Which Western Saddle?
I've been considering getting into western disceplines and recently I was looking though catalogs and over the internet at various saddle companies. I thought to myself "Well, I want to do all sorts of things with that western saddle- is there such a thing as an all purpose western saddle?"
And then I discovered THERE ARE A MILLION TYPES OF WESTERN SADDLES and apparently a good old all 'rounder doesnt exist.
If I wanted to do some reining, barrel racing, trail riding, western pleasure/horsemanship, trail classes, and some western gaming events what sort of saddle would be best? Every time I saw the word "All Around" it linked me to a trail saddle. Arent a trail saddles skirts too large for things like barrel racing? *exasperated sigh* Whats the real difference between all the types of western saddles? Do the differences matter that much? Do I NEED a ton of silver for western pleasure? (I'm not a huge fan of excessive amounts of silver. A little bit of silver? Classy. Some of those saddles that look like they're more silver than leather? A little overzealous in my opinion.) Can I get by with just a little accent silver here and there, tastefully done? Would it be possible to do western pleasure with no silver at all or are the judges just going to pass me right by? Can I compete in trail classes/barrels/reining with silver on my saddle or will I look silly?
Well, it should be easy enough to find a "beater" secondhand barrel saddle for cheap to use in the contest classes and maybe also out on the trail. People like glam, but in the end, it's your time that wins the contest classes.
Then put the real money into a saddle that's suitable for WP and reining. Reining saddles and horsemanship saddles might be two different things. For reining you want your fenders to swing forward freely and your feet out in front. If you try to use a reining saddle for equitation, you might not be able to keep your leg back where it ought to be for good equitation position. For smaller shows, what some people do is get a roughout or roughout/basket stamp trainer saddle with some silver on it, like a Bandolero or a Steve Flick. Or maybe a top Billy Royal. Light oil is still the color you want for WP, and reining has leeway, so go light oil to be safe. I've heard rumors that there is going to be less silver on show saddles b/c of cost. So it just needs a little bling rather than cover it up.
I'm primarily an English rider, so I'm not the best person to advise you.
Really, if you're competing at a high enough level to have the design of the saddle matter, you'll probably be looking for a specialized saddle anyway. For example, if you're barrel racing at the level where differences of tenths of seconds decide between the first 5 places, maybe a minimally restrictive saddle would make a difference. Otherwise, probably no "need" for it.
I agree with Tack Collector about the light oil. WP is about the only thing I know that's that picky (at least right now, styles change :wink:), really all other western disciplines have minimal preferences, and in games the saddle doesn't matter at all.
You might even find a light oil trail saddle, for example: Sunset Trail Saddle - Statelinetack.com and order this: 14 PC. SILVER TRIM SET - Statelinetack.com
If you have a saddle-repair shop near you, you can have the glitz that you want added how you want. I know several people who bought good, affordable saddles and made them very show-worthy with kits like this and a trip to the Amish.
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