Freeform Treeless Saddles are handmade in Italy using high quality Italian calfskin leather and were first imported into the USA by Candy Kahn in February 2005. Freeform Saddles are treeless saddles, but unlike most treeless saddles, Freeform Treeless Saddles are able to maintain their form. This is because each saddle is made on a form made from an injection foam (a similar process for the foam used for orthotics…firm, but flexible). This form, the Freeform saddle base, is then hand covered in various materials, including Italian calfskin leather.
More Unique Properties
Bases are available in either a standard or cutback (for high withered horses) and in a standard length or shortback length. There are a variety of styles for these bases to suit the needs of the individual rider. The seats that accompany the bases are exchangeable and available in a wide range of “English” sizes (16-19). Keep in mind that a shortback base will not be able to handle a larger sized seat.
The seats are exchangeable as a result of the industrial strength Velcro that attaches each base to its seat. This function allows more than one rider to use the same saddle base.
Back Safety for Your Horse
Freeform has made some wonderful advances with addressing the concerns of riders for their horse’s back in utilizing a treeless saddle. First and foremost, the form with which the saddles are made helps with back clearance in conjunction with a treeless saddle pad. (Note: watch for our next blog entitled "What to Look For in a Saddle Pad"). Secondly, in January 2011, after 6 months of research and development, Freeform unveiled a panel system which is now an option available on all Freeform Saddles made since its introduction. The panels are attached under the saddle and essentially lift the entire saddle up off of the horse and creates a “gullet” down the center of the saddle. This also lessens the need to utilize a specific saddle pad for use with the saddle.
Why Freeform in the First Place?
Candace Kahn, the former owner of Action Rider Tack and Athletic Equine, was intrigued by the idea of treeless saddles when they first came out and started riding in a Torsion in 2001. While very comfortable, these early treeless saddles however lacked “the look” of a traditional saddle. Having grown up riding in English saddles, she thought that the look of treeless saddles needed more finesse. She found that finesse in Freeform Treeless Saddles and began importing them to the USA as soon as possible.
But, Have They Been Thoroughly Tested?
One of the groups of riders who were one of the first to adopt Freeform Treeless Saddles was Endurance riders. Endurance riders are eager to find ways to lighten the load on their horses, but the health of their horses is just as important.
In talking with endurance riders who use Freeform Saddles, some of them put literally over 100,000 miles on their horse using their Freeform without back issues…if that’s not a good test, I’m not sure what is. To date, the Tevis Cup, considered “the world’s best known and most difficult equestrian endurance ride” has seen multiple winners crossing the finish line riding a Freeform Saddle (Tevis and Haggan Cup winners in 2002, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 & 2016 all rode Freeform Saddles to victory).
So, What About You?
If you don’t know someone who rides in a Freeform Saddle, ask around. I bet you know someone who knows someone with a Freeform. Or call Candy, a Freeform Representative (800-511-9771) and enjoy a demo program so you can test drive one of these on your horse and feel the difference for your horse and yourself.
WARNING: there have been horses that have been known to refuse another saddle being put on their back after having been ridden in a Freeform Saddle. They’re THAT comfortable…just sayin’.