(Today the Newest version of the Vogue are the 2011 Models). This article was published in 2010.
The newest version of Heather Moffett’s Fhoenix Soft-Tree Saddle, the Mark II has been on the market for a season now and I thought you might like to hear some of the feedback!
First of all, before we get to the interesting material, I’d like to clarify something. I’ve found that the names are a bit confusing for the public: What exactly is the Mark II, the Fhoenix, the Vogue etc?! Here is a quick explanation. The ‘Fhoenix’ are Heather’s Soft-Tree saddles – the name is rather all-encompassing. Thanks to Heather’s constant process of improvements and finding the best solutions, the ‘Fhoenix’ saddles have benefitted – they have undergone a constant evolution with many improvements over the past years. Preceeding the Fhoenix were the Flexxion & SBS Flexxion saddle (Heather’s earliest treeless saddle designs). I use the term ‘Original Fhoenix’ to identify the first Fhoenix models. The next evolution of the Fhoenix Saddle was the ‘Vogue – Mark I’ (available in Dressage, GPS, GPT) , and ‘Fhoenix Standard- Mark I’ (available in Dressage & GP) Soft-Tree Saddles. The ‘Mark I’ models work best on the broad-backed full bodied horses (baroque breeds, some Warmbloods, draft & draft-crosses cobs etc..).
The most recent ‘Mark II’ version has features which work very well for a broader range of builds including horses with lighter build breeds such as TB, some Warmbloods, etc) . The Vogue (Dressage, GPS, GPT), and the Fhoenix Standard (Dressage & GP) styles are available in both the ‘Mark I’ & ‘Mark II’ versions. Here is an article describing the Mark II in detail and how its features suit specific conformation types.
THE FHOENIX ‘SOFT-TREE’ ADVANTAGE:
Many Customers come to me looking for a saddle solution after having reached a breaking point in their treed saddle fitting efforts and resultant sorebacked or atrophied horses. They want the protection that a treed saddle can offer in terms of Zero wither or spinal pressure, but are seeking the benefits of a more flexible, body conforming saddle… Enter the Fhoenix ‘Mark I’ & ‘Mark II’!
So many horses just MOVE OUT! Their gates instantly change – tension melts away!
Here is a recent customer’s feedback on her ‘Vogue Dressage – Mark II’ demo experience:
My apologies to the next demo person, Suzanne but this saddle is SOLD! My horse was so forward and willing tonight, it was a kick to ride! Yippee! !
(This note was from an owner whose horse fit the aforementioned saddle dilemma description.)
I’ve found that the ‘Mark I’ fits broader, flatter backed horses extremely well.
For example, a few Morgan and Friesian owners who demoed the Vogue – Mark I saddle pretty much took the saddle out of the box, (it was fitted with the standard flat foam panel inserts) and rode away on their now beautifully moving horses without so much as a glance back! Needless to say, they purchased the saddle after one ride.
On the other hand, the fit for the more TB type horse or even the lighter built warmblood was oftentimes more of a challenge or would not fit. The ‘Mark I’ might need to be lifted at the shoulder, the very back edge of the cantle which was straight across might cause a pressure point, and the panel angles at the back might not fit the angle of the horse’s back.
These issues are addressed in the ‘Mark II’. The panel shape at the front is a fuller shape and provides more support, the cantle edge at back follows the contour of the gullet (so no pressure point!!!) , and the angle follows the horse’s angles better for a wider variety of builds.
My mare (an Oldenburg – 1/2 Selle Francais, 1/4 Hanoverian, 1/4 TB with an opinion about everything) loved her ‘Vogue Dressage – Mark I’, but I did not love having to shim the front and choose the pad selections to ensure against any cantle pressure at the very back edge – that was the Mark I. The ‘Vogue Dressage – Mark II’ I tested on her was a completely different story. She loved it, and I loved that all angles and clearances were perfect without having to adjust the saddle fit! My new ‘Vogue Dressage – Mark II’ in Black, All Soft Italian Leather, with a slightly scooped out +18″ seat, and 1″ shorter flaps, small adjustable knee blocks, 3 D-Rings (2 @ front, 1 @ back center to receive Smart Panel ties if I so choose to use it) is in the works – and all for no additional costs!
Tico, is an elegant, leggy, Trakhener horse whose owner tried the ‘Vogue Dressage – Mark I’ a couple years ago, and more recently tried the ‘Vogue Dressage – Mark II’. Tico’s owner could not find a comfortable saddle for her horse. 1n 2008 we tried the Mark I version on him – and I’d like to say that he loved it. But actually the demo was not comfortable for him and he said so in no uncertain terms. Pressure at the back of the cantle was definitely an issue. Tico also had very little topline and it turned out some sort of health issue that affected his general muscular comfort levels. Since then, his health has been addressed and his overall demeanor and condition have significantly improved. What I observed in our recent demo of the ‘Vogue Dressage – Mark II’ on Tico was a completely different picture. He LOVED it! His movement was relaxed and beautiful. The ride was too bouncy for his owner, but horse’s reaction was 2 hooves up! This last observation leads me to mention another feature of these Fhoenix saddles…
There are DIFFFERENT PANEL OPTIONS:
The ride with the Standard Foam Panel inserts in place gives a soft cush.
Trainer, Kris Barrett loves the Standard Panel set up for her rides on Trey, a Sucandi Lusitano. He moves beautifully in it and she loves her new saddle! Originally, Trey showed tension & discomfort in his back and hind end with his treed saddle. Kris decided to try the Fhoenix ‘Mark II’ saddle as a possible solution. It worked!
I feel less back tension in Trey when using this saddle... I have had a vet/chiropractor, plus a certified saddle fitter look at it, and they both liked it.
Got these photos taken today of Trey and was amazed at how easy it is to keep my position correct in the Vogue Mark II saddle. Thanks for carrying such a great product! – Kris
For the earlier horse mentioned, Tico, another panel set up would be better suited for the rider. It is a bevelled Felt Panel Insert paired with a lighter fill Smart Panel. This is the alternative that provides the firmest ride for the riders on big moving warmbloods.
Another alternative that many riders & horses love is the Smart Panel system. It provides a firmer ride than the Standard Panel Inserts, but less firm than the Felt Panel setup above. It also has a cork fill which gives a plastic fit, and more lift than the Standard Panel set up – so for horses with atrophy and asymmetries it can be a perfect solution. It may ride a bit high for some.
THE MULTI-FIT ADVANTAGE:
That pretty much says it all. As your horse develops and changes over time, this saddle will conform to his newly muscled body – no new saddles or expensive refittings needed! And many of our customers are trainers or multiple horse owners. They are looking for a saddle that can fit more than one horse…
Here is a recent customer’s note:
Hey Karen I got to take my first ride in the saddle this evening. I
loved this saddle on both of my horses.
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