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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Horse Veterinarian
Category: Horse Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 1204
Experience:  Board Certified Equine Surgeon, Lameness and Sports Medicine Specialist DVM, BSc
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We have a gaited horse, a tennessee. I just purchased a

Customer Question

Hi we have a gaited horse, a tennessee walker. I just purchased a Circle y Flex tree saddle. We have a great horse trainer. I know the saddle fits the horse. However, I belatedly just learned of some of the concerns about flex tree saddles and how the trees do not flex and put all of the pressure in one spot on the back of the horse. What I read on line dated back to 2011. I did not see anything more recent. Will this saddle cause a sore spot or worse for my horse? He is going to be used for trail riding and the riders are both over 150 lbs. Should I purchase a gaited saddle that has a standard tree? Please advise as to what is being suggested and or observed by vets today. Thank you.
Dick Shear
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Horse Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.


I have treated many horses for back pain caused by improperly fitting saddles and the results can be very detrimental. As far as the flex tree saddles in the gaited horse, I would avoid it. There was some 'research' that indicated that the flex trees were not doing what they were designed to do and I would say from a clinical aspect of seeing horses with back pain issues related to saddle fit and subsequent damage to the interspinous ligaments of the spines - causing kissing spine issues in some cases as well, I would recommend that you do consider looking at a standard tree saddle. I would say that it is going to be very important that you consult your trainer about this issues and potentially even look at having a saddle fitter work with you. Make sure the saddle fitter has experience with gaited horses. Many horse people do not have experience with gaited horses and there are differences in the approach to looking at the way they move and whether there is pain associated with different tack. To date, there is no scientific data on flex tree saddles and their fitness for the horses but a good trainer and saddle fitter would be the best way to approach this issue. Hope this is helpful. All the best