Saddle & Saddle Accessories

General questions about the Barefoot saddle

No, this is not recommended. When it comes to the barefoot saddle, we are talking about a saddle system. This consists of the saddle, the appropriate barefoot saddle pad and the appropriate changeable pommel or fork. We therefore recommend using our saddle pad for your barefoot saddle. The barefoot saddle pads are anatomically cut, can be individually padded depending on the back line of your horse and the pressure distribution and pressure absorption of the saddle is supported. Where a tree saddle is adjusted to the line of the back via the upholsterable cushions, the adjustment and pressure distribution / pressure absorption in the case of a barefoot saddle takes place via the pad. The pad is largely responsible for ensuring that our saddles fit and lie correctly on the horse. They create the necessary freedom of spine and withers.

The barefoot saddle always places the rider slightly wider than a tree saddle (as wide as his horse is), so sometimes riders with narrower hips or very small riders have problems with the wider seat in the barefoot saddle.

Yes, he can. The Barefoot saddle system distributes the rider’s weight completely differently than a conventional tree saddle or other saddles. You sit in the barefoot between two molded parts that are placed in “pockets” in the saddle. These molded parts are only minimally loaded by your weight and can therefore move with the horse’s movement and allow the horse’s full range of motion. You can therefore saddle the Barefoot over the horse’s shoulder if the anatomy of your horse allows it, because the scapula (shoulder blade) can move underneath and the muscles remain well supplied with blood at all times. For the overall length of the saddle, this means: The saddle also leaves the back free under the rear, elastic molded part, i.e. even if there is still a “saddle” but is hardly burdened by the rider’s weight anymore. The rear part of the back remains free and even a short horse’s back can arch up more easily.

The barefoot saddle can be significantly longer than a conventional saddle – i.e. go beyond the 18 rib arch. Please always buy the saddle that fits your clothing size. The size of the barefoot saddle should above all suit the rider and should not be too small. The barefoot saddle is flexible and moves with the horse’s movement. If the rider is too big for the saddle, he sits with his thighs on the pommel and blocks this movement. This is uncomfortable for the horse and in the worst case even leads to pressure points. 

Yes, this is possible after the breaking-in phase or the adjustment process of the saddle.
After the barefoot saddle has settled and adapted to the horse’s back line (“breaking in time” of the barefoot saddle), you can mount it from the ground and the saddle will not slip.
However, we recommend that you always use a climbing aid if possible!
As soon as the rider stands in just one stirrup when mounting from the ground and pulls himself up on the horse, the horse not only has to carry the rider’s weight, but due to the rider’s weight shift, the horse’s own weight also shifts to one side. This puts an enormous strain on the spinous processes of the spine, which twist due to the increased one-sided weight and this can lead to tension and blockages.
Mounting should therefore always be done with a mounting aid – for the horse’s benefit.

Yes, this is also possible with a barefoot saddle. Our Nottingham model with the 3-layer VPS system is particularly suitable for regular jumps.

Yes, in principle you can use one saddle for several horses.
If the horses have roughly the same shoulder angle and physique, you can simply flip the saddle with the same adjustment.
If the shoulder angle is different, you can work with several differently padded pads. We would be happy to advise you individually in our saddle advice!

The horse’s spinous process ends move when it is ridden – so   with a rigid element like a treed saddle, there must be a very clear spinal freedom and a large distance to the withers. Such a rigid saddle impedes the movement of the spinous process ends and would not permit flexion of the back were it not for this wide channel between the pads.

However, our barefoot saddle is flexible, so we don’t need this wide channel and the large distance to the withers. The saddle constantly adapts to the horse’s back – even when bent – and does not disturb the ends of the spinous process. If we were to give our saddle a wider channel, it would sink down over time (because it doesn’t contain a rigid saddle tree) due to the rider’s weight. That’s why we work with a narrow spinal canal to allow the sides to move while encasing the ends of the spinous process and not interfering with their movement.

No. The barefoot may come lower on the withers. It is enough if the saddle just does not rest on the withers.

The barefoot saddle works differently than a conventional tree saddle: we don’t want any pressure, so we thought about adding a seat border in front of and behind the rider that remains largely free of the rider’s weight.
Disadvantage: As a result, the saddles appear larger, i.e. more horse is “covered”.
Advantage: The saddle lets the rider sit where he would sit without a saddle. The rider sits in the area of ​​the horse’s back that is resilient (please also read our free brochure: The Barefoot Saddle System) and does not strain further back – although there is still a saddle here, which only serves as support. In the barefoot saddle, the rider sits between two molded parts, with the rear one being elastic and the front only slightly yielding, as it keeps the withers free and gives the saddle its shape. This front molded part (exchangeable pommel) should be able to move on the horse’s shoulder so as not to disturb the action from the shoulder.
Therefore, the barefoot saddle may be saddled directly on the shoulder. Anatomically, over-the-shoulder saddling is only possible on horses with short, flat, and well-muscled withers, such as many compact recreational horses have.

A horse with prominent long withers, such as most Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods have, cannot be saddled on the shoulder. Here you saddle, as you know it from the saddle with tree, behind the shoulder.

Yes, our system was made so that the rider can adapt the saddle to his horse himself.
Adjusting the Barefoot saddle is not very difficult. With some background information, you will quickly find success.
We generally advise you to take your horse to our online consultation before buying a saddle.
First measure the width of your horse’s shoulders, then you will know whether the standard crotch that is supplied will fit or whether you need to order a different crotch size.
You always need a padded saddle pad for the saddle (‘Special’ or ‘Physio’ saddle pad). If no specific upholstery was recommended to you in our online consultation, select the standard upholstery. This means that you place the soft, gray PU foam inserts supplied with each saddle pad completely in the pockets of the saddle pad. This padding is sufficient if the horse does not require building leveling.
When you have completed these points, saddle your horse as described in the advice. The saddle should then lie horizontally on the horse.
Now start breaking in the saddle. In the beginning you often have to tighten your belt. The saddle now settles and adapts to the horse and rider. Depending on the model and the weight of the rider, it takes a different amount of time for the saddle to adapt. (Arizona Nut, Missoula Nut, Virginia Rose, Nottingham, and Wellington generally take longer.) The saddle now fits the horse like a second skin.
Pay attention to how you sit. The barefoot saddle allows the horse to move freely and the rider can feel a lot more than with a tree saddle. At the same time, the horse feels the rider with his weight aids much more clearly. The rider can/must be finer with his aids. You should be able to sit relaxed and upright in your center of gravity at all times. If you have the feeling of tipping forwards or backwards, this can be an indication that the saddle is not yet perfectly adjusted.

You can always ask us for advice on the position and adjustment of the saddle. Please always send pictures that clarify the question.

It takes some time for the saddle to adapt to the horse and rider.

However, the actual adjustment to the horse is the great strength of our saddles. After the break-in period, the saddles fit the horses like a second skin. With the saddles adjusted this way, you won’t slip  and you can mount from the ground, which is not recommended. You need a bit of patience for this. Depending on the weight of the rider and the shape of the horse’s back, breaking in will take a different amount of time. It also depends somewhat on which saddle model you choose.

It is also important that you tighten your seatbelts often. The saddle loses “air” through riding, which loosens the girth.

In the first few days, the feeling in the new saddle is initially spongy and the saddle can slip slightly. We recommend taking it easy on the saddle for the first time, until the saddle has settled and you feel comfortable in it. Pure step rounds are sufficient for breaking in. The Barefoot saddle sits you differently than a “normal” saddle. You will probably first have to find your seat again, because the proximity to the horse means that you sit very differently from conventional saddles. You sit wider and freer. This results in an independent, well-balanced seat over the long term, but is unfamiliar at first.

Not every saddle model fits every horse. We would be happy to advise you in our  online consultation  which saddle model is suitable for you and your horse.

The sweat pattern under a barefoot saddle cannot be compared to conventional tree saddles. In the rear area, the saddle is almost completely flat and moves very strongly with the movement of the horse. In the area directly after the shoulder, the barefoot is most stable due to the saddle girth, so you can see dry areas here in comparison. The shoulder blade forms the abutment for the saddle and gives it the necessary guidance at the front. Due to the strapping, the saddle is placed most still in the middle in relation to the movement of the horse. In comparison, the barefoot saddle moves significantly with the horse’s movement in the front and rear areas. Therefore, when a horse begins to sweat, this calmed middle zone is the last to become wet. The fit of the saddle cannot be read from the sweat pattern.

No, all current Barefoot models have no weight limit. 
Our first barefoot models were still produced without the so-called VPS system – the abbreviation VPS® stands for ‘vertebrae protecting system’ (translated: spine protection system). Since the beginning of 2008, all Barefoot saddles have been made with the VPS system. The old barefoot models of the first generation had a rider weight limit of up to 80kg without the VPS system. Frequent light digging or standing in the saddle could lead to selective pressure. However, we have accepted this criticism and further developed the saddle.
The built-in VPS® system enables even pressure distribution over the entire length of the saddle. Even when standing in the stirrup (light trot), the weight is distributed over the entire saddle surface – there is no rider weight limit. 
However, the Barefoot saddle has a size limit. It is imperative that the rider fits into his saddle in order for the system to work and for the horse’s shoulder to actually remain free of restrictions, as this is one of the advantages of the barefoot saddle system.
Seat size 1 is for female riders with size 36-40 (size men 44-48), seat size 2 for female riders with size 42-46 (size men 50-54). As a special order there are some models in seat size 3 (conf. size 48-52)
It is important to note here that riding in a saddle that is too big is not a problem, but riding in a saddle that is too small for the rider is a problem. The saddle would be hampered in its movement by a too tall rider. This is uncomfortable for horse and rider and, in the worst case, leads to pressure points in the horse.

Yes, it works. Our saddles are available in different seat sizes. Please always choose the size that fits the horse’s tallest rider, even if the saddle may appear too long.
The rider must fit into his saddle for the system to work and the horse’s shoulder to remain free of restrictions.
Seat size 1 is for female riders with size 36-40 (size men 44-48), seat size 2 for female riders with size 42-46 (size men 50-54). It is important to note here that riding a saddle that is too big is not a problem, but riding a saddle that is too small is a problem. The saddle would be hampered in its movement by a too tall rider. This is uncomfortable for horse and rider and, in the worst case, leads to pressure points on the horse.
A size that is too large can be shrunk slightly with a sheepskin or sheep wool seat pad, but will not provide the ideal support like a saddle that fits your size perfectly.

If riders of different heights regularly share a saddle, we have a special solution for this. As a custom-made product, we can equip all saddle models with an adjustable cantle. So every Barefoot saddle becomes a mother/child saddle like our JustAdjust. Feel free to email us if you have any questions.

Frequently asked questions about saddle accessories

Short girths are suitable for barefoot saddles . The best way to determine the correct girth length is as follows: two people stand on the left and right at the height of the girth position of the horse, one person holds the measuring tape* on the right side of the horse in the girth position, approx. 10 cm above the elbow. Pull the measuring tape under your stomach and measure at the same height on the left, i.e. approx. 10 cm above the elbow. How to determine the minimum size for the belt.
It is better to buy a slightly longer strap than one that is too short. The horse should not be restricted in movement by the buckles.
Ideally, the girth extends to a hand’s breadth under the saddle flap, so the girth straps do not run freely over the stomach or only briefly and do not pinch.

*No tape measure at hand? Instead of using a measuring tape, you can also measure the length with a straw band, lead rope or similar and then determine the measurement with a folding rule.

The soft insert is very soft and goes in the saddle’s cantle pocket instead of the cantle or fork.
The soft insert is always used when:

The horse is poorly muscled and therefore very sensitive at the withers
The saddle is used for several horses with different shoulder widths.
The XXL insert is too small, e.g. for draft horses, very wide Haflingers, etc.
The horse doesn’t like a fixed effort, for example if you have to wear a girth and/or saddle.
Attention: The soft insert is not suitable for extremely high withers. Ask us if your horse has pronounced withers. We are happy to help you to adjust your saddle.

The soft insert should ALWAYS be additionally padded at the front. In order to be able to achieve optimal pressure distribution, the barefoot saddle must lie horizontally on the horse’s back. Due to the soft insert, the saddle will come a little too low in the front area, since the saddle cannot hold the arch over the withers without a firm insert. Therefore, additional padding must be inserted in the front area of ​​the saddle pad.

As you can see, the soft insert does not suit every horse. However, we would be happy to advise you in our online consultation as to whether the soft insert is suitable for your horse.

You can order all saddles without a horn as a custom-made product from us with a horn or therapy handle for an additional charge. The delivery time is approx. 16 weeks. However, the right of cancellation and return does not apply to custom-made products.

All western models can easily be retrofitted with our therapy handle .

Our saddles are equipped with a Velcro or variable stirrup suspension, so you can adjust the stirrup suspension to suit your leg position, so that the position of the stirrups or stirrup leathers is comfortable for you.

Our variable stirrup suspension is also a safety stirrup suspension that can detach from the saddle in the event of a fall from the horse. When buying a new saddle, we recommend completely unfastening the stirrup a few times before riding so that the Velcro can come loose if necessary.

Ideally, you combine your barefoot saddle with stirrup leathers from our range. Our stirrup leathers are specially designed so that the buckles lie comfortably below the ankle. This makes it easy to adjust the stirrup leathers and avoids pressure on the rider’s thighs.

The barefoot saddle is a saddle system, ie in addition to the appropriate front insert, the saddle ideally always has a padding that can be padded. We recommend always using your Barefoot saddle with one of the two saddle pads.

The Physio saddle pad system (in short: Physiopad) has proven its worth, especially with difficult saddle positions, because its 2-component structure (pad with physiocushion) has excellent pressure absorption paired with the greatest possible freedom for the spine. It has an adhesive mesh underside (Sympanova) to prevent the saddle from slipping on the horse’s back.
Suitable for:
o Difficult saddle positions
o Older horses
o Round horses
o Trail rides

The special saddle pad (in short: special pad) has an underside made of temperature-regulating sheep’s wool and good pressure absorption.
Suitable for:
o Well-muscled topline
o Normal withers
o Straight back

No, the western stirrups fit our wide stirrup leathers or our narrow and wide fenders – but not the narrow stirrup leathers. Only stirrups with a narrow suspension should be used there.

How to properly care for your barefoot saddle

For our saddles and saddle accessories made of leather, we mostly use open-pored nubuck or soft leather, which is soft and flexible so that the saddles can adapt to the horse’s back.

To care for this open-pored leather, you should not use conventional saddle soap or greasy products, as these would clog the pores. We recommend Barefoot’s special leather care products for cleaning and care.

The leather of our saddles is vegetable tanned or dyed, ie the treatment of the leather is environmentally friendly and not harmful to health, as would be the case with chrome-dyed leather. Therefore, our leather can show a faster color abrasion during use. With our special barefoot leather care and leather color you can keep your saddle beautiful for a long time and the saddle will look like new again after this treatment.

More information about our leather care can be found here: Barefoot leather care

DryTex is an artificial leather and can easily be cleaned with a damp cloth after use. This material does not require any further care.

Wherever the plastic surfaces of the DryTex saddle rub against each other under pressure, squeaking noises can sometimes occur.
Talcum powder (baby powder) helps against the squeaking, i.e. for “lubrication”. Simply put between the squeaky parts. Repeat from time to time.

We use for the seats of the Lazy Mountains , Happy Valleys and SoftWalksa real sheepskin. As a natural product, sheepskin has many good properties. It ensures e.g. B. for a healthy and even temperature, absorbs moisture immediately and releases it into the air 7x faster than synthetic fibers. Sheepskins naturally have a disinfecting, odor-neutralizing and dirt-repellent effect. This self-cleaning power is intensified in the fresh air, which is why we recommend shaking out the fur regularly to remove dust and dirt, loosen it up at the same time and then air it. Stubborn dirt can simply be combed out with a soft brush or rubbed out with a damp cloth.
The fur remains durable and looks good for many years.

If it rains heavily, we recommend using a water-repellent cover over the seat. Should the fur become completely sodden, remove the fur from the saddle and slowly spread it out to dry. Please do not dry the saddle and the fur in the sun or on the heater. This makes the material brittle.

Extra tip: You can have the fur professionally prepared in a tannery from time to time, so it stays really nice for longer.