Saddle Up
Treeless Saddles for Balance, Freedom, Comfort

PaulitaThomasWEBHowdy:  My name is Paulita Neff. I live in the beautiful Mountains of Virginia with my long time partner Jeff, our wonderful herd of horses (3 Arabs, 1 QH and 1 Spotted Walker who belongs to my dear friend Susie) and our great dogs “Kula” and “Billy Jack.” I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to live and ride here. Jeff and I enjoy many days in our treeless saddles trail riding the awesome trails next to our home.  Jeff doesn’t realize we are on conditioning training rides for endurance rides since he’s in his Barefoot saddle now. He doesn’t ride endurance yet. I’m holding out hope that he someday will catch the fever.

I so believed in the treeless saddle experience that I bought into the business. After riding for the past 40 years, I’ve gone through many saddles and disciplines. I’ve been horse crazy for as long as I can remember. Always dreaming of the pony standing next to the Christmas tree. I started riding at the age of five at Deerfield Horse Center in Great Falls, Virginia–schooling horse with those old English saddles.  I didn’t care at that point in my life, as I was just so happy to be riding once a week. As I grew up and moved to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia I starting riding a variety of disciplines from showing Quarter horses in western pleasure to Tennessee Walkers in plantation classes (none of that padded stuff). Never feeling totally in tune with my horse until I purchased my first treeless saddle. For months I researched treeless saddles. The Freeform saddle was new to the United States, and offered everything I’d been looking for. Freedom of movement for my horses, the end to saddle fitting issues by adapting to all five of my different shaped horses. The contact between the horse and myself is like we’ve become one. What an amazing experience!  My horses have longer strides and freedom of shoulder movement; they also are able to have much better natural balance when ridden.  I still ride in my first treeless Freeform saddle and love it each and every time I go out.

I’m finally in a place in my life to enjoy the sport of endurance and many hours of trail riding. This connected me to a more natural way of riding for both horse and rider. The freedom, balance and comfort for both myself and my horses are an unbelievable experience.

JeffShayWEBJeff loves to ride Shay on our camping trip to Durbin WV. Shay is a gaited mare who loves to move out along the river. Both of them spend hours hunting wild mushroom.  Jeff rides on a Freeform Cascade saddle. We use a HAF pad that has been retrofitted with equipedic foam insert and a thin poron panel velcro directly to the saddle. Works great for the two of them. Happy Trails.

AshbywebAshby wanted to ride the Old Dominion ride instead of letting Mimi. He just loves to ride. "Let's go up that mountain Mimi." I can't wait for the day I can take him on his first Limited Distance ride.

Susan Caldwell
Sales Assistant

What a busy year I am having! Moving into a new home, my daughter getting married and a new career! And as I have always been told, "the older you get the faster time goes by", and these past few months have been a blur. So when Paulita encouraged me to try a new adventure and join Saddle Up, I just had to say "heck yeah!" After all, mixing business with pleasure just seemed to be the right thing to do!

[caption id="attachment_2416" align="alignleft" width="496"]Dumas and Susan in the new home's kitchen. Dumas and Susan in a friend's kitchen.[/caption]

How it all began… Paulita and I became quick friends about 13 years ago, although we met many years before that. With our mutual love for plants, I would frequent her green houses and always leave with a trunk full of beauties (I just loved her scented geraniums). Then years later, children grown, our paths crossed again. (Funny how that happens). So many hours have now been shared here in Virginia, riding the trails of the beautiful George Washington National Forest and making new trails on our own properties.

My love of horses began early on with riding my neighbors spotted ponies. My Dad bought be a fun little black pony with I was 11 and I had him till I went to college. My next love was Appaloosas and I bought two! Later on I made the transition to a smoother ride with my Tennessee Walkers and Spotted Saddle Horses.

Now in case you were wondering how it came to be that I was recruited by Paulita to join Saddle Up, this is how it started…Several years ago I travelled to Kentucky and bought two stunning 2 year old tri-colored spotted mares. These horses were both very big for their age and eventually grew to over 16 hands. Now trying to get my heavy western saddle up on these girls' backs took quite an effort. Paulita, of course, was having no trouble at all getting her FreeForm saddle in place. So when she suggested I try riding in her Classic, that was all it took! The comfy seat, plus the ease of tacking up, made me a quick fan! She was always sending me home with magazines and books to read on saddle fit and how it affects performance. When she was in the process of designing a new saddle or a new girthing technique I was sometimes the "guinea pig". So when Saddle Up grew, and Paulita needed some extra help, the decision was made to have me tag along!

I look forward to learning and sharing that knowledge with each of you interested in improving your ride and your horses comfort!