Speaking of surface area...

Posted by RodandDenise on April 6, 2012

We are no longer building saddle trees, but we have two videos about how Western saddles fit horses available on our website.


Our third Principle when it comes to saddle fit is to spread the Pressure over as much surface area as possible.  Something you will notice on true hand made trees is that the bars are wider than production trees, giving you a lot more surface area.  So we thought we would give you a visual comparison between an older style synthetic tree, an old wood and rawhide production tree, our latest iddie-bitty kiddie tree, our "regular" bars and our Wade bars.

Bar length

2012_April_6_1_Ralide_bar_length.jpg 2012_April_6_2_Bowden_bar_length.jpg
2012_April_6_3_Kids_tree_bar_length.jpg 2012_April_6_4_regular_bar_length.jpg

Bar length on the synthetic tree was just shy of 22".  The old production tree measured in at 23".  Our kid's tree with the 11" seat length was 19".  The bar length on our regular trees vary with the thigh length and seat length.  We have set 22" to be our minimum and our maximum can go out to 24 3/4".  Beyond those numbers the cantle gets moved forward or back on the bars to make the right seat length.  This Wade measured in at 24" and the regular at 22 3/8". 

Width of the front bar pad

2012_April_6_6_Ralide_front_bar_pad_width.jpg 2012_April_6_7_Bowden_front_bar_pad_width.jpg
2012_April_6_8_Kids_tree_front_bar_pad_width.jpg 2012_April_6_9_regular_front_bar_pad_width.jpg
2012_April_6_10_Wade_front_bar_pad_width.jpg Synthetic - just under 5"
Production - 5 1/2"
Kid's tree - 5 3/8"
Regular - 6 3/8"
Wade - 6 1/2"


Width of the back bar pad

2012_April_6_11_Ralide_back_bar_pad_width.jpg 2012_April_6_12_Bowden_back_bar_pad_width.jpg
2012_April_6_13_Kids_tree_back_bar_pad_width.jpg 2012_April_6_14_regular_back_bar_pad_width.jpg
2012_April_6_15_Wade_back_bar_pad_width.jpg Synthetic - 5 1/4"
Production - 5 1/4"
Kid's tree - just over 5 1/4"
Regular - 6 1/8"
Wade - 6 3/8"


Width at the center of the bar

2012_April_6_16_Ralide_center_bar_width.jpg 2012_April_6_17_Bowden_center_bar_width.jpg
2012_April_6_18_kids_tree_center_bar_width.jpg 2012_April_6_19_regular_center_bar_width.jpg
2012_April_6_20_Wade_center_bar_width.jpg Synthetic - 3"
Production - 3 1/8"
Kid's tree - 3"
Regular - 3 1/2"
Wade - 3 1/2"
Note:  We will narrow bars in the center on request.



So when it comes to width of bars, this kid's tree - made for under 10 year olds - has more surface area than the synthetic tree and just a little less than the production trees that are made for adult riders.  Our regular bars are almost an inch wider and the Wades are over an inch wider than the old production tree.  Reason?  Most likely cost.  The common woods used in production trees come in 6" or 8" widths.  Why pay for 8" of width when you are only going to use 1/2" of that extra 2"?  So the bars in wood based production trees are all less than 6" wide.  Why the old type of synthetic ones are so narrow is probably to keep the weight down.

However, the increased surface area in our bars acts to dissipate the rider's weight over more area leading to less pressure under any one part of the saddle.  It also shows why even if the tree is riding a bit high or low on the horse compared to the ideal, it still has the same amount or even more surface area on the horse as a tree with an ideal fit but with less surface area on their bars.  So long as you don't break Principle #2 - No Poking (no areas that dig in) - a tree with more surface area in its bars will fit a wider range of back types than one with less surface area.  Just one more reason to use a true hand made tree.

Posted by on 
This is great :) Very nice and clear on a point I keep making about trees, particularly those Ralide trees.
Hey, you mention the seat size on the kid's tree, but not the others. Are they comparable?
Posted by RodandDenise on 
G. Thanks for the comment. I am comparing bar width here and not length because they are all different seat lengths, and the seat length isn't really a good measurement anyway. It will give different numbers with the same amount of room in the saddle for the rider depending on cantle specs and fork angle. I've linked to our seat length versus thigh length page under the first collection of pictures up top now in case you haven't read why that is so and why we compare real size via thigh length. So with that comparison, the Ralide has a 9 1/2" thigh length, the old Bowden a 9 3/4" thigh length, the kid's tree a 6 3/8" thigh length, the regular tree an 8" thigh length and the Wade a 9 1/4" thigh length.

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