You may be dazzled by the styling of a particular saddle, but what you can't see--the tree underneath--is one of the most important elements to selecting the saddle that's right for you.
The term saddle tree refers to the foundation of the saddle, and informing yourself about the pros and cons of each type of saddle tree will be a great benefit.
Ever since man decided that just riding around on a saddle blanket wasn't good enough, saddle trees have been made from wood (hence the term "tree"). As modern as we think we are, wood trees are still serving their purpose. But what's covering the wooden parts after they're formed together is what makes the wooden tree so useful:
When first introduced, the saddle with the flexible tree was looked upon with much skepticism. But today flex trees seem to be making a lot more satisfied horses. Flexible trees retain their rigid fork and cantle, but allow the bars of the saddle to flex and conform to the horse's movement.
The term ralide refers to both the material and the U.S. trademarked manufacturer of the material. Ralide is a synthetic type of polyethylene. The trees are manufactured using a molding process, which lowers production costs and makes Ralide trees more economical. Ralide, like its wood competitor, proves to be durable, flexible, and strong.