What is different about a barrel racing saddle? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 04-03-2013, 07:42 PM Thread Starter
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What is different about a barrel racing saddle?

Excuse me for being new to barrel racing, but I am just curious - What is different about a barrel racing saddle? In competitions, do you have to use a "Barrel Saddle", or can you use a lightweight trail saddle.

Hypothetically speaking, say my horse is extremely hard to fit. He has one fitting saddle, a trail saddle that is reletively light weight, but doesn't have the typical barrel saddle look to it. The horse has the potential to make it in big competitions.

For other equestrian sports (say jumping for example; you can use an AP saddle for low levels, but you are expected to have a CC saddle for higher levels), the low levels are more lenient on saddle types, but higher levels require a specific type of saddle. Is it like that with barrel racing? If my horse made it big, wouod I be forced to find a different saddle to continue up? Or as long as my horse works well in the lightweight trail saddle, could we continue in that?

Also, what would you say is a good, average weight of a barrel saddle? Thank you :)
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post #2 of 11 Old 04-03-2013, 07:49 PM Thread Starter
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What If I wanted to barrel race in a lightweight saddle, like these Abetta saddles?

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post #3 of 11 Old 04-03-2013, 08:00 PM
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I don't know much about the "rules" of barrel racing, but I can tell you that a barrel saddle tends to have a deeper seat and the positioning of the stirrups tends to put you into a more upright seat (instead of sitting on your seat pockets, you're actually sitting more on your seat bones, like you would in an English saddle). They also tend to be fairly light (less weight for the horse to carry theoretically means more speed).

I rode in a barrel saddle for the first time ever on Saturday. It was a Circle A with a lightly padded ostrich seat. I loved the position it put me in (closer to the position of my Aussie saddle, which is a very "correct" position) and it was actually comfortable (except for the right stirrup not being turned correctly). I've ridden in trail saddles, roping saddles, ranch saddles and equitation/show saddles and ALL of them gave me bruises on my butt bones and made it hurt to walk afterward. The barrel saddle did not, because it put me in a more proper, balanced position.
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post #4 of 11 Old 04-03-2013, 08:06 PM
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Barrel saddles are usually pared back versions of a regular saddle. They are smaller and lighter with less skirt to reduce bulk and a deeper seat to give you more stability. Thats about the only difference. Like every saddle you get what you pay for. For low level and just learning, a regular saddle is fine. The key is in proper training and not saddle size if you want to win.

Make sure your horse can rate, change leads, lift his ribs and shoulders, and easily sit at the gate calmly before a run and stop after a run. Dont work him solely in an arena or he will sour. Dont run the cloverleaf pattern in practice, mix it up so he doeant expect ot and stop listening to you.
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post #5 of 11 Old 04-04-2013, 03:17 PM
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There typically are no tack rules at barrel races. Therefore, if you were so inclined, you could barrel race in a roping saddle .... or no saddle at all!

However, barrel saddles are designed with barrel racing in mind. It will help keep the rider in the best position during the run, and it will stay out of your horse's way.

You wouldn't play basketball in football cleets (sp?) would you? Sure, you could, but a basketball shoe is going to be a better MATCH for the sport you want to EXCEL in.

Barrel saddles have a deeper seat, and typically slightly forward stirrups. It also is lighter weight (anywhere from 15 pounds to 28 pounds, depending on the brand), with less leather on the skirts that doesn't get in your way around a tight barrel turn. The horn is tall and skinny to make it easy to grab during a turn to stabilize your body.

Yes, you can barrel race in whatever you'd like.

But a barrel racing saddle is going to help you excel at the top level of competition, if that is where you want to be. Point being, you won't see any of the National Finals Rodeo girls running in anything but a barrel saddle. And you won't see any 1D NBHA champions running in anything but a barrel saddle. The tack fits the sport.
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post #6 of 11 Old 04-04-2013, 05:37 PM
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That is one of abettas versions of a barrel saddle
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post #7 of 11 Old 04-04-2013, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Casey02 View Post
That is one of abettas versions of a barrel saddle
Really? You mean the one I posted a picture of? The seat didnt look deep enough to me, but it could be the angle. I love that saddle. A friend has one just like it, and it is so comfortable.
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post #8 of 11 Old 04-04-2013, 06:16 PM
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Yes the one you posted a picture of.. a barrel saddle does not have to have a deep cantle. Its all personal preference. People tend to like them because they help keep you in coming off the barrel. Also trial saddles are starting to have a deeper cantles for back support. The one you posted a picture of has a 4inch cantle (I believe) that's pretty high, they usually go up to 5inches. If you like that type of saddle and it is comfortable to you, find one that fits your horse! If you buy them new they are not that expensive BUT for a synethdic saddle that is normal. That is also a nicer brand name of synethdic saddle.. Now if you were buying a leather saddle for $400 new..there would be a problem (unless it was used)

I also new a girl who had that saddle and love running in it. I know a little girl who is running in one now, its nice because she can lift it up on to her horse with out help
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post #9 of 11 Old 04-04-2013, 06:28 PM
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Every barrel saddle is different-- some with a higher horn, they could be leather wrapped or rawhide wrapped-- different fork(pommel) shapes-- higher cantels make for a deeper feel-- some aint high as others-- you can have round or squared skirts onyour barrel saddles. It really just depends on the rider and whats comfortable for them.

If i barrel race these days its in a rope saddle or its bareback just playin around. You cant compete bareback-- unless its a bareback barrel raceor 'extreme barrel race' lol. Fun stuff!

Im pretty sure ive left the rain jacket and rope on my saddle and they didnt say anything to me for it-- at a 4H local yokel.
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post #10 of 11 Old 04-04-2013, 06:51 PM
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I don't know how I managed a few decent times barrel racing in a roper cuz that's all I owned.
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