I have made Arabian show saddles in the past, and since I've retired, thinking about getting back into it. I used to use a saddle that was marketed as the "Lite Rider" in 1964/66. They were a molded fibreglass form in both western and English, but with a soft fuzzy fabric on top, and a saddle pad below. They sold for about $49, and were, probably, more of a glorofied saddle pad, but with enough firmness to get your legs around to hold on.
These were GREAT for the market I was aiming for: casual Arabian costuming at shows. They were lightweight and almost like riding bareback. I made authentic styled bedouin saddles with lots of wool, shells, authentic beading, rugs and tassles. They were very showy even without all the glitz and glamour these divisions turned into. Our saddles could be taken off the horse, and you could sleep on them, then saddle up next morning and off you went (with a good shake, of course).
These saddles were great out on the trail, as we tested them quite a bit before selling any.
I would love to find out if anyone has any of these laying around, unused. Or if there is a company today that makes something similar and reasonably priced. Back then, they came in red and black, and the English version was dark brown.
You could find their ads in the horse magazines of the time. If anyone has old zines from back then and sees an ad, I would love to have a copy (either the ad or a good xerox) of it for research purposes.
Any help gratefully appreciated! Thanks!
Rita (I'll post some pix to my profile in coming weeks)