The Fhoenix Soft Tree Saddle line includes the Vogue Saddle, their premium line offered in Dressage, GPS (all purpose), and GPT (jumping); the Iberica, which is equivalent to the Vogue in construction and in a classical Portuguese design; & the Fhoenix Standard, which is offered in Dressage & GP styles. In addition Heather has just completed the design of the new SoftEE Bridle & SoftEE Reins made of the same trademark Soft Italian Leather used in the most luxurious & comfortable saddles on the market today.
Many years of thought and product development have resulted in the
Vogue. And the best explanation of this saddle is from Heather herself! Included below are some excerpts from an interview with Heather Moffett creator of Enlightened Equitation (an idea, a society, and a book)…
The essence of Enlightened Equitation is that of ‘A kinder way to ride and train’, and also simplicity. Our motto is a quote from Indian teacher, Prem Rawat ‘Simplicity is the key to understanding’.
What is Enlightened Equitation?
When I wrote my first ever series of articles for ‘Riding’magazine here in the UK, the editor asked me what I would like to use as a title. To be honest, I hadn’t even thought about it! But, off the top of my head, the words ‘Enlightened Equitation’ came out, it seemed from nowhere! This may sound very strange, I was completely unknown at the time, other than locally, and had no idea how well the series would go. I was staying with some horsey friends the night before the first article was due out. They asked me why I had written the series. I replied ‘To open people’s eyes, to a better way of riding’. Next day, we went into as little market town in Wales, at a holiday time and it was crowded with tourists. I felt someone tug at my sleeve and looked down onto a tiny ancient, little Welsh gypsy lady. She looked up at me and said ‘You are going to open the eyes of many people, my dear’. My friends and I all stood open mouthed! It was a good omen, the series got one of the biggest postbags in the magazines recent history…
My book, also called ‘Enlightened Equitation’, which had become so synonymous with my work, that I trademarked it, sold 60,000 and was translated into Dutch and German.
Heather has designed the Seat Bone Saver, a number of other tack items, and a series of saddles (The Flexion Supreme, The Flexion SBS), the Fhoenix (with its latest designs: the Vogue, Iberica, & Fhoenix Standard). She explains the concept behind the Fhoenix, and what materials are used in its construction..
The Seatbone Saver was developed from ‘needs must’ for myself; the average dressage saddle, when attempting to sit in the deepest, most central part of the saddle to permit the Classical Seat, placed my seatbones on top of the seams of the saddle seat, or worse, lower down and on the hard unpadded slope of the tree. Subsequently, I developed bursal enlargements of my seatbones to the point that I couldn’t sit comfortably in an armchair never mind on a horse! This was a disaster for me, a professional rider, as I had to have six months out of the saddle. I tried all sorts of foams, sheepskins, gels etc, and nothing alleviated the problem. That is, until I discovered the very recently developed ‘memory foam’, invented for NASA to absorb the shock of G forces in astronauts seats during lift off. It was the very material that I needed with the properties of slow recovery – it didn’t spring back and add to the bounce under the rider but instead totally cushioned the seatbones, moulding to the shape of the rider’s seat, and then returning to shape once the rider dismounted. I designed the Seatbone Saver, as it came to be known, purely for my own use. But friends soon wanted them, leading to me to the decision to manufacture them!
The saddle was a logical progression. For many years I worked with saddlers in Walsall, the saddlery centre of England, designing treed saddles which easily placed the rider into the correct ear/shoulder/hip/heel alignment without a struggle to maintain it.
The biggest problem was getting fitters who came up to the very exacting standard of my bespoke saddler, and I hated having to turn down riders in areas where we simply had no fitters. I had ridden on a Barnsby treeless saddle as a child, ( in fact treeless saddles have been around since the Scythian Srmy, 2400 BC!) and had long been toying with the idea of producing a modern treeless-type saddle, using age old materials combined with the latest shock absorbing technologies. We started R &D in 1995, finally producing the first prototype in 1997 which is still in use today.
The Flexion SBS was the first treeless we released onto the market. The Fhoenix, (arose from the foundation) of the Flexions. The Fhoenix Vogue is the result of continued feedback and development, and is truly the best saddle I have ever designed. I really do not think I can improve on this one, it has support and the narrower twist of a treed saddle, traditional styling, the flexibility of fit, and the unrivalled comfort of a treeless saddle.
How do the new Fhoenix Saddles distinguish themselves from other treeless or part-treed saddles? What are the advantages for the horses? For the riders?
We do not term the saddle ‘treeless’ as it is much more structured than other treeless makes. We prefer to term it a ‘SoftTree’ (trade mark applied for) as the saddle has layers of material which form a ‘core’ similar to that of a tree with only the cantle being rigid to give support to the rider’s seat. The seat/pommel and cantle are made from the same memory foam used in the Seatbone Saver and other accessories, my treed saddles and the Flexions. It gives the rider a moulding soft seat. The leather ‘tree’ is the next layer; it supports the stirrup bars and girthing (with a pressure distributing webbing design), which does not go directly over the back of the horse, thereby eliminating the pressure points associated with some treeless saddles. There is a layer of thick pure wool felt, so dense that if you run a truck over it, it doesn’t compress. Under this is a layer of Plastozote foam, the main seating material used in most treed saddles. The panels are inserted into leather pockets on the underside of the saddle, and are comprised of moulded polyethylene foam, which even when a very heavy weight is left standing on it for 48 hours, springs back virtually unmarked. So the whole saddle is the thickness of a treed saddle and gives the same feeling of a ‘waist’ whereas many treeless saddles being so thin, do leave the rider feeling rather straddled on a wide horse.
How many different models of the Fhoenix are available at present?
There are now three lines, the Vogue, the Iberica, & the Fhoenix Standard.
The Fhoenix Vogue comes in Dressage, GPS (all purpose), & GPT (jumping) Styles and is available in our Soft Italian Leather, and suede knee and seat options in colors Black, Havana Brown, or Cognac. The premium Soft Italian hide is extremely strong and scuff resistant despite its softness and is of such quality that we reverse it for suede, meaning that the full substance of the hide is used, and not a ‘split’ which is commonly used and would be only half the thickness of the full hide.
The Vogue is available in sizes 17″ & 18″. Typically one would size up 1/2″ from what the size they have used in the treed. For instance the Vogue 18″ usually fits a rider who uses a 17″ – 17.5″ treed.
The less expensive Fhoenix Standard comes in two styles at present, the GP and the dressage style. The saddle comes in 16, 17″ and 18″ sizes and colors: black and Havana brown. It also features all Italian soft hide, or with butt leather flap options, and also suede seat and knee pads options.
Heather Moffett, designer of the Fhoenix Soft Tree Saddles
Riding in Iberica & SoftEE Bridle
Contact Karen Hisata, US Agent of Fhoenix Saddles & Accessories.
ph: 650-851-2412, 866-357-4464
We offer a generous 1 week Trial Period starting when the saddle arrives at your doorstep. New saddles in the different models are continually available for trial through our saddle bank. In fact, we also allow customers to KEEP the saddles they often fall in love with. You may find the saddle you LOVE without the usual wait for manufacture. We walk you through the whole trial process starting at the very beginning by establishing a clear understanding of a customer & their horse’s needs and past history.