Fit is Everything - Infinitely Adjustable for Optimal Comfort & Performance!


In the past saddles were built with a tree to distribute the rider’s weight over the horses back, while protecting and minimizing the pressure of the saddle tree at the shoulder and loin area of the horse.

Ancient Chinese saddle tree / Photo courtesy of Christoph Rieser.


The first saddle trees were used for work and functionality…which was key. The main base of the tree maintained the solid structure of the saddle and complimented the saddle support area. Saddles have evolved from being used for purpose/survival to working/functionality to sport/fashion.

Over the years, sport and fashion changed the look and functionality of the saddle tree to the point where there is now barely any support left over the saddle support area of the horse.





Ideal percentage breakdown of the Saddle Support Area with respect to carrying a rider’s weight. 40% of the rider’s weight is ideally carried in the center of the saddle support area as noted and the remaining 60% of the rider’s weight is broken down into two 30% segments in the front and back areas of the saddle support area. This illustration explains the tree design from the past – the most weight bearing surface was in the center of the tree.

In order for the horse to move freely through the shoulder with no restrictions, the horse needs to get the midsection of his back elevated. This then allows the pelvis of the horse to tuck under, which will, in turn, allow the horse’s hind leg to step through underneath. This makes it possible for the horse to carry the weight of the rider in a safe and sound manner.

Unfortunately, most English saddle trees have become too narrow in the center (where 40% of the weight and the supporting surface should be). This is a big problem as the saddle lacks the dynamic fitting purpose of the “Tree-Lift” in the center of the saddle. Without the proper “Tree-Lift” the saddle tree is creating undue pressure at the front and back of the saddle.

Modern saddle construction results in more and more back issues, because of the fact that:

  • Due to the breeding and the choice of horses by the new horse owner. The trend shows that the horse’s saddle support area is getting smaller for the required saddle size that is needed for today’s rider
  • People are generally larger than 100 years ago
  • Panels are typically too long, much too soft and lack the proper weight distribution of the bars of the saddle tree
  • Today we have more horse owners than “horsemen” which means much of the inherent knowledge about horse husbandry may have been lost

Localized high-pressure areas from conventional English saddles are not only painful but risk ischemic damage if the mean capillary pressure of approx. 4.67 kPa (kilopascal per square cm. of pressure) is exceeded for sufficient time. The industry has accepted pressure > 11 kPa to be a ‘reasonable threshold’ above which the risk of ischemic injury under saddle occurs, but only 4.67 kpa is recognized as already restrictive!  So that means that most saddles are already causing more pressure than is necessary to cut off oxygen from the tissues!

The saddle tree is recognized as being the foundation of the saddle to distribute the rider’s weight over a large area (the saddle support area) when the saddle is correctly fitted. We generally recognize this to be 4” on either side of the vertebra (about 2” down from the spinal processes on either side) in an area from the base of the withers to the 18th thoracic vertebrae. We calculate this as being on average 4 x 16 x2 = 128 sq. in. The rider’s body weight and the skill level also affect the force on the horse’s back, together with the weight of the saddle – which can be anywhere from 15-25 lbs. in an English saddle including stirrups.  The force beneath the saddle also varies depending on girth tightness, and the inertial effects of the rider’s weight, which increases with speed within each gait. Maximal total force is approximately double the rider’s weight at the trot.

Various tools to indicate where the modern saddle puts pressure.

Our new PSI-Panel (patent pending) improves the necessary ‘Tree-Lift’ which allows the freedom of the shoulder and reduces the pressure over the rear and the front of the saddle. The PSI-Panel has expanded the ‘missing’ center of the tree (as per the illustration) to allow this action with a solid yet flexible insert. This is what reduces the overall KPa for the entire saddle – meaning more comfort and protection of the horse’s back as well as less chance of ongoing long-term damage!!

This is why we have developed our revolutionary new PSI-Panel which brings back the knowledge of the past and aligns the functionality of years gone by with the sport and fashionable look of the modern saddle. Try it for yourself and see the difference in how your horse feels and moves – remember, the eyes, ears, and tail don’t lie!

The Revolutionary "PSI-Panel"

The Revolutionary “PSI-Panel” (patent pending)

The Revolutionary 
“PSI-Panel” (patent pending)
Aligning Functionality with Sport and Fashion!!

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I am a new Schleese customer and wanted to tell you how much I love my new saddle!  I have struggled for almost 5 years trying to find the right saddle for my horse.  New ones would work for a short time, but were never the right fit for myself and my horse together.  After watching all your videos, reading your book and the information on your website, I decided that I wanted to do the right thing for my horse and purchase one of your saddles. Working with Denise Lenz was so educational and fun!  She was just super and explained everything she was doing.  I had several people there to watch me ride in 3 different saddles, but my horse Rex chose the Obrigado.  His movement was so different than anything I have ever felt before!  He has a very short back so it really suited him, and everyone watching agreed it was the one.  He was so happy and forward moving in that saddle, and I really just sat there and let him go.  Sitting the trot and canter was effortless for me for the first time!  Now I see why a “female” saddle makes such a difference.  I could never sit his canter easily before or keep my toes forward in my previous saddles.  The seat is so comfortable and I feel really supported as I ride.  It’s like I am one with him, and not just sitting on his back.  Every ride is a good ride and I’m excited to keep progressing with his training now that he can really move his body and not be uncomfortable or restricted. I am also very grateful to Denise for selling me that demo saddle so I didn't have to wait for one to be made.  She said she could leave us knowing it fit perfectly, and that gave her peace of mind.  I slept really well that night knowing I had purchased not only a lovely piece of equipment, but also feeling relieved that my horse will never suffer pain from an ill-fitting saddle ever again.  I am a Schleese customer for life now and look forward to working with Denise for years to come. “Obrigado” [Thank you] and kind regards.

— Christine Stevens - Winnipeg, Manitoba

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