Buying a saddle? ANY ADVICE?
So, after much deliberation and examination, it appears my poor old garage sale-hand-me-down saddle has finally given up the ghost. A certain 11 year old girl chucked it out of the shed during the snow last winter..it got burried and that didnt help the situation when to my suprise I discovered it in the spring thaw :\
It's sort of usuable, but it's condition is headed south :( The horn was all chewed up even before I got it, and its pretty worn out. It's had a long life, and now Emily needs to find a new saddle.
I put an ad on Craigslist (of course--I find everything from my truck to my goat on there. Love that site), but am also perusing eBay. I need something to ride Lakota with.
To be very honest...I've never bought a saddle before. My dad got me one when I was a little kid, and it fit perfect till my butt got too big at like 15. I've never picked out my own.
eBay, as always, seems to have some deals, but now I'm wondering HOW DO I KNOW WHAT SIZE TO GET? I don't think my butt is huge, but I read a bunch of sizing guides on the internet, and they said for a western saddle an average adult rides in a 15".
What about english? I've never ridden english, but Lakota was trained english as well as western and someday that might be fun if I want to try to end up in a full body cast. :twisted: How much more difficult is english than western? How different is it (stupid question, I know, but I am curious).
And what about Aussie saddles? Anyone recommend them?
I need a western saddle for all around purposes, but maybe someday use for gaming (poles, barrels, goat tying)..Anyone have any advice or recommendations?
I think Australian Halfbreed saddles are pretty cool. They have the seat and pommels of an Australian Stock Saddle but the swinging fender of a Western Saddle. Also they do not have flocking (like Australian Stocks and english saddles) but instead sit on the back similarly to a Western Saddle.
I haven't really ridden Western, but from what I understand and English saddle is not as secure as the Western. The Western saddle seems to hold you in, where in the English its more like your perched on top, and your seat holds you on the horse.
English saddles are lighter, and if you get an all purpose you can do a bit of everything. There isn't any reason why you can't at least practice Western in it. I know I used to do mounted games and basic (unofficial) barrel racing in my dressage and all purpose. You can also jump easier in an English. English saddles usually need to be fitted. As the padding (flocking) is built into the saddle, it compacts and moves to fit a specific horse. When you buy a saddle you need to make sure the padding is suitable for the horses back.
I wouldn't think that English is much more difficult that Western. The saddle is less secure but if you have an established seat that shouldn't really be a problem.
Be careful of what saddles you buy. These days there are many poor quality saddles being sent over from Asia which are not really that safe for you and your horse. Trees are made out of weak materials, and things like tacks are used to hold it together, these can easily come out and hurt your horse.
I don't know many Western brands, but you are better of buying a secondhand good quality brand than a new dodgy one.
Go for good brand name saddles. You can get good used brand name saddles on ebay for under $500. You need to figure out how it will fit your horse. If you have a big bulky wide low withered QH a Full QH bar is needed. An average built horse will need SQHB. I prefer bighorn saddles and find them to be very comfortable and affordable. They make nice leather saddles that are sturdy and will stand up to long rides. They also make synthetic saddles that are easy to care for, funtional and comfortable. I prefer a good used leather saddle to a shiney new synthetic but its all about taste. They both get the job done.
If the size chart puts you at a 15" seat, that is pretty average and easy to find. Anything bigger than a 16 and you will need to look a little harder.
Here are some western saddle brands that you can look into or that are worth the money.
Simco, Tex-Tan, Circle Y, BigHorn.
Stay away from anything that doesn't carry a brand name. If they arent willing to put their name on the saddle, I am not willing to put my hiney in it.
horseclicks.com is another good site to buy used saddles.
Whatever you do, do not fall for the "affordable" "fancy" saddles on eBay and even Craigslist. These saddles that are selling for $200-500 new that have fancing leather tooling and "bling" are all made in Asia and will NOT hold up well. They often don't fit the horse very well either.
Your best bet is to find an older, used saddle in good shape that has a known quality brand name, like Circle Y, Herford, Big Horn, Textan, Billy Cook, etc. You want something that's American made and currently retails for over $800 (that you can verify on a good tack web site like Smith Bros, Schnieders, Broken Horn, etc.).
Most "fit" (slender) women over 5'4" ride in a 15" seat. If you're a size 6 or less and/or shorter than 5'4", you may like a 14" seat better. You won't know until you sit in one.
Most horses take Quarter Horse bars or Full QH bars for the tree size. If your horse is on the narrow side, you may need Semi-QH bars. Saddle fit for the horse is more important than the saddle fit for you ;-). If you're unsure of what size tree your horse needs, you might want to trailer him over to a tack shop and have them help you size him. Try on a bunch of saddles to find the tree size and type that fits him best.
In a western saddle, the seat size has nothing to do with the size of your backside. It actually correlates to the width of your thigh. I am an average sized woman (wear a size 10-12 in pants) and I can ride comfortably in most 16" westerns. A 15" is ok, but I prefer the little bit of extra room in a 16".
In an english saddle, seat size has more to do with the length of your leg from hip to knee. I am about 5'8" and I ride in a 17" or 17.5" english. Typically you go up 2 inches from whatever western seat size you ride in.
I would buy a saddle to fit your horse first, and then you second. Make sure you are getting the bar size that your horse needs. If you have a broad backed, low withered horse, chances are best that he will need a Full QH bar saddle. Narrower horses will need a semi or regular QH bars. Make sure the saddle isn't resting on his withers and not pinching or restricting the movement of his shoulder.
Don't get sucked into the "cheap" saddle thing. You're MUCH better off buying a used quality saddle than a brand new cheap one. Look for brands like Circle Y, Tucker, Billy Cook, Martin, Cactus, TexTan. Do some online research and read customer reviews.
Agree with what everyone has said. The saddles new from ebay are junk and ride like junk. Good used saddles owned by someone would be fine, but to be honest, unless you can put it on your horse and then plunk your butt down in it, you will not be happy.
I am 5'4" and weigh about 135 . I ride in a 15 Billy Cooke saddle , bought it used for $500 and it is in beautiful shape. Just look around, there are used saddles to be found, some may need a good leather cleaning, but you can tell a nicely made used saddle from a cheapo.
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