Technical Details and Philosophy

Designed from Understanding

"These wonderful saddles are the Ferrari of the saddle world! The height of quality, design and innovation, they are supremely comfortable to ride in – for both horse and rider!"

From years of studying the bio-mechanics of the ridden horse, we realised that the saddles used for international equestrian competitions are usually derivatives of the English hunting saddle, a very old design going back to the 18th century.
To modify this further would have meant repeating the mistakes of our competitors and ending up with same sort of compromise.

We needed to start from the beginning which meant reconsidering the tree on which the saddle is built. The whole demeanour and attitude of a horse will often change when muscles that were frequently compromised become free of restriction and pressure from an uncomfortable saddle.

To tree or not to tree? That is the question.

At first it seemed a good idea to make a tree-less saddle. However, building a saddle that would be acceptable in competition would be difficult if not impossible due to the need for a frame on which we could fix the flaps and seat.
Treeless would also mean increasing the risk of the girth straps and stirrup leathers causing concentrated pressure, particularly if the rider posts at the trot for prolonged periods.

Moving panel concept?

The horse’s back changes shape with every stride and we needed to preserve even panel contact as far as possible.
We investigated the moving panel concept but found that it raised the rider’s centre of gravity too much and masked the riders subtle seat aids. There was also a problem with increased pressure on flat backed horses with these over large panels interfering with the rider’s thigh contact. Why make a saddle within a saddle? There was also an unacceptable rise in unsprung weight. Weight matters


Architects and Engineers specifications for Strada Dressage, Endurance and Jumping saddles:

Our Saddles

In all our saddles we have paid careful attention to the rider's position and seat comfort. The distance between a rider’s seat bones can vary tremendously from person to person and therefore will affect the part of the seat on which the rider chooses to sit. As we believe that the best place to sit is around thoracic vertebra 14 we have designed a seat that encourages the rider to sit in the correct place regardless of their size! Suffice to say that the seat size we have designed fits all our customers.


All our saddles feature the unique Strada active tree and our very successful heat, pressure and humidity intelligent panels: the longer you ride the more comfortable they become. The panels themselves are shaped and moulded during a unique manufacturing process utilising a very high density, light weight, visco- elastic foam. They are covered with an extremely durable, matt black membrane to ensure rapid heat exchange. Once at body temperature the material takes on the consistency of firm flesh and unlike wool flocked panels there are no lumps or bumps.; they are also maintenance free!
Many saddle manufacturers create the illusion of a wide gullet by setting the panels so far apart that they are no longer fully under the tree. This leaves the tree partially unsupported causing concentrated pressure on the edge only. Unless the panels support the tree entirely they are merely an illusion of weight bearing and therefore a sales gimmick! We have discovered that the rails of the tree have to run parallel to the horse’s spine and must be fully supported by the panels. There is also a limit to the distance between the rails of about three inches, if the rider is to maintain relaxation of seat and legs! Distance between the rider’s seat bones (adult) can vary from approximately 3 to 7 inches. This variable distance must be supported by the tree to ensure rider comfort and effective seat aids.


Strada Saddles New Zealand fitter, Sarah Cullen, shares some background on the fitting system designed by David Bowler ~ Strada Saddles, with their unique tree designs. This describes the theory behind Strada Saddles fitting system that truely works and is a proven advancement from traditional methods. This is only made possible by the special designs of our flexing trees & our panels that eliminate pressure from the horses riding experience.


We do not believe in “throw away” technology.

Occasionally we make minor improvements to the design of our saddles and built into this design is the facility to upgrade if our customers consider it desirable so you do not have to buy a new saddle to get the latest model; the cost is low to the original purchaser.


Complimentary Products

Using the understanding we have gained in the development of our saddles, we have produced a range of numnahs, girths, bridles and stirrup leathers that incorporate much of the same technology and philosophy. Our aim has always been to help the horse and rider work more closely together without discomfort or restriction. Maintaining the link between ourselves, and our customers is also very important to us and we do this by distributing our products through the recommendation of selected professional riders and trainers.

To find out about viewing or purchasing a particular product please contact us: