09-27-2012, 10:18 PM
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I learned to ride in a stock saddle, specifically a Syd Hill Barcoo Poley, and I would never recommend anyone ever inflict one on their horse or their own backside. Going from there, there are many other types of off the shelf stock saddles, some better than others, but they all tend to position the rider appropriate to the old Australian riding position. This tends to be sitting back a bit with your feet out to the front a bit with your thighs under the kneepads. So if you tend to sit straighter in the saddle the more traditional Australian saddles would probably not be so comfortable. The first saddle I bought was custom made for me by a friend of mine who is an exceptional saddler (taught me most of what I know about horses and riding too actually), and it is what is called in Australia a “half breed” saddle. It is essentially a stock saddle built on a tree that is more like a western saddle, has a hard seat, fenders instead of saddle flaps, and skits like a western saddle but pommel and kneepads like an Australian saddle. If you go to my page and have a look at the second page of my photos, you will see one of my horses with this saddle on it. When I got it (about 19/20 years ago) these saddles were kind of new fangled, but they are probably the most popular saddles in Australia these days. A year or two after that I had my friend build me a custom Wade saddle (also among my photos if you want t look at it) and it is the most comfortable thing I have ever sat in, has never hurt a horses back and you could probably do a day’s work in it without the cinch on it, it sits so well on a horses back. Frankly, in my honest opinion, nothing compares to a wade saddle. Back when I got it I got some pretty funny looks riding in it, and some pretty rude comments too, but they have caught on in Australia now and are becoming very popular these days, particularly among ringers (cowboys). The other saddle I have is a Charro saddle I built for myself on a wade tree that I use for training younger horses. My other two saddles tended to be a bit too big so I wanted something for the little ones, unfortunately the tree maker made the tree a bit too narrow so I want to sell it and build another one. So basically the half-breed saddle is probably the most popular these days, with things like Wade saddles creeping up in popularity.