No news to report on the Russell/Michelle front (except that Russell is working on a winter coat), but I did run across a noteworthy article today.
I've had my share of saddle-fitting issues with my horses, and have had to work hard to find the right solution for each one. Treeless saddles have never made sense to me, because I know how much pressure a seated person's "seat bones" exert in a very small area. Saddle trees aren't ideal, but at least they spread the pressure over a broader area. This research proves that point; I hope the word gets out.
On a related issue, I never mount from the ground if there is anything within walking distance to stand on, because I have seen the kind of punishing, uneven pressure a saddle tree exerts on a horse's back when one mounts from the ground using a stirrup (as documented by a pressure-sensitive device placed under the saddle). My horses have all been trained to stand still next to anything I lead them up to - fence, stump, rock, trailer - so I can simply place my leg over the saddle and ease onto it.
Horses are so very forgiving of discomfort, but my goal is to eliminate or minimize any discomfort I, as the rider, cause.