First time posting here. I'd love to get some opinions on using barrel saddles for activities other than barrel racing.
I'm in the market for a new saddle for my horse. We mainly trail ride and attend working cow and natural horsemanship clinics. I don't have opportunities to ride a great deal--my horse is actually 6 hours away from where I live, so I drive a lot to ride at least one weekend a month in spring and summer, or will sometimes stay with her for a few weeks at a time to ride in the summer as well. (We manage quite well given the circumstances. She just turned 10 and was started in 2005, and I've been working with her since 2008--we have a very patient relationship. :) )
The make of my current saddle is a bit of a mystery. I bought the saddle used, and the only identifier on it indicates it may be American Saddlery or Circle A (which I've never heard of). It seemed to fit her well at first, but as we've become more advanced, we discovered the saddle was pinching her right shoulder when we worked on loping exercises.
I've been looking at a variety of saddles to try out on her in the near future. A few people have recommended I get a barrel saddle since they're cut specifically for women. I sat in one (in a store, not on my horse), and did like the fit, but worry about it setting me too far forward, which could get uncomfortable for long rides such as 4-6 hour trail rides. This particular saddle also had suede fenders, which, while they keep me in the seat nicely, I worry about in rainy conditions.
Another saddle I'm looking at rather seriously is a new Billy Cook 1784 trail saddle that's been modified to have a ladies seat, and has had the stirrups set forward slightly to help with stops during cow work.
If anyone has thoughts to share on the above, I'd appreciate your input. Thanks!