How to Tell if a Saddle Tree is Broken

Updated July 7, 2023

Knowing whether you have a broken saddle tree is challenging because the tree is encased within the leather itself. Riding in a saddle with a broken tree can change your balance and damage your horse’s back over time. Instead of guessing, here are two methods to tell if your saddle tree is broken.

Flexion Test the Tree

Start by putting the cantle underneath your ribs and pulling the pommel back towards your body. If you see some flexion in the saddle, this is good. However, the saddle should not bend too much or fold in half. The tree is likely broken somewhere near the twist if it does bend in half. 

You can proceed to the point test once the saddle passes the flexion test.

Pull the Points

The next step is to hold the front of the saddle and pull the points of the pommel away from each other. Listen for squeaking in the saddle and watch for a great deal of movement. If you see or hear either of these, the tree is broken near the gullet.

Can a Broken Saddle Tree Be Fixed?

If your saddle fails either of these tests, stop riding in it immediately. Unfortunately, broken saddle trees are not repairable, and you must purchase a new saddle. 

Still, have saddle questions? Click the link to watch more saddle-fitting videos with Kate Ballard. You can also check out our saddle fitting guide or call SmartPak’s Customer Care team at 1-800-461-8898 – they’re always happy to help you.

The information provided in the Horsemanship Library is based solely on our SmartPak authors' opinions. SmartPak strongly encourages you to consult your veterinarian or equine professionals regarding specific questions about your horse's health, care, or training. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or behavior and is purely educational.