Try It First


We stand by our trail saddles and have long used the Try Before You Buy Demo Trail Saddle Program which allows you to ride a demo trail saddle for two weeks at a cost of only $75 – $85 to cover the UPS shipping costs for the continental 48 states (or actual UPS shipping cost for outside continental USA) payable by credit card that remains on file with us until the Steele trail saddle demo is returned to our office. Customer is responsible for shipping cost to return Demo Trail Saddle to Custom Tree and Saddle Company.

*We need a photo from you before you receive a demo Steele Trail Saddle taken with your horse standing on level ground with their head up in riding position.  To be sure the horse is level, take a broom handle or something straight and place it from wither back to the hip so we can see what fit is correct for you.  The straight item needs to be level (you may have to pull the stick off the wither slightly to make it level or lift one end to make it level.  We need to see the straight line in relation to your horse’s back)


Three things about our Steele Trail Saddle Demo Program:

  1. You must use our Steele Saddle Pad during the Demo Process because we need the impression your demo trail saddle will leave on the pad to check your saddle fit.  If you choose to use your pad after purchasing a Steele Trail Saddle, then a thinner pad than normal (1⁄2 inch or less) will usually work just fine.  When designing the tree it took 4 1⁄2 years of riding the bare tree on the horse with no padding for the horse and no padding for the rider. This is why we suggest using a thinner pad because the pad is used for shock absorbency not to make a bad fitting tree fit. This same concept is used for the seat for the rider. We use minimal padding for the rider because the seat in the tree fits the anatomy of the rider and the padding there is also used for shock absorbency. Just like for the horse no amount of padding in the world will ever make a bad tree fit.
  2. The girth system needs to go at a slight angle forward and the girth needs to fall two (2) fingers behind the front leg/elbow of the horse. After you tighten the girth (please do not over tighten the girth). The front 20% of the saddle with a lock down on the horse’s withers to enable the rider to get on and off the horse. You will notice that the back end of the saddle will be up off the horse just slightly. When the weight of the rider is in the saddle, the back end of the saddle rests down on the horse’s back, the front 20 % will raise up slightly, now you have even pressure throughout the bottom of the saddle whether you are standing in the stirrup or sitting in the seat.  The rider works with this fit to the horse because we have designed a rider’s groove that has a rise that comes up in front of the rider. This rise kicks the rider’s pelvis up straight and tucks their rear-end under creating a deep-seated pocket which adds a lot of security. This keeps the rider’s back up straight and keeps pressure off the inner thighs, knees, and ankles.
  3. Our standard fit to the horse is fitting 85 to 90 % of the horses that we send it out to regardless of breed. We work mainly from two tree fits for this 85% to 90%. We have many fits for the other 10 to 15 % that our standard fit to the horse does not work for.

    The perfect fit for horse and rider is always our focus at Steele Trail Saddles and one reason we provide our Demo “Try before you Buy” Trail Riders have the opportunity to truly test-drive the rider’s groove while trail riding and see if the fit works for you as well as for your horse then by submitting the photos we can see the actual fit here to assist you.
    We take the comfort of horse and rider seriously and have found the photos you provide from your DEMO program help us ensure the perfect saddle, which is why it is so important.
    The Steele Saddle Pad is an integral part of the Demo Process because we need the impression your demo trail saddle will leave on the pad to check your saddle fit. Other pads can sore your horse as they do not allow the saddle to sit down on the horse for a comfortable fit. We want to ensure the demo process works and we do not waste your money on shipping and handling. Our pad can be used with any saddle and has been found to provide more freedom at the front and back of the saddle. You can purchase a pad or we can provide a Demo Pad.

What makes Steele Trail Saddles Different?  It’s like a circle and we will start explaining at the back of the saddle and how it affects rider and horse.

  1. Saddle Fit.  Before you ever mount up on other trail saddles the back is sitting firmly on the horse as most saddle makers want to mirror image the horse with their tree.  The issue with this is there is no rider in the saddle and the horse is not moving.  Once the rider heads down the trail, this mirror image will not allow freedom of movement for the horse.  When a saddle is already touching before the rider’s weight rests in the saddle, it will reverse the rider’s weight and put pressure on the front of the saddle.  Most damage to horses are in their withers area.  At this point, most saddle makers will note the pressure and simply widen the tree which causes more damage as the saddle runs downhill and cause even more pressure.
  2. Into the seat.  The lowest point of the seat is at the base of the cantle which forces your body forward putting all your upper body weight onto your forward pelvis – pubic bone area and forcing your lower back to support the weight causing back pain.  Sitting this way causes you to spread your legs further apart and causes inside thigh pressure, outside knee pressure, and placing more weight into the stirrup than necessary.  Also, the back of the saddle seat is typically too low and does not afford any support for your back while trail riding.
  3. Tree Width. Most trail saddle makers make the front end of their tree (gullet) sit at the base of the A-frame of the withers, in other words, if withers were shaped like an A, they sit at the base of it which is the widest part of the wither.  When the saddle fits at the base of the A-frame it doesn’t fit as the horse changes size due to aging, changing weight for pasture weight vs riding season, etc.  Our Steele Saddle sits at the middle of the A-frame so we do not have these issues allowing our “standard fit” to sit perfectly on 85-90% of horses and our custom fit to adjust for those horses with specific needs.
  4. Stirrup Leathers.  In other saddles, the stirrup leathers are set back too far driving your knee forward at a 45-degree angle towards the ground putting pressure on the knees and ankles.  The rider is constantly fighting to drive the stirrups forward as they relax in the seat for comfort.
  5. The Girth System. On other saddles always pulls the nose of the saddle down putting pressure on the horse’s withers, whether they are using their front girth system or their center-fire system.  Our girth system works with the rider and does not pull the nose of the saddle down.  The rider’s pelvis is up straight and their rear is tucked under.  If you draw an imaginary line off your hips, it lines up with our girth system at a slight angle forward and does not pull the nose of the saddle down.
  6. We would also like to mention that Flex Panel Saddles, Flex Tree Saddles, Tree-less Saddles, and Shims in your pad are all very bad for your horse.  Flex Panel tree saddles put pressure on the 4 points of the saddle where panels are attached to the tree.  Flex trees put pressure in the flex joint from the rider’s weight.  Tree-less saddles put all the weight of the rider on the horse where you are sitting instead of distributing the weight properly.  Shims in your pad:  No padding of any kind will ever make a bad fitting saddle fit correctly.  It just changes the problem.

What size trail saddle do you need?  Our Steele trail saddles come in S, M, L, and XL.  For example, someone weighing 140 – 190lbs would require a medium fit. Upon request, we can make 1⁄2 sizes.  We have four different lengths of  fenders.  When using our Try Before You Buy Demo Program we first want a photo of you on your horse to see what will fit you best.

Seat Sizes are by weight:
Men’s Small  (100-180 lbs)
Men’s Medium  (181-230lbs)
Men’s Large  (231-290lbs)
Men’s X-Large  (291-up lbs)
Youth  (Under 90 lbs)
Women’s Small  (90-140 lbs)
Women’s Medium  (141-190 lbs)
Women’s Large  (191-239 lbs)
Women’s X-Large  (240-up lbs)

Fender Sizes are by height:
Shortest for 5’3″ and under
Short for 5’4″ – 5’7″
Standard for 5’8″ – 6’3″
Long for 6’3″ or taller

Our standard fit is fitting 85 to 90 % of the horses that we send it out to regardless of breed. We work mainly from two tree fits for this 85% to 90%. We have many fits for the other 10 to 15 % that our standard fit to the horse does not work for.  Our saddles come in S, M, L, and XL.  For example, someone weighing 140 – 190lbs would require a medium fit. Upon request, we can make 1⁄2 sizes.  We have four different lengths of fenders.

It is possible we will not have the exact model style trail saddle you are looking for specifically to ride as a demo but we will get you a saddle that is the right fit for you so that you can experience the Steele Trail Saddle ride of a lifetime.  If you are planning to take the saddle to ride at a particular event we ask that you plan ahead so we can ensure a demo saddle is available.

You will find all the styles and leather colors available on our website and if need be, we will send you leather samples upon request.  Your comfort and that of your horse is important to us and we have stayed in business because that is our single focus.

After you use the demo saddle, to be sure the fit is right for both you and your horse, we ask that you send us 12 very specific photos so that we can assist you fully.  SEE PERFECT FIT 1-12

We include with every Try it before you Buy Steele demo trail saddle a Steele saddle pad which we have found to be the best pad for horse and rider which 95% of our riders purchase with their new saddle.   The pad allows us to tell if you have the correct fit as it fully reflects the impression of the demo saddle on the saddle pad.

If you are concerned about specific issues with your horse, we can also send you a mold kit for your horse’s back. You would heat it in the oven for 10 minutes, lay it on your horse’s back to cool, and return it to us. This way we have a replica of your horse’s back in our shop to build the tree by. We then add stirrup leathers, rigging, and a temporary seat to the tree so you can actually ride the tree to check the fit to the horse before we complete the saddle.

A good fitting tree should be like a ski in the snow. A skier’s weight is distributed properly underneath the hard surface of the ski from front to back. Our tree has a hard surface under it; there’s not a lot of padding. We insist on the rider not using a thick pad because in order to distribute your weight underneath the tree just like that ski in the snow. The hard surface needs to allow your weight to flow from front to back evenly with no pressure points for the horse. If you use a 3⁄4 or 1-inch pad like most riders use with their saddles you will create your own pressure point from the thicker pad. In other words, you will stop the flow of your weight is distributed evenly from front to back. The rider helps this fit tremendously because the rise that comes up in front of the rider tilts their pelvis up straight and tucks the rear-end under into the center of the saddle allowing even weight distribution under the tree.

Steele trail saddle demos have seen many miles on the trail and you will see the quality that keeps providing perfect trail riding comfort for years.

Our trail saddle demo program is very valuable to the customer and we want you to take full advantage of it to ensure the best fit for the horse and for the rider.  We want to earn your referral as a satisfied Steele Saddle customer for life.  Remember our trail saddles are backed by an unconditional lifetime guaranteed on your tree.

Still have questions?  See our Questions & Answers Facts Page or email me via our Contact Us Page and I’ll get back to you promptly.

Ready to try our Steele Trail Saddle Try Before you Buy Demo Program?

Eric Hawkins, Steele Saddle Company
1-615-746-2456  |

Custom Tree and Saddle Company, 2473 Erin Rd, McEwen, TN  37101

Customer is responsible for all shipping and handling of the Demo Trail Saddle secured via credit card. This includes but not limited to S/H to and from Custom Tree and Saddle Company.