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Saddle Trees and Panels Explained

Selecting the right tree can be a complex task and is best left to a qualified saddle fitter. However when thinking about the correct fit for your horse, it is worth noting there are many other ‘tree’ points to consider. Naturally correct width fitting comes high on the list; however the shape of the tree head, height & angle of the rails and flatness from the front to the back can make a huge difference in creating the perfect fit for your horse. At Harry Dabbs we offer a choice of 7 Dressage trees, 5 Jump trees & 4 GP trees; combined with our flexible manufacturing approach this gives a huge selection of saddles to choose from. It is essential that the right tree is chosen for the shape of your horse, wool flocking can reduce pressure when the wrong tree is selected, however over time even the smallest amount of pressure will build causing unnecessary pain and discomfort. Why start with a tree that only nearly fits?

Trees

When checking the fit of the saddle, your saddler will look to make sure that the shape, width and length of the saddle tree is correct for the horse, and that the panels follow the natural curve of the horses back evenly. Any unevenness in the flocking could potentially cause unnecessary pressure and avoidable back problems.  It is important that the gullet of the saddle doesn’t come into contact with the spine at any point. If the gullet is too narrow this could pinch the spine, if too wide the saddle could start to shift sideways. The panels should be symmetrical, misshaped panels will cause discomfort and uneven pressure. Here at Harry Dabbs we offer two types of panel options, traditional English which is available in our Classic range, and the Performance Panel which is used in the Harry Dabbs and Platinum ranges. The performance panel is shaped at the back to leave the horse’s back a fraction sooner than the English panel. This allows the horse to move more freely keeping the lumbar region free. When the horse engages and rises through the back, contact is made with the saddle but not pressure. This enables the horse to be more flexible and supple prompting engagement of the powerful hind quarters. Both panel types are designed to free the trapezius muscle at the front of the saddle. This keeps the scapular (shoulder) free to rotate and allows the horse to extend more. In addition to the above we can also provide panels that are deeper towards the front; this is ideal for horses that require additional support lower down the rib cage. The above information gives an insight into the complexities of choosing the right tree and panel option for your horse. To avoid unnecessary pain, distress and expense we strongly recommend that you use a qualified saddle fitter for this task.

Panels

Here at Harry Dabbs Saddle Makers we believe that a saddle isn’t something you just sit on, we view it as an important piece of performance equipment designed to encourage the best possible connection between you and your horse. Harmony is the key to a good relationship; this can only be established if you choose the right saddle for you, your horse and the intended discipline. Here at Harry Dabbs Saddle Makers we combine modern technology with traditional methods. We manufacturer our own laminated wooden spring trees which despite the introduction of carbon fibre, synthetic and adjustable trees still remains the favoured option by the majority of saddle fitters. The key benefits of laminated wood trees are the huge flexibility in design options, combined with the rider ‘feel’ provided. Our saddle trees are guaranteed for the life of the saddle and are available in all sizes.
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Harry Dabbs Unit 2, 75 Midland Road Walsall, WS1 3QQ Tel: 01922 612238 Fax: 01922 647691 info@harrydabbs.co.uk