Easy Fit History

Cutting Saddles

We produced saddles for a nearby cutting horse trainer and provided them as prizes for their events. We had a machine for reproducing trees, so it was relatively simple to experiment with various tree designs. Most every saddle we made was a bit different as he and his team would give us feedback on the latest changes.

The trainer was looking to improve the cutting saddle design at the time. He wanted them lighter, with thinner bars, a lower seat and a larger surface area in the front. Lighter would reduce the load on the horse and make them quicker at changing direction, closer would reduce rider movement, make them more accessible for the horse to balance, and more surface area and the front of the bars would spread the concussive forces from the constant stopping and direction change.

We were using rawhide covering at the time and made the switch to fibreglass. Filling in the area between the bars with fibreglass rather than nailing on a tin strainer plate, layering leather, and covering with rawhide improved the tree’s strength, even though we cut away a lot of wood. In addition to thinning the bars, we completely cut out the bars under the seat to lower the rider even further. Only a few layers of fibreglass remained under the rider’s seat. We enlarged the front bar pads to improve weight distribution, keeping them thin to allow the rider’s leg to move off the bar—a significant breakthrough in understanding what could be done with tree design with feedback from a professional trainer.

Orthoflex

The Orthoflex saddle design was interesting; we bought and rode one. The flexible tree design meant It fit many more horses without changing trees. The design put you a long way from the horse, and the 4 pins that held the flexible panel created pressure points and hurt the horse’s back with a lot of riding—a lot of various spin-offs of that design out there.

Flex Tree

We purchased one of the first polymer-based flex trees, built a saddle, and rode it. It was made of a very flexible material and fit a lot of horses without tree changes. It had trouble staying in place and didn’t distribute the rider’s weight well.

Spring Tree

We felt that if a horse is to perform at a high level, the saddle needs to fit correctly and flex with its changing shape while moving and turning. Like the running shoe revolutionized a runner’s performance, a saddle should provide support and comfort for the rider, freedom of movement, and comfort for the horse. The flexible trees we tried were disappointing. So we built a tree utilizing a spring system. It was a big failure.

Travelled to Australia

We rode daily in Australia, trying a lot of saddles and horses. I picked up a very light and comfortable saddle from a dealer there. Turned out to be from India and had a hollow fibreglass tree. Later learned these were called bottle trees and only lasted a few months before collapsing.

We picked up an excellent half-breed Aussie saddle from a reputable dealer with a wood fibreglass tree. The Australian horses are a lot thinner than our horses here. Most of their saddle fit our narrow thoroughbreds but not much else.

We picked up an Aussie tree from a tree maker there with cable rigging. I brought it back and built a saddle, again too narrow for many of our horses. But the cable rigging idea worked well.

Found a tree measuring system from Denis Lane, an Aussie saddle maker. We have used it for several years with great success. What a revolution measure the horse and make a tree fit. What could be simpler?

Cable rigging

We proved this rigging system by building and riding several saddles utilizing it. The idea is a continuous loop of cable embedded in the forks and cantle. The exposed loop of cable allows latigos to slide to a position that pulls the saddle down evenly from front to back. Utilizing the strength of the cable enables us to build the tree lighter, eliminating the steel and leather required in a traditional rigging system.

Single Strap Stirrup System

Some research on google patents shows that Hambly Saddles patented the cable rigging system in the early 1900s. A few years later, they also patented a single-strap stirrup system. The idea was to eliminate the slots in the tree and remove a significant point of failure of wood trees. We incorporated this into our saddle design, utilizing hook and loop fabric, strengthening the tree while allowing the rider to adjust the stirrup position to their preference.

Travelled to Equitana in Germany

Found a company there that can 3D scan a horse’s back. We borrowed one and measured a horse. You upload the data to them, and they send you plastic templates cut with a CNC machine for horse and saddle. The scan worked best out of direct sunlight and measured the horse hair rather than the flesh below. It was expensive to purchase, produce the templates and then ship them from Germany.

Another company makes a plastic spider-like device to measure the horse’s back. They use the measurements to cut a wood tree on a CNC machine. Very slick and very expensive and very inspiring.
We tried all these and many more but always returned to the Denis Lane system, which is simple and cheap.

Again the problem was that Australian horses are generally narrower than our North American varieties. I called Denis and asked if he could expand his system to better service our larger horses. He wasn’t interested. So I set off to solve the problem myself and now have our measuring system that measures a broader variety of horses and saddles. We also made a tree rack to set up tree components to fit the measured horse accurately.

We read an article from Deb Bennet, “Who is Best to Ride.” She talked about the differences between men’s and women’s bodies, especially their pelvis. For the most part, Saddle makers don’t consider this when designing a saddle. Men generally make saddles to fit themselves. They sit in it, and it fits just right; what could be wrong? I have a wife and two daughters, perfect for experimenting so off we went.

Red Deer Horse Conference

Schleese was speaking, so off I went with my new tree to see if he was interested. He liked it and was keen on expanding into the western saddle market. He invited me to his shop in Ontario.
I flew down and came up with a design with all our features that they liked. Jochen asked that we build three saddles for them and get ready to produce in volume. We attended the Equine trade show in Spring Field Masetucets. The saddle was a hit.

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Our Mission Is To Make Saddle Technology Accessible To Everyone.

Western saddles can be overbuilt with multiple layers of heavy leather. Years ago, that’s all the saddle makers had to work with. It was expected, and tradition keeps the practice alive. Interestingly, I don’t see any western riders driving the old solid steel pickups from the pre-50S. They have all switched to newer, lighter, more comfortable, and more powerful models. I see a similar trend with the Olympics; modern, lightweight, stronger materials allow athletes to break records yearly. Easy Fit Saddles selectively replaces heavy and bulky components with lighter, stronger, modern materials available to us now.

The Easy Fit Saddles team comprises riding enthusiasts who compete and ride every day. We only sell what we ride, so you can be confident that when you shop at Easy Fit Saddles, you get top-quality riding products that everyday riders have tested.

Riding is all about a horse and rider working together. Our primary objective at Easy Fit Saddles is to help you and your horse perform to your full potential so you can both have a great ride.

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We’ve earned our reputation for delivering amazing saddles, built just right, and lasting for generations.

Easy Fit customers enjoy the design and building process that favours transparency, collaboration, and open lines of communication.

We’re known for the quality of our SaddlesAnd for our great fit for both horse and rider.

At Easy Fit Saddles, we know a lot about saddles. That’s why we take time to collaborate with our customers during the design process, and we take extra care to add all of the features and details our customers have envisioned.

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