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Wade Tree Saddles
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Carey
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 Posted: Sun Aug 2nd, 2009 01:55 am
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I was hoping you all here might have some opinions about Wade Tree Saddles.  Which ones are good,  and what to look for in a good one.   I have been riding in a relatively cheap one, and I like it for me, but I do not think it fits my horses well.  So I have been thinking of getting one made or possibly a XXXX with a 93 degree tree.  But my experience with these type of saddles is limited,  my background is mostly English and I do ride in a Dressage saddle usually-- but being that I do a lot of trail riding and I live in Montana I would like to get a decent Western Style saddle that will actually fit my horses.  I do not want a heavy saddle,  but I like a deep seat with close contact.  And for my youngest horse I have yet to find a saddle that she likes other than english saddles because she is so very wide.

Last edited on Sun Aug 2nd, 2009 06:18 am by DrDeb

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Aug 2nd, 2009 06:17 am
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Carey, we can have this discussion but you need to not name any manufacturers. You have to discuss the question "on principles." This is why I have had to go in and edit your post.

You appear to realize that there are a number of different manufacturers who claim to produce a "Wade" tree. However, there is only one saddle shop in the world that actually does produce the Wade tree as designed by Mr. Wade and his friend back in the 1940's. That saddle shop is located in Sheridan, Wyoming.

This goes right along with industry practice right across the board -- NO terminology means much. In other words, one manufacturer's "Quarter Horse Bars" are not the same size or width as a product, sold under the very same name, produced by someone else. The "womens' saddle" that has a woman's name on it was not designed by a woman, and was not originally designed specifically for women. Only Dave Genadek's "womens' trail saddle" has that distinction to my knowledge. This is just two examples out of many I could cite...."deep seat with close contact" would be another famous one. What indeed do you exactly want there -- if you listen to the salesman, he will B.S. you all night on that one.

So, what I am urging you to do is to rephrase your question or re-frame your thinking so that instead of asking the question of "which manufacturer should I buy from", instead to ask WHY saddles fit or don't fit -- how you can tell -- how someone can design them to fit or what characteristics a particular saddle might have that makes it fit better -- this is what I want you to want to know.

WHY do you think the saddle you have doesn't fit your horse well? Is it pinching someplace? does it ride around on their back or give the horse a rub or sore point? Does it slide back or forward when you're trying to do some work? Are you uncomfortable in it? This is the line of thinking that will empower you rather than leaving you "just another blind consumer."

The most valuable immediate help on this too would be for you to obtain Dave G.'s "About Saddle Fit" DVD program. He sells this at cost. It's a good quality 1-hr. presentation of the PRINCIPLES that underlie saddle design and saddle fit, and we recommend it here constantly. There is no sales pitch on this program whatsoever. Call 1-800-449-7409 to obtain.

Thanks for asking. -- Dr. Deb

 

hurleycane
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 Posted: Sun Aug 2nd, 2009 01:34 pm
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And when you do view David's cd, pay particular attention to the saddle in action on the paint.  I particularly loved watching the saddle on the horse as he moved up the hill.  Gave me an appreciation of what a saddle fit should be.

Carey
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 Posted: Sun Aug 2nd, 2009 02:53 pm
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OK, that helps.  I think the saddle I have now doesn't fit well with 2 of my horses because it causes dry spots behind the shoulder area  after I ride. That is on a not so wide appx QH, and on my wider QH. The younger horse is half percheron and with that particular saddle on she spends the entire time turning back and biting at the saddle-- whereas if I put my Dressage Saddle on her she isn't bothered a bit-  so I think that saddle doesn't fit.

For some reason I have my mind set on a Wade, and maybe I need to change that idea,  but I have always liked the way they feel to me- especially compared to other Western saddles I have tried-  but my experience with them has been about 10 saddles or so.  i will check out Davids DVD.

I like to ride bareback-- and I do a lot because I never can find a saddle that I like-- bareback I am fine WTC,  I was a dancer and I am a Yoga Instuctor so I have a good sense of balance and center- but throw a saddle into the mix and I have a hard time feeling as secure-- drives me a little nuts actually-- other than my old Dressage saddle.  SO that is what makes me think I want a saddle that puts me close to the horse-  and I like deep seated saddles--  I do not like flat seated saddles for some reason.    I even seem to prefer a saddle with a wider twist.  But I would really above all else like a saddle that will fit the variety of horse I ride-- if that is at all possible!!

Thanks for the imput- 

Last edited on Sun Aug 2nd, 2009 03:17 pm by Carey

Carey
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 Posted: Sun Aug 2nd, 2009 06:15 pm
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I have been thinking about this all morning,  so I think my question is,  Are Wade trees properly designed to accomidate the horses back?  I had thought that compared to a more traditional saddle the design of the wade allowed more freedom of movement for the horse--  but I do not know.  Also I am wondering if they only really work on QH or TB type backs-- because although I ride QHs I also ride a draft cross and a Hanoverian who are a bit bigger than a typical QH. 

 

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Aug 2nd, 2009 09:00 pm
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Carey, I have already mentioned above that there is no ONE thing that is a "Wade tree". Unless you have a saddle that was handmade at the aforementioned saddle shop in Sheridan, Wyoming, you do not actually have a "Wade" tree. You just have some kind of tree or other.

What we have to ascertain is what you do in fact have.

The reason you feel comfortable in your old dressage-style saddle is very probably because the stirrup-hangers are placed correctly with respect to the center or deepest part of the seat. However -- we do not know this for sure, because you have not measured your saddle for this. So, my suggestion is that you go out and place this saddle on the horse it fits best, and girth it up. Then stand back a pace and find the point in the seat that appears to be lowest. Then lift up the flap that covers the stirrup hanger, and find the point that is in the center of where the leather hangs down from.

Drop a vertical line from the center (deepest part) of the seat, and another vertical line through the center of where the stirrup leather hangs down from. Then, using a ruler, determine the number of inches that those two lines lie apart.

When you report this number, it will tell me in one stroke not only what sort of saddle you have, but also, since you say you prefer it, what your own "seat" or "style of sitting" actually has been.

As to "close contact" being like bareback: forget it. Riding bareback is preferred by many women for reasons that relate directly to two factors: one, the unique construction of the female lower back and pelvis (see "Knowledge Base" and download the PDF called "Who's Built Best to Ride"); and two, the fact that many horses' thoraxes happen to fit and accommodate this shape.

When you put a saddle on a horse, you are doing that for one major reason: to protect the horse's spine from being struck by your own bodyparts. Blows to the horse's spine, even relatively light blows, are liable to create inflammation in the sensitive bursae that overlie the dorsal spines of the vertebrae -- each and every one of those spines has a bursa. Should the bursae become inflamed, deep ligament pathology, swellings called hydrocoels, and exostosis can follow. These will make your horse temporarily very grumpy and can progress to making him unrideable. This was known even to the ancients: Xenophon warns not even to use wooden grooming tools (sweat strops) on the upper part of a horse's back. And I advise all riders to limit bareback riding time.

There is a tree in a saddle, as you now see, to perform this crucial function of preventing you from touching the centerline of the horse's back. That is what the tree is for. There is a fad currently for so-called "treeless" saddles, which supposedly are more comfortable for the horse, sit the rider closer, and so on and so forth. But in truth there are no "treeless" saddles at all; those that are marketed as "treeless" are actually only bar-less. And when they have taken out the bars, they have taken out the only protection the horse ever had, for the bars are the "footings" which guarantee that your weight bears upon your horse's ribcage rather than upon his spine.

When a saddle maker builds a saddle, he builds the seat on top of the tree. So first and foremost, to be comfortable for the horse, the tree must fit the horse. This was what Mr. Wade and his friend had in mind back in the 1940's. They designed and produced a prototype tree (that has been faithfully copied by the fellows at the Sheridan saddle shop ever since). This tree had wider bars and more "flare" at the throat or gullet than other saddletrees of the day. It was sized for the Quarter Horses of the time, which are narrower than many of today's examples of the breed, but the PRINCIPLES are the same. Dave Genadek's saddles are designed with these same considerations in mind, and more. So are those of a few other makers whom I know; Steve Gonzales of Oregon is one of those. You see that I am naming names here, but these men are Friends of the Institute. There may be other manufacturers that you can locate who make or use the right kind of tree: but in order to locate them, you will have to understand the principles, because what you are going to have to be able to do is identify, on sight, the right kind of tree when you see it on the saddle rack. Relying upon the manufacturer's or maker's description or labelling will not help you at all!

But back to the "close contact" stuff: since to be useful a saddle must have a tree, and since the seat must be built upon the tree, that's the closest contact you can get. A good saddlemaker can add or take out padding; can redistribute padding; can make the twist wider or narrower (within limits); can give the fore arch or the cantle arch more or less height or more or less slope. He can ramp the front of the seat or have it be flat and open. He can design the seat to be built upward from, or stacked on top of, the tree; or he can "sling" (suspend) the seat between fore arch and cantle arch in the manner of the Vaquero saddles of Spain. You have all these options. The options you do NOT have with a quality saddlemaker are to cut away any part of the width of the bars, and you do NOT have the option of an "in-skirt" rigging. These latter ideas are widespread in the industry as features that yield "closer rider contact", but they greatly reduce the comfort and fit to the horse, which should be the first priority, never to be sacrificed.

You will come to a more three-dimensional understanding of all this once you view Dave's DVD. Meanwhile you should go measure your saddle and let's see where those stirrup hangers lie with respect to the deepest part of the seat. -- Dr. Deb

Carey
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 Posted: Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 08:58 pm
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From the deepest part of the saddle line to the line of the stirrup is about 2 1/2 inches.  I do know that this saddle says it has the stirrups bars farther back than a more traditional saddle.

I have been through a bunch of English saddles also-- both GP and Dressage-- and I guess I just do not know enough, but at the same time I don't settle for something I am not happy with, or I think the horses are not happy with- I try different ones when I have the chance-- so I really apprieciate you ( Dr Deb) speaking openly about this-- because it is really hard to know with all the advertising and what not.   

I fully agree that a good saddle is essential to the horses ability to carry the weight of the rider--  I just need to find that saddle for me and my horses.  And it is possible that one saddle isn't going to do as I have a variety of backs to fit--  I just sold one of my horse trailers--  so that has gotten me pretty motivated to get a better saddle!!

miriam
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 Posted: Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 10:05 pm
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Hi Carey,

I'm like you, was riding bareback b/c it felt better than those 4 saddles I owned. Luckily I found found D. Genedak who lives and makes saddles here in MN. Getting into this saddle is like stepping into the door of home. I was surprised to learn that the greater percentage of horses do fit a "#2" tree, with the second largest percentage fitting the "#1" tree. Dave G has done tons of work researching this. Buying this saddle was the best investment I've ever made and it fits both my QHs and my three Arab mares.  I still ride bareback for short distances like b/t pastures.

Carey
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 Posted: Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 10:30 pm
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Ok, good to hear-- I ordered Davids DVD-  I am excited to watch it.  I think I can let go of getting a wade -- especially if someone is willing to work with me and my horse situation.  Actually it is pretty exciting-- the idea of getting a saddle that might actually feel good for me and my horses!

I wonder if Davids #2 tree would work on a Draft cross- or if he makes an even wider draft tree- or a Arab/Percheron-- she has an interesting back sort of short but very wide-- I have one of those gullet gages at home-- and she is wider than the super wide!  And she is only 3-- That is part of the reason I want to get a different saddle-- I would like to start doing more with her next year-- and I do not want to have to go down the path I have had to go down with other horses of having to rehab her back-- and right now she has a great back with lots of muscle.   i don't want to cause an up roar--  I don't ride the 3 year old much - but she is saddle broke--meaning she can carry the saddle around no problem- and we have gone for short trail rides and that only started after she turned 3 on May 27.

 

I do have one more question, What is the problem with in skirt rigging-  This is my English background showing yet again-??

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Aug 4th, 2009 06:06 am
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Carey, again -- David's no. 2 tree, or no. 1 tree, or whatever tree -- is 100% guaranteed not to equate to anything that anybody else is doing. I can tell you this doubly in Dave G.'s case since he researches, designs, and produces his own trees, which is a rarity in the industry. The ONE AND ONLY way to know if a certain tree is going to fit a certain horse is to put the saddle on the horse and see if it fits.

If you do business with Dave, or with any other reputable saddle maker, they will communicate with you on the fit to the greatest extent that is possible and practicable. This is because getting the right tree is crucial to the whole rest of the project; it does no good at all to build a fancy housing over a tree that does not fit. Some makers will want a plaster cast of your horse's back; some will want wire molds; some will want measurements; most want photos. If you're lucky enough to live near the maker with whom you will be doing business, they may even personally come out and measure or size your horse. If they don't actually visit, you will be doing numerous phone calls and/or EMails until the maker is sure that he has the right tree. One of the things I admire about Dave G. is that he will not agree to make you a saddle if he does not have a tree that will fit your horse. The flip side of this is my general mistrust of so-called "professional saddle fitters": 99% of the time, they are commissioned salespeople for some saddle company or other, and they have a vested interest NOT in getting you the best fit in the cosmos, but just the best fit that THEIR COMPANY can provide.

As to the question about in-skirt rigging: if you've ordered the DVD as you say, you will see very plainly on that program the answer to your question. In general terms, it is that you cannot tie straps to just any part of a saddle and expect the system as a whole to either fit or function correctly. This is probably going to be very important in your case, as you report in a previous post that your saddle leaves dry spots and/or rubs on both sides under the fore arch. This hints that you are attempting to compensate for wrong tree fit -- the saddle wants to scoot back -- by over-tightening the front cinch. So this question will also be answered on the DVD, and you will learn that instead of trying to make your horse into a peanut with the front cinch, you need to gain the skills to get him broke to wear BOTH cinches, the front one snugger than the back but BOTH of them snugged up so that they are functional. The back cinch isn't just for roping!

The lack of rear cinch is also a major reason that many English-type saddles don't work right, even when the tree is pretty close to ideal; the Y-fork rigging commonly found on military, police, and enduro-type saddles is a good solution. On the DVD, Dave will show you several options for correcting these problems that come from the rigging sub-system.

Also: thanks for measuring your saddle. Whatever saddle that is, it has a good seat, because the two vertical lines lie apart only the distance from the instep of your foot to the ball of the foot. I would take anything below 4 inches to be very good; so many saddles are MUCH wider apart than this, which makes sitting properly almost impossible; one is fighting the saddle all the time. So, that you like this correct saddle, tells me number one that you do sit just fine, and two that you are going to like Dave's saddles very much, because that's the way he builds them too. When you view the DVD there is a section on there that illustrates what happens -- it is terrible for the horse also -- when the deepest part of the seat lies more than 4" behind the center of the hanging-point for the stirrup leather or the fender. Unfortunately in English, Western, and Australian-style saddles having the seat far behind the stirrups is by far the most common, and this is one of the major points that makes it difficult for me, also, to obtain a saddle that I can enjoy riding in. -- Dr. Deb

Carey
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 Posted: Tue Aug 4th, 2009 04:31 pm
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Dr Deb,  Thank you for answering my questions.  That really helps.  I am going to start talking to the different makers and see what I can come up with to fit these horses properly-- Hopefully the DVD will get here soon- so I can try to fix some of the problems in the mean time.  Thank you again. Carey

Blaze from another computer
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 Posted: Tue Aug 4th, 2009 10:24 pm
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Hi Dr. Deb,

Is there a way to measure this on a western saddle?

When browsing through a tack store it is obvious that some western saddles have the stirrups hung way out the front - but is there a way to measure how much?

Maybe it's on Dave's tape and I just don't remember. I do have a copy and do need to review it.

Thanks,

Erin

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Aug 4th, 2009 11:01 pm
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Yes, Erin, it's the same on both Western and English saddles, or any type of saddle. Just lift up the flap that covers the "root" of the stirrup hanger or fender, find the center of that, and then drop a vertical line through that (it's a visual vertical). Then step back a pace, look where you think the deepest part of the seat is, and drop another vertical through that. Then whip out that ruler you've been carrying in your backpack and find the distance between those two vertical lines.

And yes, very many Western saddles are built so that the stirrups are hung 'way out to the front. Originally these saddles were intended for one purpose, and that was gymkhana events such as keyhole race, pole bending, or barrel racing, which are the "Western" equivalents of "English" jumping. These saddles, exactly like those meant for jumping, have the stirrup hangers far to the front because during the time the saddle is being used for what it it meant for, the rider stands or half-stands in the stirrups. When you stand or half-stand, you bring your hips over your feet.

But when you are just sitting, then your hips in this type of saddle will be behind your feet. This is why, if you are in 3D event for example, you either have to jump in your "dressage" saddle, or else own two saddles. I prefer the former option; but the latter option is OK too so long as the rider is light in weight and light in technique (because even a jumping school requires warm-up time on the flat).

The other type of saddle in which we find the seat far behind the stirrup hangers is the "saddle-seat" or "Park" saddle. This saddle was originally a variant, and not a very extreme variant, of the English flat saddle; and it was originally intended to do two things: one, fit the huge shoulders and high withers of the American Saddlebred horse; and two, be suitable for riding those horses in the Baucheriste style of High School, for which they were originally bred.

However, as the true knowledge of this school faded out, and cheap methods and wrong understandings were substituted, the seat on these saddles was made longer and longer, so as to carry the rider's weight far behind the withers, again so as to better enable leveraging the horse's back down so as to induce a high poll and high knee and hock action. This is a cheap, destructive riding philosophy, but widespread in a limited part of the U.S.

So, Erin, you can go off measuring saddles to your heart's content. Remember only that if you're doing it in a saddle shop, to try to set the saddle up reasonably similarly to how you think it would go on your horse's back, because if you tilt the saddle up or down very much, it can expand or contract the distance between the vertical lines to that degree, and thus introduce some inaccuracy. It should still be obvious, though, that 90% or better of all the saddles you will see in any tack shop are totally unsuitable to school in or to ride, while sitting, for any length of time.

I have to add that I was just reading our local newspaper the other day, and saw an article where they interviewed a man who runs a peach-processing and packing plant. And he was saying that in the last couple of years, he has been forced to change the way he does business, change the suppliers from whom he will buy peaches, because nobody in their right mind will buy the picked-while-dead-green, totally flavorless peaches they put out in the grocery stores. I am among those consumers for sure; the only time I eat peaches nowadays is when they come in season off my own trees, especially that wonderful old Elberta cling. Many people today have forgotten what a peach is supposed to taste like. And just in the same way, there are many people who now own horses who have never sat in a properly designed saddle. Consumer demand is the one and only thing that will change this situation, and that begins with an educated consumer.

Why Equine Studies Institute exists. -- Dr. Deb

DAM
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 Posted: Fri Aug 7th, 2009 12:43 pm
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I agrre with Dr Deb about a lot what are called Wades are not realy.  I hear people say that they would like to buy a Wade but with a thinner fork stock or higher cantle etc.  Once you change any of those dimensions it is no longer a Wade!

Dr Deb, I'd realy like to know your scource for the information about that Wade which came from a shop in Sheridan Wy.  All of the research that I can find only ever says that the first one "came from back east". Which at that time was not known as a Wade, this was before it was given the name.

 For those who may be interested  A certain company (I won't name names) from Pendleton, Or, is credited with the Wade, because it because it first appeared in their catalog as "the Wade". They actualy made the second saddle and then a 3rd one which they improved further. Cliff Wade was a neighbor of the Dorrances in Oregon and Cliff had a saddle that his dad had brought from somewhere "back east". I always assumed that "back east would have meant in the estern states, but it could have just refered to Sheridan, Wy as that is east of Oregon.  Tom Dorrance liked the saddle, and had the company copy it.  They called it the Wade because that was the name of the owner of the one which they copied the original from.  Dorrance didn't like the first one they made, and had them redo the tree a couple years later.  This was in the late 30's or ealy 40's

I've never heard of anyone being credited with making Cliff Wade's dad's original saddle.  If you have a scource for that information that refers to Sheridan Wy. I'd realy like to  hear about it.


thanks

dam

 

Indy
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 Posted: Fri Aug 7th, 2009 02:07 pm
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If you Google for Wade Saddles in Sheridan, Wy you will find two or three makers. One is a family business that has been around a long time. They have a museum that I would love to visit someday. Check them out. They make saddles fit for a queen (hint).

Did I go to far?
Clara


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