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 Tree 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 metal head plate assembled together, the metal head plate or metal front arc on some models, stabilize the tree and keep the shape of the saddle.

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 in order 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 kind of horses. Even hard to fit backs like very short horses or horses with strong shoulders or high withers can be fitted with a KUDA LEATHER-FLEX TREE SADDLE.

KUDA LEATHER-FLEX TREE saddles are available on 6 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 a good width for horses that measure narrower (say 6") and are still in the process of 'muscling-up' or are needing to muscle-up.

Obviously this is not an exhaustive list of horse breeds however the breeds listed will give you an idea of 'type' and general back conformation usually specific to the breeds listed. 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 cases of muscle atrophy, use of a shim-able saddle pad with good quality inserts and cleverly placed tapered edge shims, can aid saddle fit until the horse has been re-conditioned and the top-line has been restored from correct riding/ground work and a proper fitting saddle. We can most certainly guide you here. Shimming is also recommended in instances where 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 absolutely essential when riding horses that are naturally built downhill. More information on shimming further down this page.



  1. Construction: Conventional four parts – fork, cantle and two bars. A rigid fork and cantle assembled together 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Fits: Our goal is to have our EFF line feature all eight fits represented by FTBS. We don’t have them all at this time, but the flexibility allows independent modification of the bar rafter angle front and rear. This allows us to more properly fit a wide spectrum of back types, actually we have 2 flex tree models to choose from: The D Fit which is the Quarter Horse fit, and the LT fit which is the Gaited Horse fit. I have found that this fit is particularly good for older horses or horses that have more curve to their back. See further descriptions below.

Please note: both tree types D and LT are suitable for short backed horses, as they are made specifically 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 literally allow the fit to be seen unobstructed by the saddle skirts, rigging and stirrup leathers. We realize that not everyone is an expert on fit, but serious fit problems are usually obvious with an unobscured view.

It is not possible to accurately describe the three-dimensional shape of the bottom of a saddle tree using three measurements or a breed specific name. Absent universally accepted and utilized standards, FTBS enables us to clearly identify and actually demonstrate a cross section of our extensive 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 degree of twist of the bar 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 angle of the bars 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 light weight replicas of the Equi-Fit Flexible trees available in the Kuda Flex Saddle range that you can try on your horse prior to 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 horses back shape.


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 that you need in the model, seat size and gullet width required. There are so many possible combinations that it is impossible for Kuda to have every single tree, ready to go. If the tree needs to be special ordered from Equi-Fit, then additional wait times will apply.

  • 6.0"

  • 6.5"

  • 7.0"

  • 7.5"

  • 8"