In recent years the practice of adjusting trees has become a common solution to an ill-ﬁtting saddle. However there are many facts to take into consideration before proceeding with such a task.
Firstly it’s important to consider what your tree is made of: Laminated wood, synthetic or combination?
Whatever the materials used it will be re-enforced with metal plates in the pommel and through the length. These metal plates are held in place by rivets which are drilled through the tree.
When it comes to adjusting the tree it will be placed in one of a variety of tree adjusting machines, some require infra-red lights to soften the tree as with synthetic trees, others use hydraulics to pull the tree points apart or squeeze them in. In the wrong hands a tree can very easily be ruined. They may be broken in the arch, a tree point breaking off or asymmetrically altered so that one point is at a deferent angle to the other, resulting in the saddle sitting crooked on the back. But possibly the most important fact, even in qualiﬁed hands, is metal fatigue and stress. This may not show up immediately but in time could possibly give way resulting in the tree unexpectedly breaking.
If you wish to pursue such an alteration contact the original manufacturer of the saddle to ask their advice as to whether their tree is one that they are happy to have adjusted and that they will stand behind it if altered and a problem arises. Also, whom would they recommend to do such an adjustment? I would have this information in writing before allowing a person to work on the tree.
I also feel this type of adjustment should only be done by someone fully trained in the making of saddles. Such a person will remove the panels and assess the tree’s design and integrity before performing the changes.
No matter what the tree is made of, when it’s adjusted it will alter the webbing (if used) and leather, stress/loosen the staples and nails used in attaching the leather and webs to the tree. The point pocket on the panels could tear due to stress or the point pop out of them as they are now in a different position from the original pattern design or the channel through the length of the panel closes up.
In essence the knock-on effect of adjusting a tree could be minor or major, requiring remaking the saddle.