Choosing a Tree for Your New Saddle
We have several methods to help determine what is the best fit for your animal.
Obviously the easiest way is to meet face to face. This can be done by trailering in to our location. We can also come to you, however the saddles are here on location. Read under Saddle Fitting about hosting a Saddle Fitting Barn gathering. It will allow a group of riders, 4-5, to schedule a pre-paid appointment in which case I will bring saddles and all saddle fitting equipment for a start to finish beginning to building your dream saddle!
If the case of a fit need that is far away, we can offer these several options.
Tracings: these are quite specific to our saddles because we know where are saddles are designed to sit on the horse: on the back side of the scapula. We can email you specific directions. We can then recreate the Saddle Gauge based on your tracings and choose a tree.
The Saddle Gauge: You can either purchase through us and we have the gauge drop shipped to you, or we can "rent' and ship you a tool gauge that measures the back of the animal 3D. Very easy to operate. The cost of the rental is shipping it both directions, approximately $20 each way, and the gauge itself $150.00 When you go to build your saddle the $140 is credited to your saddle cost, shipping is not refundable. To get to the point of actually assessing your fit and tree choice, we have spent over two hours reading photos and fit trees. Should you choose to not build a saddle we will refund you $125.00 by check.
How long are my measurements good for? Two months from the time we choose a tree fit.
Can I share the chosen tree designation? It is our policy to not divulge which tree is best for your animal. The reason for this is they are specific to our saddles, and another saddle maker uses different skirting, rigging, pommel height, gullet width, underside materials etc. which can change the fit.
What if I have more than one equine? A full set of directions and photos plus the Gauge paperwork is sent to you via email. Should you need to use the gauge for several animal, simply copy the paperwork and do the gauge steps several times.
Where do I ship the Saddle Gauge when I'm done? Often the gauge is sent on to the next customer so be sure to write or call for instructions as to where to ship the Saddle Gauge. It's a very busy piece of equipment!
You can also use the EQUIMeasure Mold, sold on the internet. That is a saddle pad size piece of plastic material that you warm up in your oven and mold it to your horses back. Though a bit pricey, a person can get two different sessions out of one kit.
What else do you need? In addition there are a series of photos that need to be taken as well as a brief video of the animal moving at liberty, and you riding. Once we have everything we need, you can choose what style saddle you want to build along with all the details that make your custom saddle your own.
Do you guarantee fit? That's impossible due to the fact that all our equines change with fitness, age, and health. However we have an excellent track record and part of your relationship with us is we offer saddle fitting knowledge after you receive your saddle. We teach you a few techniques to "read your fit" for now, six months from now, and your other animal.
Is my custom saddle returnable and what is your warranty? Custom saddles are just that: Custom. Although there are many others who use the term custom, these actually are custom and take a great deal of time up front to get exactly what you want. Each saddle is built on it's own tree, therefore each piece of leather is hand cut and fitted to that tree as well. Double Diamond is a small custom saddle shop started in 1990, not a large chain of brick and mortar tack shops with store rooms and racks full of in stock saddles to sell. We have built our company on individual attention to detail, quality workmanship,expertise and experience, and they are worth the wait. We build our saddles one at a time by hand, from the tree up. If we have made a mistake on your order, it's our responsibility to fix it. Steele guarantees their trees for 5 years. Other than that, due to the specificity of your designs and tree, your saddle is yours to keep. Should you decide to not keep your saddle we are happy to help you sell it on our website.
The Trees We Use in our Double Diamond Saddles
We use the Steele Saddle Tree Company trees for most of our custom saddles that we build. The Double Diamond saddles are built on Steele trees.
Steele Saddle Tree Company has been building trees for several generations in Tennessee. They have hundreds of trees available but so as to narrow down the choices, have developed a collection of the most common "fits" naming it the "Fit to be Seen" group. We have that collection as well as several other variations for gaited and mules/donkey and draft size bodies. The Steele trees can be altered by width either to be wider (by adding +1/2, or 1" and so on) and built to be narrower (-1/2, 1" and so on). The reason for the fit trees is to determine the four angles. The width is then considered and is taken into consideration when discussing saddle pad thickness etc.
Although trees can be sent to the customer, there are so many reasons why this is a less than satisfactory process that we have decided to use a tool called the Saddle Gauge. Using the Saddle Gauge , taking photos and a moving video, and tracings, takes all the guess work out of building on the correct tree.
Steele trees come in the standard semi and full quarter, arab, gaited, mule, and everything in the middle . We have a full collection of the Fit to be Seen system as well as many other additional fits not available to the public.
Breed specific trees: although Steele names some of their trees, don't get fooled thinking because you own an arab your horse is going to fit an arab tree, nor if you own a mule that it's going to fit well in a mule tree. More times than not it's quite the opposite. Steele has "named" some of their trees just because, but saddle fitters understand why a gaited horse or mule does not necessarily fit into the breed named tree. It needs a tree that fits, period.
Keep in mind this is not a quick process, and often times takes a couple of weeks or more, but in the long run both you, and your riding partner, will feel more connected, balanced, and out of the distraction of pain from an ill fitting saddle.