Some people say that the (non-traditional) Sports Saddle is like a bareback pad in some respects. It functions much like a traditional saddle while eliminating un-welcomed pressure points, typical with a solid-tree saddle. The bars (trees) are often responsible for producing pressure points at the shoulders or loins due to saddle bridging. The pressure points negatively affect both equine performance and rider satisfaction.
People often seek out the Sports Saddle because they enjoy the benefits of riding bareback, such as the ability to feel the horse under them and the ability to better communicate with the horse. But the rider will be sitting on a much softer seat.
Many riders have said that with the Sports Saddle they can feel the horse prepare to spoke or move out quickly before he actually does it. Riders are usually surprised that they can feel the horse breathe under them. The treeless saddle molds to the contours of the horses back and ribs in much the same way as a bareback pad, but the construction and padding on the Sports Saddle is significantly more functional and substantial.
The Sports Saddle is made of two durable layers of closed cell neoprene and the rest of the saddle is built upon and into this foundation. This foundation is extremely soft to ride in, and especially so if ridden with the Skito Equalizer pad, which consists of two pads made of a breathable open cell foam with a thick poly/wool fleece underside. This combination is unmatched in its level of comfort.
So, it's not necessary for the rider to sit on a hard, solid tree foundation. The Sports Saddle functions like a traditionally treed saddle while serving the rider with comfort and solves many a horses back problems due to the bridging affect from treed saddles.
The Sports Saddle also provides the functions of the traditional saddle. Each Sports Saddle model has a solid pommel and a cantle, which are not connected by a bar, as in treed saddles. The rider is sitting on padding instead of a solid tree. The stirrup rigging is bonded into the foundation providing the balance for the rider without the saddle slipping unlike the bareback pad.
A secure western girthing system like the traditional saddle is used on the Sports Saddle. Most of the Sports Saddle models include front and rear D rings and a crupper for utility on the trails. The Sports Saddles are very secure and can handle saddlebags, cantle bags, water bottles etc
People use the Sports Saddle in many riding disciplines such as barrel racing, endurance and competitive riding, pleasure and trail riding. The Sports Saddle is also used to start young horses, which was Bob Marshalls original intent with the Sports Saddle.
The Bob Marshall Sports Saddle is becoming increasingly popular with riders. One customer from Florida called to order a Barrel racing saddle at her trainers recommendation. She said that approximately 50% of all the riders where using the Bob Marshall Sports Saddle for barrel racing and that the horses seem to be able to move and bend better around the barrels and are making better time in the ring.
Trail riders are finding that their horses are more comfortable and so are the riders. For people who keep an open mind the (non-traditional) Sports Saddle could be the kind of saddle they've been looking for all along.