Mackinder Saddle Makers


The heart of any saddle is the tree on which it is built. We make our own tree so that we don't have to accept what is avaliable, but rather set the standard for the necessities of the field we specialise in ie. endurance.

The Mackinder "FLEX RIDE SADDLE" should not be confused with a treeless saddle,our saddle has the benefits that a tree provides.
1) Correct rider position and postural support
2) Correct weight loading and dissapation
3) Flexability, both medial and lateral


This allows freedom from the sholders through the back and allows the saddle to contour to individual shapes.The posture of a rider in this saddle is ideal because the pelvis is easily maintained in an upright position, allowing for natural movement.

(Order the saddle here>)


Rigid trees traditionally made from timber, steel fiberglass and structural polyurethanes, by their very nature are unable to adapt (unless physically altered) to the daily fluctuations of an endurance athlete.
The Flex Foam tree "gives" and automatically positions the rider in the most natural balanced riding position, enabling the rider to feel the motion of the horse as the animal experiences new found unrestricted freedom of movement.


The lining of the panel is pure wool felt. Wool is absorbent and insulative, which assists in heat dissapation.
Between the pure wool felt lining and the tree we use a slow release foam, often used under long term hospital patients to aliviate pressure points. This has a memory, and takes into account the subtle variations, and gives the panel resilience, but without bounce.
Overall panel length is 20" or 50cm.


Stainless steel fitings are used throughout where ever buckles or attachment dees are needed. Stirrup straps are made from treated nylon with reinforced holes, the stainless steel adjustment buckle sits down low near the stirrup irons to avoid any bulk under the riders leg.
The aluminium stirrups have a wide base for weight distribution, and are fitted with a "Fatigue Fighter" foam with a ribbed rubber surface for grip.


Two one inch chrome girth straps are standard, they connect to load restraint web, which is sewn to the sweat flap, and then in a Y configuration, attaches to the both sections of the tree. No pressure is placed on the tree from the girth, as the pull is down on the flaps, making it self centering.
The girth is a non elastic anti-gall girth made using stainless steel roller buckles. They are fitted with a stainless steel dee in the centre of the the girth to clip a breast plate on to. Non elastic girth is chosen because the saddle has more than enough "give" in it.

With this picture we can easily see that the stirrup leather and iron is attached at the front of the tree. If you can imagine the effect, just like a "see-saw", with the majority of the riders weight being foreward, resulting in pressure, discomfort and ultimatly, pain for the horse in the shoulders.
The Mackinder "FLEX RIDE SADDLE" is built from the horses back up. The panel (underside) of the saddle is contured to the wither and spine profile. The stirrup attachment is built into the panel, in fact you could ride on this section before we even stitch the seat on. The seat is sitting on top of a"bare back" pad! This unique design eliminates the problems associated with traditional trees, such as jamming shoulders, restriction of movement due to rigidity and shortness of the horses stride due to pain.



Q. Is the Mackinder FLEX RIDE SADDLE the same as a treeless saddle?
A. Definitly not. When designing a saddle, one is trying to create a medium to bring the horse and rider together. The tree plays an important part in this, such as for the horse he needs some spinal clearence to allow the vertabrae to function unhindered. For the rider, it provides stability and postural comfort, a sloppy rider would have a disasterous result on a horse over five or six hours riding.

Q. What about even weight distribution?
A. When your horse is moving, so to is his back swaying from side to side, and following the terrain up and down. Imagine a piece of wood either side of the spine shaped to the contour of your horses back, as the horse and rider move the rigid tree remains the same, so people compensate by using larger thick saddle cloths and space age saddle pads to create some sort of a cushion to negate this effect. The FLEX RIDE SADDLE does not have this problem due to the unique design and properties of the tree, as it is not rigid.

Q. I had my saddle custom made, ie measured and fitted to suit my horse, why is it not fitting now?
A. The goal post in the saddle fitting is being continually moved! Athletes such as endurance horses change shape on a continual basis. After researching the weights of horses competing at the Shahazada Memorial 400klm Endurance event for the last 15 years it was found that the average horse lost between 5% - 7% of its own body weight, the largest weight loss took place in the first 80klms. The FLEX RIDE saddle adapts to the changing shape of the horse through the competition season alleviating this frustrating, and very common problem.

Q. Will my position on the horse remain the same as other saddles?

A. Your centre of gravity will be closer to the horse, you will sit around the natural shape of your individual horse, and you will feel much more of the horses movement.


Mackinder Endurance
248 Cedar Ridge Road
Kurrajong, NSW 2758
Phone: (02) 4576 1362