I came home with a Sensation English Dressage saddle. Black, with burgundy stitching, and burgundy melton underneath. I quite liked the way it looked. But how was it going to ride?
Now, I hadn't been on Cisco yet, and he was the reason I was buying this saddle. But the more I read about it, the more I wondered if Phantom would like it. She was going to have to be my guinea pig so that I could ride in it and make the decision within a week, but I was curious to see how she responded to it. We had gone through a period of issues when I would mount that I concluded were saddle fit related, so I know she has no qualms about telling me if she doesn't like it.
I had someone hold her the first time I got on (safety first!) and rode off. I was expecting it to feel like a bareback pad. But it didn't. I was pleasantly surprised that it was quite comfortable and I could sit nicely in it. The twist is wide, which is a common complaint about treeless saddles. But because it is so close-contact otherwise, it didn't feel that wide. My other dressage saddle that I usually ride Phantom in fits her, but I have very short legs, and a tight psoas and hip on the right. So I can't ride with super long stirrups. Plus the fact that I seem to keep riding chunky horses instead of narrow little ponies, which is what I should be on based on my conformation. So with my treed saddle, I have a hard time keeping my leg back far enough that my knee sits behind the padding of the tree points and knee roll, but sits on top. With the treeless, my leg sits behind this, so it allows me to feel closer.
I have been riding Phantom in it ever since. The last couple of time I have gotten on she has stood still at the mounting block, which has been an ongoing struggle. So that tells me that she is happy in it. I did order a twist bolster, which made a difference in how wide the twist felt. I would consider it a minimal saddle - there's not much there to hold you in, but it feels secure. Because it is soft, there is nothing to brace against - and at times I really want to brace! Especially at canter. But then I have to soften and just try to sit there and realign my position.
There have been no complaints from Cisco so far, not that we have gone very fast or very long. I think I will need a forward girth-groove style of girth for him. But when I bought this saddle, I kind of had a plan of ordering a new one with shorter flaps if I liked it. Because they take 3-4 months for delivery, I grabbed this one in the meantime. And I really like it. So I will likely order one this fall. And even if I eventually come up with the significant funds required to buy a custom saddle, I think I will keep the treeless. Because I really like it.