Reference: Saddles - Side Saddle Trees
Like side saddles, over the years there have been many different iterations of side saddle trees. Some were attempts to improve on previous styles and others were total departures from accepted norms. The vast majority of the old name saddles are built on correct trees. If you are fortunate enough to get one that fits you and your horse, hang onto it for dear life.
Modern side saddles, like those of the past, are usually built on wooden trees and reinforced with metal. From there, the differences begin. Some are set up to allow correct positioning of the billet or cinch rings, stirrup hangers, and balance strap, while others are so far off that any saddle built on them would be difficult, if not impossible, to ride correctly. A very few saddles were made with synthetic trees, but a viable, mass-producable tree has not yet been invented.
Sadly, there are very few manufacturers of correct side saddle trees and there are many new saddles built on modified astride saddle trees. While these look great, many are unrideable. In this examination of side saddle construction and the tree upon which one is built, we hope to help educate you about what you should look for before you make a major investment.
These Whippy tree photos were sent to us during a teardown of the saddle for a rebuild. You can clearly see metal reinforcment and the placement of the horns in relation to the points. The long and short points are also visible in this series of photos.
An interesting thing to note is the horns are covered with what appears to be a plaid wool fabric under the leather sheathing. Thank you to our members who continually work with us to provide information about side saddles!
If you have a tree that you'd like to share, please contact us with photos and descriptions at firstname.lastname@example.org.