Stubben saddles are legendary for their tree design. The saddles are constructed in Stans, Switzerland, and construction of each saddle is comprised of two roughly parallel processes: the leather working and the creation of the tree. When both processes are finished, the leather, tree, and other necessary materials are combined to make a saddle that is iconic in its quality.
Each Stubben spring tree is made to specification to fit rider and horse perfectly. Though the process is exacting and expensive, the result is worth it: a comfortable saddle for both rider and horse that provides superior support for the rider. The tree is fitted with a steel front arch to protect the withers from injury and keep the saddle positioned correctly behind the horse’s shoulder.
The tree’s webbing absorbs the weight of the rider, while steel springs counteract the motion of the pommel and the cantle. The webbing on the Stubben tree is tensioned to establish the depth of the seat, and to work counter to the tree to provide elasticity. The webbing near the pommel is left long so that the billets can be attached.
After the webbing, the cantle plate is attached by hand. Once this is done, the tree can be covered with the seating material. Stubben uses composite seating material rather than foam for two reasons: foam breaks down over time, and it deadens sound, hindering the rider’s ability to communicate with the horse.
Once the seat and skirts are attached to the tree, excess leather is trimmed away, and the first two billets on each side are stitched to the webbing that was left long for this purpose. After the billets, the flaps are attached. Flaps, billets, and other parts of Stubben saddles are stamped and numbered, and bear the name of the craftsman and location where the saddle was produced.
Stubben Saddles’ tree represents the “gold standard” in custom saddle tree design, with a resulting ride like no other saddle.