A Billy Cooke Saddletree that broke.

a tree that broke, sent for repair to re-build the saddle.
a tree that broke, sent for repair to re-build the saddle.
Close up of breakage in only one spot.
Close up of breakage in only one spot.
What the underside of a tree with ARIZONA Bars looks like! Notice the tiny groove for the stirrup strap only at the front edge of what should be a full depth slot for said strap.  The results are a bump under the tree bars above the skirts. You don't notice but THE HORSE DOES. Every stride of a hindquarter lifts his back right where the bump is. It takes about 10 riding days to create a "PISSY HORSE".     Then you can't figure out why? Almost all saddletrees are made this way. The only fix is to put full separate layers of leather on the bars to leave a slot that the lazy treemaker didn't put in the tree.  Then it's harder to cover the bars with the skirts. Saddlemakers don't do it. Look up under your saddle, turn it over and run your hand with pressure front to rear. Doing the BUMP is a sad story of Saddlemaking around the World. Why is this bar so popular? It has little twist front to rear, it is stronger for Rawhide covering than the full Groove Slot needed. It can be turned out from a couple of 2X4s glued together making it cheap to make. Notice the glue line in the bars front to rear?
What the underside of a tree with ARIZONA Bars looks like! Notice the tiny groove for the stirrup strap only at the front edge of what should be a full depth slot for said strap. The results are a bump under the tree bars above the skirts. You don’t notice but THE HORSE DOES. Every stride of a hindquarter lifts his back right where the bump is. It takes about 10 riding days to create a “PISSY HORSE”.
Then you can’t figure out why? Almost all saddletrees are made this way. The only fix is to put full separate layers of leather on the bars to leave a slot that the lazy treemaker didn’t put in the tree. Then it’s harder to cover the bars with the skirts. Saddlemakers don’t do it. Look up under your saddle, turn it over and run your hand with pressure front to rear. Doing the BUMP is a sad story of Saddlemaking around the World. Why is this bar so popular? It has little twist front to rear, it is stronger for Rawhide covering than the full Groove Slot needed. It can be turned out from a couple of 2X4s glued together making it cheap to make. Notice the glue line in the bars front to rear?
On the average backed horse, NO Pressure on the tree and it couldn't look worse. The broken tree wasn't the problem the owner was having. It was a flat angle 45 degree bar tree that this and most other saddles have today. Is it worth putting back together? No, not really. The Protector Saddle foundation system can fix this tree. Believe it or not / it is not as bad as many  on this horse.
On the average backed horse, NO Pressure on the tree and it couldn’t look worse. The broken tree wasn’t the problem the owner was having. It was a flat angle 45 degree bar tree that this and most other saddles have today. Is it worth putting back together? No, not really. The Protector Saddle foundation system can fix this tree. Believe it or not / it is not as bad as many on this horse.
On my Grey, the tree bars don't look so good.. Imagine where the stirrup straps go under the bars. The wide & flat angle of the bars would bite into the shoulders severely when the back lifts every stride at a trot or canter. The shoulder would be severely damaged and withers pinched as you'll see in the next photo. BUT> the biting into the loins at the rear is not a problem as the back lifts. The pressure at the rear bar tips is never a problem when riding. Only the outside edge of a bar on the loin is a problem. That is what the rear shields of the ProtecTOR pad take care of .  Without it you are left with shoving the saddle up over the shoulders to balance you and keep them from eating the shoulders & withers up. That is the lesser of 2 evils. It doesn't let your horse bend & turn & the shoulders grind away under the solid tree bars.  You can't just carry weight off the center by making a rocking chair tree. That unfortunately is what many are now trying to do.  "Back to the the Pissy horse"; is the title of that scenario.  It is riding on a Western Saddle in todays world.  Welcome to the horse world.  Len
On my Grey, the tree bars don’t look so good.. Imagine where the stirrup straps go under the bars. The wide & flat angle of the bars would bite into the shoulders severely when the back lifts every stride at a trot or canter. The shoulder would be severely damaged and withers pinched as you’ll see in the next photo. BUT> the biting into the loins at the rear is not a problem as the back lifts. The pressure at the rear bar tips is never a problem when riding. Only the outside edge of a bar on the loin is a problem. That is what the rear shields of the ProtecTOR pad take care of . Without it you are left with shoving the saddle up over the shoulders to balance you and keep them from eating the shoulders & withers up. That is the lesser of 2 evils. It doesn’t let your horse bend & turn & the shoulders grind away under the solid tree bars. You can’t just carry weight off the center by making a rocking chair tree. That unfortunately is what many are now trying to do. “Back to the the Pissy horse”; is the title of that scenario. It is riding on a Western Saddle in todays world. Welcome to the horse world. Len
Now you see: THE REST OF THE STORY ! A saddletree and you can pinch thru any pad and any saddling system Panel. It is why the SADDLETREE ANGLE & TWIST are so important. TO WIDEN THIS TREE WITH THE FORK, JUST MAKES THE PINCH YOU SEE EVEN MORE SEVERE AS IT MOVES DOWN A BIT. It also makes the tree even more of a Rocking Chair as the back lifts the front goes up and down more. SO WIDENING A TREE AT THE FORK CREATES: MORE PRESSURE IN FRONT, MORE PAIN IN THE MID-BACK, MORE LOIN FRICTION IN THE LUMBAR AREA. Only by twisting the bars out at the top in front, starting at the seat, can the gullet be opened and the foot of the bars be brought together to stop the pinch, straighten the tree, and lessen the pressures in front. Simple to say, but a tool & die makers nightmare. It is re-tooling a saddletree company from the bottom up with skilled hand and eye pattern work. I spent many hours yesterday working on just one size of one model of tree to perfect only a small part of that saddletree. It's not a job that pays immediately, if ever; it is a challenge driven by a "work of love" & trying to make the best.  Regards,  Len
Now you see: THE REST OF THE STORY ! A saddletree and you can pinch thru any pad and any saddling system Panel. It is why the SADDLETREE ANGLE & TWIST are so important. TO WIDEN THIS TREE WITH THE FORK, JUST MAKES THE PINCH YOU SEE EVEN MORE SEVERE AS IT MOVES DOWN A BIT. It also makes the tree even more of a Rocking Chair as the back lifts the front goes up and down more. SO WIDENING A TREE AT THE FORK CREATES: MORE PRESSURE IN FRONT, MORE PAIN IN THE MID-BACK, MORE LOIN FRICTION IN THE LUMBAR AREA. Only by twisting the bars out at the top in front, starting at the seat, can the gullet be opened and the foot of the bars be brought together to stop the pinch, straighten the tree, and lessen the pressures in front. Simple to say, but a tool & die makers nightmare. It is re-tooling a saddletree company from the bottom up with skilled hand and eye pattern work. I spent many hours yesterday working on just one size of one model of tree to perfect only a small part of that saddletree. It’s not a job that pays immediately, if ever; it is a challenge driven by a “work of love” & trying to make the best. Regards, Len

A few emails from Riders & Customers with saddle problems.

For 12 years now I’ve been helping anyone that calls me or emails with saddlefit problems or basic saddle issues with Ortho-Flex and other brands. I’m sharing a few recent ones with you now. In the near future I will have all emails come through this Blog. That will allow you to tune in on others problems and solutions offered by myself. There will also be access to Videos I’ve done in the past and new shots as well. Regards, Len

3,000 miles on horseback. 1982

What started a revolution in the horse world the pack trip of Len Brown & Lisa Dawes. Over coming saddle problems, shoeing, deserts in July & Blizzards in Nov. From winter to winter we rode & lived outdoors with 5 horses. I rode my first horse “Charlie”. He was gaited, trained for roping, cutting, & outran young Quarter horses. He came rather reasonable since he was a Runaway. He’d been sold a half dozen times and returned by pale cowboys wanting an easier mount. We got along just great until Chama New Mexico. He’d almost killed us both in the Loginitis wilderness area. Now he was doing it again on a steep shale bank beside a hwy. Straight up he went breaking away from the Pack horses. When we got to the top, he reared, spun around and slid down on his haunches. I stayed aboard barely. I didn’t want to die on this trip at the age of 33. I talked to a local and ask of any local horse traders. He gave me the name & phone of Mr Johnson, a Hispanic ranchers & horseman. I got in touch via a payphone. No Cells back then, no radio reception, we were basically on our own.
Mr. Johnson met us at a campground, looked at my horse, asked to ride him. In the saddle he was impressed at Charlie’s neck reining responses and stated, he’s been roping horse. I asked if he had a more dependable horse I could trade for? He said my horse was fine but he was sore under saddle. I told him I didn’t think so. I’d ordered the tree to fit him & designed the saddle to carry my weight. He said ” That’s okay, he is still sore.” I asked him what could I do about it & he told me; ” Move your saddle back, it’s too far forward”. I said I could do that if it would help. We thanked him as he drove off in his old Ford 4×4. I got out my tool box, went to work repositioning my center-fire rigging. I angled it forward & it kept the saddle back. That helped my horse for quite awhile before I made one more modification in the WY desert. Here’s a picture of us when we were dropped off just north of La Madera, AtripFirstDay3000miWEBNM. in the Carson National forest.

Only in the Horse World,

In this closed market you find outrageous claims with nothing to back them up. Fraud, deceit, & anything to keep selling saddles and other Gizmos are the common way of doing business. Little is really done with the horse in mind. I will start with a little Bio of myself. I walked away from modern society in 1982, with 5 horses and a young lady. We rode and lived outdoors for 7.5 months thru 5 states and a number of mountain ranges and deserts. I made my saddle for this trip, clothes, footwear, pistol, knives, & bow & arrows. I reworked the packsaddles out of necessity to save the 3 pack horses from pain & permanent damage. I learn to shoe horses for this trip  & carried my tools for such. After 3,000 miles we returned with the horses in better shape than when they started. Not one shoe lost, no lameness, and only one white spot on 1 horse.  The horse was ridden by my lady friend of 105 lbs. It was from slipped hair, an open wound so we stopped and fixed it before continuing.

After all this I decided to start making saddles like the one I made for this trip. I spent more in Advertising than I did in gross sales the first year.  No one cared about a saddle made to stop saddle soring. They didn’t recognize there was such a thing. After selling a few saddles I had the 1st customer bring one back to have the horn removed. Karen Beason was an Endurance rider. I saw the thick  skirts had shaped to her horse & decided to fix that. I told her I modified her saddle a bit & to let me know how it worked. She became the Central Region Champion with that horse and saddle. I applied for a patent on the system I designed for her saddle, that was the first ORTHO-FLEX which I still have.  ORTHO-FLEX became an overnight success with the Endurance crowd. The company was off and running after the 1st RACE OF CHAMPIONS in 1985. Former TEVIS winner, Margie Prior, rode the 2nd OrthoFlex to a 5th place on a horse so sore she was about to be pulled before the ride. He came thru it with no soreness afterward.  It may be news to anyone reading this today, because there was never a story on ORTHO-FLEX SADDLE COMPANY in any major horse magazine. Even though it became the worlds largest CUSTOM SADDLERY by 1989. In my next blog entry, I’ll explain why and give you some insight as to what you are allowed to read & purchase in the US horse world. It’s an interesting little story of Anti Trust, Unfair Business Trade Practices, and Market domination all controlled by an organization

My horse Charlie, the Trip saddle, leather clothes, etc..
My horse Charlie, the Trip saddle, leather clothes, etc.., we lived this Leather Garb  24-7 for the 8 months outdoors.

called WESA.

Regards to those that see this first post. I’ll try to divert  some time that is normally kept for my customers at www.thecorrector.net  I will also answer questions here to service those of you that have questions about saddle problems, horse problems, etc.. as best I can. Regards, Len Brown