Does the Barefoot saddle also fit horses with shorter backs ?
The Barefoot saddle is particularly suitable for horses/ponies with a short back, as it distributes the rider's weight completely differently to conventional saddles: In the Barefoot saddle, the rider sits between two moulded parts (the exchangeable pommel at the front, and the rear restriction). Because these pre-formed parts are made of flexible plastic and do not carry any of the rider’s weight, they can move with the horse without restricting its movement.
As a result, the Barefoot may be saddled over the horse's shoulder, because the scapula (shoulder blade) is free to move underneath the saddle and the musculature will not be constricted. This type of saddle allows the rider to sit directly above the horse's centre of gravity, in an optimal position.
Due to this construction, Barefoot saddles often look bigger than conventional treed saddles, especially on smaller horses. However, the Barefoot saddle may extend beyond the horse's 18th ribbed arch as it does not restrict the horse’s back in any way, or distribute the rider’s weight onto the rear part of the back.
To experience this at first hand, you can sit in a Barefoot saddle and push your hand behind the rear end of the saddle and lift it. You will see that the Barefoot is so flexible that it can be lifted - this proves that although "the saddle is there", there is no pressure and therefore no problem can be caused by the saddle. If you try the same thing in a saddle with a tree, you will quickly feel the difference. Many people however are unaware of this difference and therefore assume that the weight distribution is exactly the same as in a treed saddle.
In cases where we have a very short horse ridden by a sturdier person, the Barefoot saddle may appear to be too big and look rather out of proportion. It is nevertheless the right choice, because the rider should fit between the shaped parts and not choose a smaller size which will then be too tight.