Western Saddle brands to avoid?
We are going to a 4-H consignment tack sale this weekend. I have a couple of things I'm looking for, but my husband suggested finding my daughter her own saddle that she could use now. She has one that is going to take a while to grow into (it's been in the family for 40 years so it's got sentimental value), but she is still using a lesson saddle each week. We know what size of seat to look for, and the width of the gullet we need to aim for, but I don't want to go and buy a cheaply made saddle. Are there any brands that are best to stay away from? If you don't mind telling me why, I'd appreciate that too. We have the tape measure in the purse already so I can measure them, and I have a used saddle buying guide printed out to pay attention to. We figured that since its a 4-H sale, our chances of finding a kid's sized saddle are better. She can continue to use the lesson saddle, but it's just an idea for now.
(We've tossed this idea at her instructor and based on the horses she would ride at the farm, our best bet is a FQHB saddle, so she said 6.5-7" gullet).
So, what brands should we avoid considering, and why? (Remember, I'm asking because I want to learn, so the more info you provide the better.) Her instructor also said that if we do get one, and she outgrows it, she will buy it off of us, because she always needs intermediate sized saddles. She has an abundance of adult sized, and small youth, but just a couple in between.
Actually it would be easier to say which brands to look for rather then avoid since there are so many off brands and "made for " saddles out there. What I would look for are, TexTan (Herford), Circle Y, Long Horn, an older Simco, Dakota, Rocking R, Billy Cook (the better ones are made in OK not TX), American Saddlery - I'm sure others will add more names to look for.
Avoid: Buffalo, Double T, any saddle made in Asia or Mexico.
As for gullet size, 6 1/2 - 7 covers semi QH, regular QH, and FQH bars. A FQH bar is going to be at least 7" and made to fit a more mutton withered horse.
My Corriente is a 7" FQH bar Wade tree saddle and it is too wide for my 15.2h 1050lb QH.
I agree with iridehorses as far as brands to look for, and would also like to at Crates and (older) billy cooks. The older tex tans, crates, and circle ys generally have better quality leather than a lot of the newer ones they are making.
Stay away from: King Series, Royal King, Silver King, Double T, Circle S, Showman and Buffalo.
Basically any New Saddle that does not have the Manufactures Name on it is not worth having.
Now, some older saddles from the 70's and 80's may not have a name on it and that is not always bad, there are some great no name brands that old.
What about synthetic or cordura saddles. My husband has it in his head that she would be better off with one of those. I'm partial to the leather, but figured I'd ask anyway. I imagine the life expectancy isn't as good.
On a side note, the saddle maker I mentioned above has some really inexpensive factory saddles at his shop and I am considering going back in there to look. I kind of want the brands to avoid when I go in there because I'll know if they're a good deal or not. He said for her he could get her a saddle (new) for $250 which is a bit fishy to me. He's an 80+ year old man, and has been around for a long time, and comes highly recommended for repairs and custom saddles, but I can't help but wonder if the factory saddles he carries are crappy brands or not. Of course I can't remember any of the brand names...Circle J maybe?
Cordura or Synthetic Saddles that you may find in his shop that are good Names:
Those are the only ones that someone usually stocks in a Store that would be good.
There might be another brand or two of Private American Made that are out there, but not too many people make Synthetics.
We have some 15 year old Abetta's that have help up very well, They are about 300.00 when new and I have seen some Bighorn that old too that are in that price range when new.
Please don't slam me, but why should folks stay away from Buffalo?
Is anyone willing to tell me why the DON'T recommend a particular brand? I'm not trying to turn this into a brand slamming thread, but I'm curious if you have had bad experience with some of these brands. Ideally, a saddle is something that should last for quite some time, so if I do end up buying one, I want it to be good. Plus, I like learning these things.
Buffalo is a very poorly made imported saddle with a cheap tree and leather like cardboard. Every one that I've seen - and that has been many - have very little padding in the seat and had very stiff leather. Personally, I would rather ride bareback.
They are made to sell on ebay or at auctions in the $300 range. I've never seen a tack shop or feed store that sold them in their store.
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