Decker or Crossbuck pack saddles? - Page 6

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Decker or Crossbuck pack saddles?

This is a discussion on Decker or Crossbuck pack saddles? within the Trail Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category

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    02-05-2013, 10:54 AM
I ride an old Bramma bought it 15 yrs ago for $100 I must have a least 6 to 7000 miles in it. It is not pretty but it fits my butt....and that's all that counts at the end of a 30 mile day.
Painted Horse and thenrie like this.
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    02-05-2013, 11:04 AM
If you can, You should sit in the saddle and see how it fits you before you buy it. Each saddle is made different and will fit differently. Go to a saddle shop and just try sitting in different makes.

Saddles don't fit every horse. So the same is true for fitting the saddle to the horse.

You will also want to try the slick seat, suede leather seat and some of the padded seats. I prefer a slick seat, easier to maintain, just wipe it off. The suede and padded seats can asorb more water in rain and snow storms. Suede seat is more grippy, to help keep you in the seat. But on an all day ride, I prefer to have a little less friction in the seat. You will have your own preferences.

If you buy a good quality saddle, it will last your lifetime and be passed down to your kids. I have not looked at saddles in years, But Crates, Colorado Saddlery were both good products in production built western saddles. I had my saddle custom built by an old saddle maker. At the time 12 years ago it was $1200. He now charges $3000 to start for any of his work. He has several saddles now in the Smithstonian on display. Mine is just a simple functional saddle, built on a Hercules rawhide wrapped wood tree. Which you can no longer buy.

Colorado Saddlery is a work project at the Colorado prison. Saddles were made by inmates learning a trade. I don't know if that is still true or not.
    02-05-2013, 12:50 PM
Originally Posted by Painted Horse    
Colorado Saddlery is a work project at the Colorado prison. Saddles were made by inmates learning a trade. I don't know if that is still true or not.
Now there's something I didn't know. My dad used to have a CS dealership while we were living in North Carolina many years ago. He bought himself and my mother a pair of CS saddles with matching tooling. Hers was a 15" roper and his was a 16" cutter. He still rides his today. They are built on synthetic trees, but are good saddles.

As for fitting your saddle to the horse, that is very important, not only for the horse's comfort, but for your safety. Some horses will eventually become hard to handle and may even learn to buck due to ill-fitting saddles. However, in my opinion, it is a lot less technical than some folks like to make it out to be.

In general, there are three basic saddle trees that will fit about 99% of all horses. The semi-Quarter Horse tree has a fork that is cut at about 88-89*, making the bars a little narrow in the gullet, to fit horses with extra tall withers or narrow build, such as some Tennessee Walkers and Thoroughbreds. The regular QH tree is normally cut at about 90*, and will fit about 90* of all horses reasonably well, particularly Quarter Horses. The full-QH tree is cut to about 91-92* and fits those horses with low withers or a broad build, short of a draft horse.

Another consideration is the length of the horse's back in relation to the length of the saddle's bars. A short-backed horse, like an Arab would likely get uncomfortable wearing a western saddle with a 17" seat and 23" bars. The tail end of the bars would be digging into his loin area as he moved. My dad has a small QH with that problem and we didn't figure out for years why he bucked at anything above a walk. Then again, I once had a Half-Arab the same size that had no problem with my 15" Simco.

You also have to pay attention to the gullet height. Roping saddles in the 70s-80s started being built with very low gullets to get the saddle closer to the horse. If you don't fit one of those right, the gullet may hit the horse's withers when you ride, and that can become a problem in a hurry. You need to have at least 2" clearance there with the saddle sitting on the horse without a pad, or you may end up with contact once it is cinched and weight is in the saddle. If you run into that, you can mitigate it somewhat by using two saddle pads, but that's not ideal.

There are oddities in horses that might make saddle fitting more difficult for some, just like there are people with physical oddities that make fitting clothes difficult, but the three main trees will fit about 99% of the horses out there. You should also be aware that the saddle that fits a three year-old ranch horse probably won't fit him when he's 20 and out to pasture. Just like people, their shape changes over time and according to their conditioning.

When looking at saddles (and it can be different for different makers), in general a tree with semi-QH bars will measure about 6" across the front, under the gullet from side-to-side about where the conchos are. It is essentially where the saddle bars meet the front of the fork. Regular QH bars will measure about 6.5" and Full QH bars about 7". And, like I said before, measurements are a little different for different tree makers. Some of the antique saddles will measure 5-5.5" in the gullet and will be cut at even narrower angles than the semi-QH tree. I attached a couple pictures to help.

Hmm. As I measured my old Hamley, it's a 15" seat, not a 14" like I always thought. How about that? You can also see that it has about a 5.25-5.5" gullet width. A bit too narrow for most modern QHs.

Well, that was a mouthful. Sorry so long-winded.
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File Type: jpg 2013-02-05 11.38.22.jpg (53.2 KB, 80 views)
Jim Andy likes this.
    02-05-2013, 02:50 PM
Thenrie; See this is why I ask my question here when you want to know something go to the ones you know has the right info,and you respect what they have to say.
That means I have a great deal of respect for what you and Painted Horse and others have to say Thanks gentlemen.
    02-05-2013, 02:56 PM
Roping & Rodeo type saddles usually have a much lower cantle on them, So that the roper can get "out" of the saddle faster if they need to tie the calf or bulldog.

Us trail riders, often prefer a higher or taller cantle. It offers a little more support to help keep you in the saddle as your horse climbs hills, and gives you a place to tie coat, rain slickers etc during your ride.

Same goes for the pommel area. A man doing steer wrestling wants to come out of that saddle quick and easy, So he doesn't want bucking rolls or large pommel. A bronc rider working rough stock wants that bucking rolls to lock his knees under to help hang on. You will need to look at the kind of horses you ride and what security you like to have when in the saddle. You will notice saddles built for Cutting, Reining, Roping, Ranch work, barrel racing, endurance and trail riding. Each focuses on small features that adapts them to sport you might pursue.

I prefer a more traditional western look. I'm pretty good sized guy, So I want to spread my weight out over my horses back, I want some skirts to protect the horse and what I tie on. I don't rope or do any rodeo type sports, So I'm not worried how strong my trees are necessarily, But I have had horses go down and roll with a saddle on. So I appreciate a strong tree. This saddle was custom built for me, it is a 16" on a rawhide wrapped wood tree.

I don't carry a lariat, But I do use the leather thong to hold my lead rope when I'm in the back country.

My daughters on the other hand, Like the lighter saddles, and Often prefer a padded seat or a wool seat liner. I've got a western cut endurance saddle that only weighs in at 22 lbs, very small skirts and build on a Ralide tree. And of course the girl put a sheep skin seat cover on it.

I multi-task my equipment., We may ride a horse today, throw panniers over the saddle tomorrow and use it to pack or even shoot a deer and button hole it over the saddle horn on another day. I lean toward the heavier western saddles with good skirts.

thenrie and Jim Andy like this.
    02-05-2013, 04:32 PM
Great post, awesome pictures, and very nice saddle!
    02-05-2013, 10:46 PM
Thanks Tony, It's taken a beating over the years. Unlike some neighbors of mine who won't take their nice saddles out for trail ride. Mine has been rained on, snowed on. Thrown over a log at night, hauled deer and elk.

I would like to build a saddle one day, Need to figure out where to start and get the process started.
Jim Andy likes this.
    02-05-2013, 11:25 PM
Tony you and Painted horse I thought you might be interested in checking this out. This man has a 4 week school where you will build your own saddle.
    02-06-2013, 01:14 AM
Oops. Duplicate
    02-06-2013, 01:23 AM
Oh yeah. I've been looking at his site for more than a year, wondering whether I should take his saddlemaking course. I bought one of his books. I have decided that saddlemaking is not technically difficult, but it's the fine details and little tricks and artsy stuff that makes the difference between a good saddle and an excellent one. I think I'm just going to give it a go and see how it comes out.

I'm like Painted Horse. I have no need for a show saddle. I want one that will hold together if a horse falls on it.

Here are some other sites that might interest you:

Western Saddles - Frecker's Saddlery
Okanagan Saddlery
Old West Saddle Shop
D. R. Schrader Custom Saddles
Western Saddles - Used Western Saddle

There are plenty more! Have fun!

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