cheap method of saddle production. (Not that this is the only factor,
there's still the points of the bars & soring at the withers.)
Why are they there, don't these saddlers know what they are doing? ?
Yes they know, but this is production saddlery!!! To remedy this problem
in a saddle, you take each of the two layers of the flap's leather tabs ( about 3/8" thick total)
and cut them into fingers like the top of a castle. Then these two layers must be offset so
the fingers make only one layer of leather thickness. This is called "CASTLE
CUTTING THE FLAPS.
You then skive thin this one layer thickness so as to create a thin layer of top grain leather which
attaches the 2 flaps at the rear on each side of the saddle, without the "knuckle" at that curved
thin edge of tree bar.
How severe are these knuckles above the stuffed panels? When putting the OrthoFlex
panels under a UK made saddle without the stuffed panels, these Knuckles would sore the horse right
thru the delrin panel.
So what can restuffing do with a saddle made like this? Nothing because the knuckles
are still there unless the saddle is disassembled. Re-balancing the rider as that's all re-flocking was
ever meant to achomplish! To actually fit a horse by re-flocking requires new leather patterns for the stuffed panels.
New Panel patterns can then be flocked very firmly to match that horse's back while standing? All of this cost more
than buying a new saddle.It still hasn't addressed the problem of the "seat aids" designed to overcome
saddle discomfort with MORE PAIN FOR CLEAR SEAT AIDS!! That's Passier's excuse for the knuckles folks.
So what is a Master saddler? Simply a good
leather craftsman, these people seldom ride. They wouldn't know when a rider was balanced in a saddle if they
were there to watch them ride. I've seen few that know the anatomy and physics of movement of the quadruped.
I know many of the award winning saddlers in the UK. I've been to their little shops. I've explained as
much about saddlery and the horse to them as I could because they couldn't understand why I had to have things done so
differently than they were shown.
worked with the treemaker of the UK as well. He's a recluse who seldom goes out in public because of his phobia. He's
very quiet and won't even go out to eat. Kevin inherited the business you know! If he doesn't make the tree, he
sells the Steel arch stampings to a saddle company that laminates the layers of beech veneer in a simple mold &
rivets it to the arched head stampings. That's English saddlery and glimpse
of saddlemaking in the UK. Len > 816 625 0333
|AND IF YOUR HORSE HAPPENS TO BEND LIKE THIS?
|IT BECOMES VERY HARD TO BALANCE A RIDER ON A FLEX TREE.
|GEN IV PARK N TRAIL built on the tree you see here
|Look at the Circle Y pad made to go with it. DEE RINGS?
|JUST LAY THE SADDLE ON CONCRETE, GET A HAMMER.
|THEN BEND THE DEE OUT AT THE REAR. THEN SHE COULD RIDE IT?
|LET IT GO AND IT SNAPS BACK INTO A SADDLE SHAPE
|THE PARK & TRAIL DOES WORK WITH A CORRECTOR UNDER IT.
Now let's talk about a banker that met the daughter of an old boy that started a
saddle company with a few other guys in Texas. The Banker was a big guy & paid me a grand once to put the ortho system
in his saddle. He complained about paying a royalty to a patent owner of a TREELESS saddle he built and
sold and used the Circle ? name on it. He later came up with the first flextree saddle. Just 2 thick plastic bars bandsawed
out & stapled to a fork & cantle. NO rawhide covering necessary, just a little neoprene foam glued to the bottom
of those bars & a slotted fiberglass ground seat to let it bend in one place. The foam wears out, the plastic
edges are severe, the bend is in one place, right in front of the cantle. Let this baby hit your horse's back in a barrel
run! Yep, just add the name flex & double the price with a top competitors name on it. It's almost as severe as the
halftree, not quite, and he didn't have to pay anymore royalties.
He saw the hand writing on the wall, sold the whole
shebang to an Investment banker from back east that was rolling up a lot of companies (english & western). The venture
capitalist went broke buying these companies with these "hot products". They only lasted a few years. Everything
was sold again at a big loss to another saddlemaker who had done well with the Tucker saddle in the trailriding
field. The only one who made out here was the banker! Circle WHO? His brother-in-law moved to the other side of Yokum
and started another saddlery. He's making some serious roping and barrel racing saddles; double j?
best story is about saddletrees & treemakers. One of these have been in business for many years. The oldest
of the family and most knowledgeable is now gone. The son & grandkids are still at it though. It's a real find
to get a saddlemaker who can ride, shape, and pattern his own trees.
Once they find one of those he's treated very special. But as that saddle/pattern maker gets sucessful
the price of trees gets higher. Credit is extended & the patterns are kept in a fireproof vault so I could view
them with reassurance that they'll be there for me if I ever needed them. (like in case of a fire)
Yep, son #2 likes to build saddles on trees that match the
ones that were "to be exclusive" to the patternmaker / saddler, (as he was assured by gramps
before he passed on).
#1 son runs the tree operation &
dad is later out building saddles full time, copying trees & leather patterns of this good old boy saddlemaker.
After the saddlemaker sells a million dollars worth in one month by mailing a new catalog , the tree company
burns to the ground! I get the offer to negociate going into business with Dad the saddlemaker / treemaker and
he'll get me up and going again. I refuse!
#1 claims dad emptied the vault & set the fire. Strange, but the trees the tree company offers today seem to
have bars with all the flare & great seat shape designed into them for Ortho-Flex.
They're everywhere as "gaited horse saddles" & others. Only problem is: the trees were shaped
for a panel system designed to flatten out the weight bearing surface. They were never shaped by me to
be used on a horse's back direct.
If this son
#1 ever rode a horse thousands of miles he'd know just like grandpa; you don't ever make tree bars with so much
flare on the ends and curve in the middle. It's a rocking chair on the horse's back until the horse can't
take the pain in the middle anymore. (3 to 4 weeks of every-other-day riding)
Everybody's using them in
all kinds of saddles with that special tree that's made to "fit" all those horses standing out there with
there backs & bellies dropped. That equi-fit back comes up 2" at a walk or trot and the tree's
the rocking chair. You and some respected saddlerys are buying this "fit & flex stuff" for "great
shoulder blade movement" Guess who the good ole boy saddle/patternmaker was?
you got it, Len Brown
|THE TREE'S FLEX PANELS CAUSED THE WHITE MARKS
|THESE PICTURES WERE SENT BY A CLINICIAN from California.