County Saddlery Issues Report on Adjustable Tree-Point Saddle Problem

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New Testing Reveals that Spreading Saddle Trees can create serious problems

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When a horse changes, the width of the tree is only one of many factors to consider when fitting a saddle.

Whether Spreading or Narrowing, Adjusting Trees Can Make Matters Worse

County Saddlery today issued the following report detailing the saddle problem of adjustable tree points, finding that while an appealing concept, adjustable trees and adjusting trees often fail to solve existing saddle problems and can make matters worse:

Adjustable Trees or Interchangeable Gullet Plates

Because the shape of a narrow horse’s withers is different from the shape of medium-wide or extra-wide withers, simply replacing the head (front) of the tree with a wider version of the same shape does not solve the problem. For example, if a narrow horse’s withers are shaped somewhat like a triangle and a wider horse’s withers are more rounded, widening the triangle shape is no solution. The shape fails to conform to the withers’ shape, and often the result is rocking or uneven contact along the points and legs of the tree.

The Problem with Spreading or Narrowing Tree Points

Using a vice-like tool to open or close a tree can result in some of the problems previously described. Other problems that can occur are broken, weakened or uneven tree points. Spreading or narrowing the angle of the legs/bars of the tree can create a fulcrum at the base of the withers that can cause pressure and rocking. Changing the angles of the points and the legs of the tree after a tree has been finished with webbing and seated may also change the tension of that webbing and alter the feel of the seat.

While adjustable trees and the practice of altering trees after they are made is an option for any manufacturer, many choose not to do it for the reasons previously cited. Other manufacturers may agree to do it, but the alterations may invalidate the warranty.

A fulcrum may be created at the base of the withers, which can cause pressure and rocking. Horses change over time for many reasons, including change of season, training techniques and intensity, feed, injury and age. When a horse changes, the width of the tree is one factor of many to consider when fitting a saddle.

A key point to remember: if the horse changes enough that the saddle needs changing, the old saddle still has significant value. Often, the difference between the value of a new saddle and the current saddle is little more than the cost of trying to adjust the tree and deal with the problems that may result.

For more information on tree points and other saddle issues, readers should visit County Saddlery at


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