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Compare Specialized Saddles to other Saddles

Here we compare Specialized Saddles to the:

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Compare Specialized Saddles to Treeless Saddles

With no tree to distribute pressure, treeless saddles put pressure where its applied. When rider is sitting, pressure is applied in a relatively small circular area causing pressure over 5 psi and restricted blood flow to this area (shown in yellow and red).

When rider rises to post in stirrups the pressure is applied to apex of angle, along spine or center of back. This is a place you never want to put pressure because the vertical spinal processes of the spinal column have no muscling over them, only skin and nerves, and pressure here is painful for the horse. Try letting someone put their finger in the center of your back and push to see what I mean. Pads with foam inserts can help minimize this spinal pressure but it still exists. Compare the image of Supracore pad, and pad with foam inserts under a treeless saddle shown here to see what your horse's back experiences. While a treeless saddle can be an improvement over a very bad fitting tree, it isn't nearly as effective toward the goal of even pressure distribution and low psi as a precision fit system like that found in the Specialized Saddle. Please examine the pressure pad images shown below for graphical proof (as you scroll down you will see the images).*



Shown here (below) is the same rider on the same horse in a Specialized Saddle. All pressure is under 3 psi (excellent range) and allows good freedom in shoulder areas.



Compare Specialized Saddles to Flex Panel Saddles

Flex Panel type saddles, including Ortho Flex, American Flex and ROC have flexible plastic panels attached at four points. If you push in the middle of the panel you notice they flex, offering no support in the middle, where the horse's back is best suited to carry weight. The only place they support is at the four points of attachment to the tree. These attachment bolts are often positioned over the loins and shoulders. The pressure pad image shows four circles of pressure when testing these type saddles, with no support in the center. Please examine the pressure pad images shown below for graphical proof (as you scroll down you will see the images).*



Here (below) is an image of same weight rider in a Specialized Saddle. Note the even, light pressure spread evenly along the bars with slightly higher pressure under rider's seat.



Compare Specialized Saddles to Traditional Western Saddles

The traditional western saddle often is too tight due to substantial padding. The tradition of using both a blanket and pad, combined with the popularity of today's thicker pads, often creates bridging. Complicating the issue is the use of bulky, thick leather, double-thick skirting encasing the tree, and extending two to three inches in front of the bars of the tree. This often pinches the shoulders and interferes with the tree fitting in the manner it was designed to.

Specialized Saddles have eliminated this unnecessary leather in front of bars and shortened bars slightly so shoulder movement isn't as compromised as on most other western saddles For more on the effect of padding and how it affects saddle fit see "The Pad Paradox" article by clicking here. Evaluating saddle fit on a fleece-lined western saddle is difficult.

Specialized Saddles builds in the padding and nothing to distort fit is added after you adjust it to fit your horse. The smooth surface of the neoprene pads on a Specialized Saddle lets you see exactly how your saddle fits and the adjustable system lets you dial it in exactly for a perfect fit without using any tools!*

As a result of saddle either being too narrow or too much padding, all pressure is on withers/shoulders. This failure of saddle to fit properly results in it being lifted off back, in center, and some remaining pressure is on loins where contact resumes. This condition is referred to as "bridging", like a bridge spanning a gully, resting only on the front and back. Horses experiencing this will be reluctant to extend their gaits and this much pressure will cause pain, tissue damage and associated white hairs.

Here (below) is an image of same weight rider in a Specialized Saddle. Note even, light pressure spread evenly along the bars with slightly higher pressure under rider's seat.



Compare Specialized Saddles to Traditional English Saddles

English saddles are made using flocked panels. The shape of the surface of these panels are curved or convex. That way, no matter what the angle of the horse, there is some contact in the middle of that curved panel. The use of a curved surface results in a fairly narrow strip of contact resulting in a rather small area to distribute the weight of saddle and rider.*

Specialized English Saddles are the only saddles built with flat bars rather than flocked panels, enabling the weight of saddle and rider to be distributed over a much larger surface. Please examine the pressure pad images shown below for graphical proof (as you scroll down you will see the images).

* All images shown here were taken from a fitting session in Burbank California in which people brought their saddles to check fit on their horses. We have made no effort to negatively portray the fit image of any saddle.

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