Getting the right fit for your horse
Kuda Saddles are available in 2 saddle trees types, Leather-Flex Tree and Equi-Fit Flexible EFT. Also, we have the option of the Equi-Fit Classic EFC upon request.
The Kuda LEATHER-FLEX TREE saddles are not TREELESS SADDLES. Our Leather Trees are real trees made from several layers of high-quality vegetable-tanned leather and high-density foams sewn together to shape the form of a saddle tree and a metalhead plate assembled. The metal head plate or metal front arc on some models stabilize the tree and keep the saddle's shape.
When fitting a KUDA LEATHER-FLEX TREE saddles, the goal of fit is as usual: the best possible fit of the bars to the horse's back to distribute the rider weight as evenly and extensively spread as possible, keeping the rider off the spine and surrounding ligaments, providing a seat for good rider position, with good stirrups placing and girth position and providing balance and comfort for the horse and rider.
KUDA LEATHER-FLEX TREE saddles are suitable for almost all kinds of horses. Even hard to fit backs like very short horses or horses with strong shoulders or high withers can be equipped with a KUDA LEATHER-FLEX TREE SADDLE.
KUDA LEATHER-FLEX TREE saddles are available on six gullet widths. Narrow to Wide gullet (5.5" to 6.5") widths will generally fit Paso Finos, other Gaited Horses, Thoroughbred's, Stock Horses, some Arab derivatives, and Riding Ponies. The XWide to XXXWide (7.0"- 8.0") Leather-flex Tree Gullets will be a better choice for Clyde crosses, Quarter Horses, and Draft crosses. However, this is also the right width for horses that measure narrower (say 6") and are still in the process of 'muscling-up' or needing the muscle-up.
This is not an exhaustive list of horse breeds. However, the breeds listed will give you an idea of 'type' and general back conformation. We also acknowledge that not all horses of the same breed have the same back conformation. Some horses may only measure 4 or 5 inches on their Wither Tracing. This is quite normal for a horse with a prominent wither. The 6.0"-6.5" Gullet will still work wonderfully well with a 3/4" to a 1" Felt or a Shim-able Saddle Pad. The entire range of Kuda Saddles are short front to back; therefore, they make an excellent choice for short backed breeds such as Pasos and Arabs.
In moderate muscle atrophy cases, using a shim-able saddle pad with useful quality inserts and cleverly placed tapered edge shims can aid saddle fit until the horse has been re-conditioned. The top-line has been restored from correct riding/groundwork and a proper fitting saddle. We can most certainly guide you here. Shimming is also recommended when the horse requires additional shoulder clearance due to conformation issues or is built 'downhill'. A shoulder shim will balance the saddle for the rider, which is essential when riding horses that are naturally constructed downhill—more information on shimming further down this page.
EQUI-FIT FLEXIBLE TREE (EFT)
Construction: Conventional four parts – fork, cantle, and two bars. A rigid fork and cantle assembled with flexible bars. The rigid fork and cantle maintain proper bar rafter angle and spread while the flexible bars allow the tree to bend along with your horse’s spine.
Materials: Forks and cantles – most are identical to EFC, fiberglass-covered wood/plywood. We offer a limited number of styles molded of a structural elastomer reinforced with a fiberglass mesh. Bars – EFF bars are molded of a material similar to a rubber-like work boot sole. This state-of-the-art elastomer owes its flexibility to the molecular structure; it does not come from an added softening agent that will eventually evaporate, leading to drying out and cracking.
Fits: The flexibility allows independent modification of the bar rafter angle front and rear. This will enable us to fit a broad spectrum of back types more appropriately. There are only two flex tree models to choose from: The D Fit (the Quarter Horse fit) and the LT fit (the Gaited Horse fit).
Please note: both tree types D and LT are suitable for short backed horses, as they are explicitly made for Kuda Flex Saddles, which are made specifically for short backed horses.
To eliminate any uncertainty regarding Equi-Fit ® saddle trees and the saddles built on them, Steele Saddle Tree Company introduces Fit to Be Seen® (FTBS), the Equi-Fit ® saddle tree fit identification and demonstration system. FTBS consists of nine 'fit forms'. These fit forms are fiberglass moldings that duplicate precisely nine of the most widely used fits in our Equi-Fit ® saddle tree line.
When placed on the horse's back, the fit forms allow the fit to be seen unobstructed by the saddle skirts, rigging, and stirrup leathers. We realize that not everyone is a fit expert, but serious fit problems are usually evident with an unobscured view.
It is impossible to accurately describe the bottom of a saddle tree's three-dimensional shape using three measurements or a breed-specific name. Absent universally accepted and utilized standards, FTBS enables us to identify and demonstrate a cross-section of our wide variety of fits.
The picture below explains some saddle tree terms that you will need to familiarize yourself with before using the fit to be Seen Tree Fit Kit:
A: Illustrates the amount of Rock or Rocker a tree has.
B: Shows the bar's degree of twist and the way the bar curves to the side going from front to rear.
C & D: Illustrates the flare of the curve up at the front and rear of the bars.
Diagram courtesy of "The Western
Horses Pain-Fee Back and Saddle Fit
Book" by Joyce Harman.
Rafter Angle relates to the bars' angle from the center of the gullet to the lowest edge of the bars. Also referred to as the angle of the forks:
Quarter Horse Fit
D - Approximate 92-degree front rafter angle.
Good front flare, bow and upturned tails to avoid bridging and bar edge pressure points.
Gaited Horse Fit
Steeper rear rafter angle, additional front flare and more bow relative to the 'D' fit.
(Generally a longer wait time applies for this tree style).
The photos above show the shells belonging to the 'Fit to be Seen' Equi-Fit Saddle Tree Fit Kit. These are lightweight replicas of the Equi-Fit Flexible trees available in the Kuda Flex Saddle range that you can try on your horse before ordering your new Kuda Flex Saddle. They are set at 6.5" gullet width, so they will not tell you what gullet width your horse requires, but they will tell you which bar shape is most suited to your horse's back shape.
Equi-Fit® Classic trees feature the widest range of fits available of all our tree lines. Included are all ten fits represented by FTBS plus numerous variations of them. In addition we produce a number of ‘exclusive’ fits. These are fits designed to individual saddler specifications, produced exclusively for and available only from the saddler named on the ‘Exclusive Design’ hang tag supplied with their trees.
- Wood Tree
- Fiberglass or Rawhide covered
All of the gullet widths listed are available in both styles of flex trees. Please note that longer wait times apply if we do not have the tree style you need in the model, seat size, and gullet width required. There are so many possible combinations that we can't have every tree ready to go. If the tree needs to be specially ordered from Equi-Fit, then additional wait times will apply.