I am an english rider and have done eventing for many years, but I have slowed down and I have decided to switch over to western for trail riding and pleasure. I know everything there is to know about english tack, but I don't know the first thing about western. I am looking for a saddle that would be comfortable on long trail rides, steep terrain, etc, that is relatively lightweight, and that will last me several years. Unlike english saddles, I have NO CLUE what to look for in a western saddle. Any advice on brand names, where to buy, what to look for, etc.? I'm not looking to spend thousands of dollars on a saddle, I just want something functional that will work and last. Thanks!!!
personally i love barrel saddles. They seem to be great kinda "every thing" saddle. They are very light! and still have a pretty good seat....
What is your price range and does it need to be new or used; synthetic or leather?
Thanks for the advice!
I'm thinking to spend $500-$900. I might spend more or less depending on the deal, but I want to make sure I'm getting a good deal. I know I could never buy a decent english saddle for under $500, is it the same for western?
I don't really care if its new or used, but if it was used I would definitely want a good quality brand name. I'm leaning toward leather. I've never ridden in a synthetic english saddle that I liked, so I am partial to leather saddles.
I have another question, I found this saddle ---> Tackwholesale.com : Quality Tack & Equestrian Supplies : Tahoe Roping Saddle [61-2211]
That *seems* like a functional saddle. It says that the retail value is $1125 but the "closeout" price is $179. Is this a scam? I don't know enough to be able to tell the quality of a western saddle from the picture. Thanks!!!
I have a custom made Wade saddle that I've had for over 12 years and love it but my everyday saddle is a Dakota brand that I bought new with options that I specified for ~$850. You can get a new trail/ranch style one for ~$650.
Some good "off the shelf" saddle brands to look for would be Circle Y, Dakota, Rocking R, TexTan, and Billy Cook (made in OK not TX). A nice synthetic, and IMO, one of the very best made is a Fabtron and will run ~$500 new.
I have a Silver Royal that I LOVE. It's lasted me a long time and is fairly light (barrel saddle). I think they are fairly affordable too...
If your wanting to trail ride, I would suggest an endurance type saddle without a horn. If your going to be riding on steep terrain the horn has a tendency to get in the way. You don't really need one when trail riding except to hang stuff on anyway. Most endurance saddles have a nice pommel to grab onto (which you should use instead of the horn anyway) and they usually have comfy seats for the long ride. If I had to buy another saddle I would look into a Tucker endurance model Tucker Saddles - Trail saddles and Bridle Supplies.
They are expensive, so look for a used one. There are a lot of Tucker knock offs I would stay clear of.
A synthetic might be a good idea, if you want to keep costs down. Abetta, Fabtron, and Big Horn synthetics are all quality USA made saddles.
If you don't mind spending a little, then I'd recommend a Bob Marshall trail or endurance saddle (treeless, you need a specialized Skito pad, no horn on the endurance model), or a Circle Y trail saddle (any of their models are nice), or ... ? There are a lot of good brands out there, you just have to pick the one that fits your horse and fits your needs best.
You want something that is made in the USA, preferably a recognizable brand, or from a company that has a reasonable trial or return policy. If it has a regular tree (not a flex tree) you want ralid or HARDwood. Stay AWAY from fiberglass or fiberflex trees. They are a sign of a low quality saddle.
You can find many good saddles used. If you're on a budget and want a leather saddle, used is the way to go. Don't pass over OLD vintage saddles either. Those oldies are often great finds.
You want a saddle 1.5-2" smaller than your English measurement. Most women take 14.5-15.5" seat size. If you have an ample rear, then a 16-17" seat might be best. I take an 18.5-19" English saddle and I like 17" western saddle. My husband takes an 18" English and he likes 16-16.5" saddles.
The type of seat will also effect the size you need. If it's over padded (like Tuckers), then you'll need to go up a size or size and a half. I take an 18.5" in Tuckers. If the seat is flat, like a cutting saddle, you might be able to fit in a smaller size. If the seat is really sloped in the front, with a deep "pocket" for your rear, you might need a bit bigger saddle. The best way to decide is to sit or ride in a few different types of saddle and see which one you like best.
The tree size goes by the "bar" angle/type. If your horse takes a Medium or Regular English saddle, then Semi-QH bars are probably the way to go. If your horse takes a medium-wide to wide tree then QH or Full QH bars might be best. If your horse takes a wide to x-wide tree, then Full QH bars are likely a good fit. Again, you need to try the saddle(s) on your horse to find out. Just like English saddles, most western saddle manufacturers will vary in how they make their trees. Generally, once you find a brand and size that fits you both, you should be able to stick with that brand, usually, lol.
Good luck saddle shopping! If you can let us know which seat and tree size you think you need, we can look around and give you some suggestions.
Billy Cooks hold their value look for saddle from Oklahoma the Texas ones are not made by Billy Cook any more but still carry the name
Dakotas aer nice mid range saddles but they don't hold thier value as well
This seller is on another forum with me and has a great rep there you can also custom design your own dakota with him takes about 8 to 12 weeks to get it and he can send you templates for getting the right size tree!!
Reinsman are AMAZING but good luck finding one used
The OLDER Cirlce Y's are nice the new ones are cheaply made
Crates are nice saddles that hold their value well with super soft leather
Here this is a better link then the one above
Western Trail and Pleasure Saddles from Tack South
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