Barrel saddle for trail riding and cow work?
 
 

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Barrel saddle for trail riding and cow work?

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    09-06-2011, 06:10 PM
  #1
Foal
Barrel saddle for trail riding and cow work?

Hi all,

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!
     
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    09-07-2011, 09:01 AM
  #2
Foal
I think the trail saddle will be a better option for what you do. Most barrel saddles (the good ones anyway) have the stirrups set more forward to help keep the leg from swinging back while barrel racing. It makes it harder for your leg to just "hang down" like you would probably like while trail riding.
Good luck saddle shopping! There are so many choices out there aren't there??? I have been looking for another saddle and my mind just gets all boggled down with the choices.
     
    09-07-2011, 09:29 AM
  #3
Showing
Are you sure you're not putting more weight in one stirrup as you ride? This is common and that is why one hears the term "balanced riding". If you take your feet out of the stirrups you will quickly learn if your pelvis is centered over the horse. One way to tell if you are unbalanced is when circling in one direction you feel like your saddle is slipping to the outside yet it's fine the other way. If you are balanced then you will need to take your saddle with you when shopping so you don't buy the same tree.
     
    09-07-2011, 02:06 PM
  #4
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by StreakersCowgurl    
I think the trail saddle will be a better option for what you do. Most barrel saddles (the good ones anyway) have the stirrups set more forward to help keep the leg from swinging back while barrel racing. It makes it harder for your leg to just "hang down" like you would probably like while trail riding.
Good luck saddle shopping! There are so many choices out there aren't there??? I have been looking for another saddle and my mind just gets all boggled down with the choices.
Thanks for your thoughts! I'm leaning toward the trail option as well. The amount of choice is overwhelming--and everyone has an opinion. ;) I'm lucky to have a lot of knowledgeable saddle people around me, but I'll ultimately still have to make the decision. Too many choices!
     
    09-07-2011, 02:10 PM
  #5
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saddlebag    
Are you sure you're not putting more weight in one stirrup as you ride? This is common and that is why one hears the term "balanced riding". If you take your feet out of the stirrups you will quickly learn if your pelvis is centered over the horse. One way to tell if you are unbalanced is when circling in one direction you feel like your saddle is slipping to the outside yet it's fine the other way. If you are balanced then you will need to take your saddle with you when shopping so you don't buy the same tree.
Good point, but nope--not a balance issue. A friend of mine is a saddle-fitter and I had her look at my current saddle. She noticed the tree is actually slightly lopsided. It's almost negligible unless you're really looking for it, and I hadn't been looking for any problems with my current saddle until my trainer suggested checking equipment to try and sort out the loping issues my horse and I are having We confirmed with a Port Lewis impression pad (my friend a certified fitter).

I wish I were the problem instead of the saddle--that would make for a cheaper solution! :)
     
    09-07-2011, 02:24 PM
  #6
Started
Love trail riding in a barrel saddle :) Most of my friends use them...
     
    09-07-2011, 02:38 PM
  #7
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by WickedNag    
Love trail riding in a barrel saddle :) Most of my friends use them...
Have you found any downsides? How long are the trail rides you go on?

Thanks!
     
    09-07-2011, 02:52 PM
  #8
Trained
I don't actually barrel race, but I have a barrel saddle because I prefer them.

One plus I've found fantastic: Since the horn is meant be used while racing, it makes an awesome "Oh crap!" handle during a giant spook or a quick turn.
     
    09-07-2011, 02:56 PM
  #9
Trained
I use my Hereford barrel saddle for everything. I did an endurance ride in it. Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous! Comfortable, and I feel so much more secure and seated when my horse decides to do something stupid.
     
    09-07-2011, 04:21 PM
  #10
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fancy14    
Have you found any downsides? How long are the trail rides you go on?

Thanks!

No I haven't found any downsides. I have been on 8 hours a day for three days and less. Guess if you ride more than that you will need to get more opinions

I love the way a barrel saddle holds you in. Has a high enough cantle and they are just plain comfortable to me. They do have a forward swing but that is a great thing for hills. But the keyword here is swing. They are not permanently forward. Or at least mine aren't. I ride a Cowboy Tack saddle (no longer made so very hard to come by) and my daughter rides in a Double J Lynn McKenzie Special.

Hope that helps :)
     

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