Santa MK III Fender


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The Santa MK III, as the name implies is the third generation saddle in a model designed by Trevor James of James Saddlery. The Santa has sold successfully for around 30 years. Trevor recalls the Santa MK II, thirty five years ago saddle trees were traditionally built of wood and steel. The tree technology Trevor used in the Santa range was revolutionary and is still in the Santa MK III.

The tree and kneepads are made in one piece. The outer shell is made of fibreglass, a solid steel gullet with stirrup bars welded to it is inserted along with a piece of steel running tip to tip through the kneepad section. The tree is then injected with granulated fibreglass. This puts all the steel into an airtight situation meaning no rust occurs but also that there is no steel or rivets outside the tree to sore up a valuable horse. 

All stress points, kneepads etc are inlaid with Kevlar. Bullet-proof vests are made of this. The parts where screws are used are inlaid with steel. All of this allows for a light,extremely strong tree with thin side rails allowing the closest contact possible. 

The tree style is also important. The Santa MK I and MK II were designed for horses in use 25 or 30 years ago (mostly thoroughbred types) where as the Santa MK III is designed for horses popular today i.e. Semi Quarter Horse types. It is also designed for today’s rider. 

When it comes to fender saddles the most common customer comment Trevor hears is  “I don’t like these new fender saddles, you can’t get your feet forward if you are suddenly galloping downhill or just want to ride foot forward”. The reason for this is that most fender saddles are built on rawhide trees just like an American saddle. This means the fenders are situated further back on the tree and pass over and around the side rail of the saddle. They are right, you can’t get your feet forward and the fender is there for life. The inside of a rawhide covered tree is pine timber and they contain no steel to support a stirrup bar. The technology in the Santa MK III tree does allow for a stirrup bar, a safety feature now recognised world wide as a distinctly Australian feature. 

Apart from being a safety feature allowing the fender to slide off if the rider is being dragged, the position of the stirrup bar allows the rider to make the choice to ride western style, or feet forward, or however is most comfortable under any given circumstance. 

Importantly the Santa MK III has the pommel built fairly high. This allows for the underside of the pommel to be cut away so even the odd high withered horse has plenty of clearance. The high pommel also allows for the kneepads to be placed up high. This has two benefits. One is that the fender is able to swing freely past the bottom of the pad if you so desire and if a horse puts its head down you slide under the kneepad, not over the top and out of the saddle.  

This saddle is close contact and has a ten year guarantee on tree and kneepad. The tree and saddles are designed by Trevor James. The leather is 100% American cowhide.