I have been riding in my treeless Ansur for a couple of weeks now and while it is a beautifully made saddle, it certainly isn't the miracle I was hoping for. It is too low in the pommel to clear either Gandalf's or Max's wither even with the shims in place. I have had to use a front riser pad to get some clearance. Admittedly, it isn't the Ansur pad - just a normal one (the same as you recommended windhorsesue
). I'll get some feedback from Ansur once I've taken some pix. They are very keen to help.
The other thing that really worries me is that, having insufficent channel clearance, it puts pressure on the length of horses spine under the seat (this is with the front riser pad on). I can tell that because after riding for about an hour, when I take off the saddle, there is an even sweat pattern everywhere except the spine which is dry and even rubbed on Max. I guess the advantage of a well fitting tree from the horse's point of view is that it keeps your weight off their spine.
The last time I rode Max with the Ansur, he was VERY spooky, forward and when he shied, I fell off - not recommended at my age!. I know I wouldn't have fallen off with my Aussie stock saddle or my English Spa saddle. He shied to the left and I would have stayed on but the saddle slipped around to the left and he then shied to the right at this scary thing hanging off his side so I was a goner!
I'm thinking it slipped partly because it is treeless and partly because I was using a new Cair girth http://www.stirrups.co.nz/site/product.php?productid=821
. They are quite thick (full of air) under the horse and I reckon would slip around more. Maybe I didn't have it tight enough, but I hate tightening it too much!
I hope this doesn't sound too much like I criticising the saddle. Maybe, once I get the padding and the saddle cloths right, it will be perfect. But I am disappointed that I have adjust something that is brand new and very expensive. It also teaches me (again) about my tendency to expect miracles.
People that really care about their product welcome realistic evaluation, especially if things can be pinpointed by such careful and complete descriptions of what is happening as you provided.
I wish, myself, that treeless, and for that matter, treed, saddles were built from molds of the individual horse's back, and using video of the horse, bare, in motion from side, top, and rear.
And that the material that replaces the hard tree be found that is both forgiving to the horse's back while protecting it well, and yet with sufficient body to not collapse under the rider's weight, or during energetic maneuvers.
Something tells me it's out there, but the technical aspects of working with it may have not come as far as the saddlery yet.
I can't see where your evaluation of the product would be taken as too critical since it it is neither excessive nor just blind ranting.
Ansur are neighbors of mine, and I of course want them to do well by folks. And I believe they will in this instance. (Out here anyone within a hundred miles is a neighbor).
Keep us posted on your and their progress.
PS I came near to being unseated a few months back in similar circumstances with a treed saddle. It had to be padded up in the front for the throat to clear the horse's withers.
In saddling I somehow managed to flip one side shim backward.
When I mounted he jiggled around a bit and I didn't hear his message, but as we left the shelter I was using for a mounting block, he most decidedly let me know.
A couple of bounds sideways, and the old expert rider
was grabbing leather like any tenderfoot.
I had the rare good sense (or sufficient terror) to get off and check the gear, and found my goof.
Apologized profusely to Dakota (of course slipping him treats to ease my conscience) and fixed it and had a nice training ride that day.
I'm so sorry you fell, Andi, and hope you are okay now. We just don't bounce like once we could.