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A de-structed leather tree saddle shows its "inner life" - a strong leather tree made of several layers of thick layer:

The leather tree - some new-fangled stuff?
 
When talking about a leather tree I tend to call saddle with wooden trees or PE trees "traditional". Which - to be honest - is not correct. In fact the leather tree has a longer tradition! The Iberian working saddle and the military saddles have been made with leather tree for decades.
 
Otto von Bartholdys "Anleitung zum Sattelbau" (Instructions to build a saddle) published in 1938 describes how to make a leather tree for a saddle.
 
So why did the wooden tree take over? Simply said: because its cheaper and easier to make. And it helps the rider to sit more "independently" from the horse instead of forcing him or her to cooperate with your horse and its movement. Why did riders like that? Because it makes easier for riders - and decreased the necessity to ride correctly.
But do we want that? Or do we want to work together and allow free movement for the horse and our body? Do we really want to have a stiff block between the horse and the rider?
 
A leather tree saddle has so many advantages:
- It grows with your horse if the back muscles grow.
- It adapts again if your horse had a longer break and lost muscles.
- I defines "Close contact" new - forget the so called close contact saddles that sit you in one position.
- It allows your horse to move freely and spreads the weight evenly without hot-spots.
 
Leather trees are not new and not new-fangled! They have a very long tradition and have proven their advantages in hard work.
So why are not going back to the roots? With a leather tree saddle from Hidalgo.