Different Types of Western Saddles? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 20 Old 02-13-2020, 10:18 AM
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Also, I know the question has been thoroughly answered, but overkill is underrated.



Here's a rundown on the different types at horse.com


And here's one at Horse Saddle Shop.com


I dunno about English saddles, but I think the variety in Western is far greater. I've overheard English riders at Paul Taylor's in Pilot Point, TX talking among themselves as they looked at the saddles and western tack and marveling at how much more there is and my goodness how does anyone know what to use/why is there this much tack/so many saddle options.


Again, I could be wrong, but it seems like western riding has an overwhelming amount of options in terms of different kinds of saddles and tack... and then you pile on the tooling, the conchos, the colors... there's something for everyone, and for every western discipline.
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post #12 of 20 Old 02-13-2020, 05:58 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info! It seems understanding the individual components and looking for a saddle that has the ones that work for you is more the way to go rather than just trying to pick a "type" that's supposed to do a specific thing. Which is also why I wanted to know about the "building blocks" of the saddles as opposed to general type--which is usually vague and doesn't actually say much.



I don't think I'd like a barrel saddle from what I understand. They don't look comfortable for me, personally. And most models I've seen don't appear to have much room for my behind. But different strokes for different folks. I hate saddles that feel like they "hug" you but some people like that.



The fact there isn't a standard across all makes is a bit of pain though, it means we all have to play detective. English saddle make IS a lot simpler but you can't really slap a bunch of gear on to a close contact and ride off into the sunset now can you (I mean...I guess you could if you really wanted to but I wouldn't recommend it unless you're jumping gates instead of opening them).
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post #13 of 20 Old 02-13-2020, 06:40 PM
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@marymane you might get along fine with an old style cutter board.
I love them and rode them for years. When I loped cutters I rode one all day on multiple horses, started colts in them, ran barrels in a shorter seated version, and on days at work when I didn't think I'd have to rope, I'd ride it for that too.

Some friends and I were just discussing last weekend the versatility and cheapness of an older Billy Cook cutter. One friend's laughed about some awesome bronc rides he had put on in one yet you can still find them used for a good price if you keep your eyes out.

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post #14 of 20 Old 02-13-2020, 07:04 PM
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Hay, Cowchick, yeah, I have been really busy for the last couple of years, so have only lurked occasionally. Unfortunately, none of my busyness has involved horses (all university stuff). I should get back into to the forum a bit more, be a bit of a smart-a*@, make an idiot of myself and try to amuse people other than myself (and annoy the crud out of people other than my wife, dangerous business that).

Marymane, in terms of deciding which western saddle one might choose, the way I’d think of it is firstly think of the kind of riding you want to do.

It appears to me that one of the reasons for so many variations of western saddle is to do with the fact that there seems to be a ridiculous number of different competitive disciplines and each one seems to think that they need a saddle specifically designed for their discipline. What I suspect then is that whatever saddle design they come up with would be ok for that, but would it be OK if you were planning on spending 5 to 15 hours in the saddle.

To give a personal example, I used to work on cattle stations in Australia, I’d routinely spend days in the saddle. A relative of mine was a cutting horse guy, long since retired from competition. He had an old Buster Welsh cutting saddle that I had my eye on to strip apart and rebuild on the tree using the old leather as a pattern. I did a day’s work in that thing and it was the most uncomfortable days work I had since refusing to ride in Australian Stock saddles, in my opinion terrible saddles (sorry BSMS, I know you like them). It had a long flat seat, fenders seemed to be slung too far forward, really low cantle that didn’t seem to make the seat any better and a useless horn if you wanted to do anything more than hang onto the thing (which I refuse to do on basic principle, I’d rather fall off than hang onto the horn). The only thing I ended up liking about the thing was the ox bow stirrups.

The next day I worked in my wade, for me literally the most comfortable thing I have ever sat in. I have done a number of 18ish hour days in that thing, been exhausted getting of the horse, who would be exhausted too, but nether of us were sore from it. Mind you, I have also done some big days riding in my little brother’s wade, its too small for me, and that was a reasonably painful experience too, so the saddle also needs to fit you.

So, think about it this way, are you planning to spend hours in the saddle, long trail rides? Work? Or just an hour at a time? Or are you doing a competitive thing that needs specific requirements in a saddle? If one’s riding for an hour at a time, probably wouldn’t matter an enormous amount on the style of saddle, but if you want to be in it for a long time, I’d look for saddles designed for that.

“Ranch saddles” would probably be my go-to in that instance, Wade (my personal choice) Low Association (my second choice for a general work saddle) Visalia (I think are beautiful saddles from looking at them, never rode one). In the very near future I plan to start getting back into starting horses and selling them, so I’ll need something for that (I did build a charro saddle on a wade tree for that but have since changed my mind and want something else), I was thinking of maybe a Bear Trap but now I’m leaning very close to a Low Moose (as I get older the ground looks further and further away and a lot harder than it used to be from atop a horse, I want every advantage I can get if a horse lights up but I still want to actually be able to eject if need be, hard to do in a Bear Trap). But it would need to be a Low Moose with a seat and horn that are good for a day’s work too.

So generally, the range of western saddles as far as I can see is about competition, and for general riding probably the so called ranch saddles are best, the kind a cowboy might ride in for days on end would be the ones suited to most people’s riding in my opinion. They might not need to rope anything, but a seat designed for maximum comfort on long rides is really what they would want. They should all be designed for maximum comfort for the horse.
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post #15 of 20 Old 02-13-2020, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnrewPL View Post
Hay, Cowchick, yeah, I have been really busy for the last couple of years, so have only lurked occasionally. Unfortunately, none of my busyness has involved horses (all university stuff). I should get back into to the forum a bit more, be a bit of a smart-a*@, make an idiot of myself and try to amuse people other than myself (and annoy the crud out of people other than my wife, dangerous business that).

Marymane, in terms of deciding which western saddle one might choose, the way I’d think of it is firstly think of the kind of riding you want to do.

It appears to me that one of the reasons for so many variations of western saddle is to do with the fact that there seems to be a ridiculous number of different competitive disciplines and each one seems to think that they need a saddle specifically designed for their discipline. What I suspect then is that whatever saddle design they come up with would be ok for that, but would it be OK if you were planning on spending 5 to 15 hours in the saddle.

To give a personal example, I used to work on cattle stations in Australia, I’d routinely spend days in the saddle. A relative of mine was a cutting horse guy, long since retired from competition. He had an old Buster Welsh cutting saddle that I had my eye on to strip apart and rebuild on the tree using the old leather as a pattern. I did a day’s work in that thing and it was the most uncomfortable days work I had since refusing to ride in Australian Stock saddles, in my opinion terrible saddles (sorry BSMS, I know you like them). It had a long flat seat, fenders seemed to be slung too far forward, really low cantle that didn’t seem to make the seat any better and a useless horn if you wanted to do anything more than hang onto the thing (which I refuse to do on basic principle, I’d rather fall off than hang onto the horn). The only thing I ended up liking about the thing was the ox bow stirrups.

The next day I worked in my wade, for me literally the most comfortable thing I have ever sat in. I have done a number of 18ish hour days in that thing, been exhausted getting of the horse, who would be exhausted too, but nether of us were sore from it. Mind you, I have also done some big days riding in my little brother’s wade, its too small for me, and that was a reasonably painful experience too, so the saddle also needs to fit you.

So, think about it this way, are you planning to spend hours in the saddle, long trail rides? Work? Or just an hour at a time? Or are you doing a competitive thing that needs specific requirements in a saddle? If one’s riding for an hour at a time, probably wouldn’t matter an enormous amount on the style of saddle, but if you want to be in it for a long time, I’d look for saddles designed for that.

“Ranch saddles” would probably be my go-to in that instance, Wade (my personal choice) Low Association (my second choice for a general work saddle) Visalia (I think are beautiful saddles from looking at them, never rode one). In the very near future I plan to start getting back into starting horses and selling them, so I’ll need something for that (I did build a charro saddle on a wade tree for that but have since changed my mind and want something else), I was thinking of maybe a Bear Trap but now I’m leaning very close to a Low Moose (as I get older the ground looks further and further away and a lot harder than it used to be from atop a horse, I want every advantage I can get if a horse lights up but I still want to actually be able to eject if need be, hard to do in a Bear Trap). But it would need to be a Low Moose with a seat and horn that are good for a day’s work too.

So generally, the range of western saddles as far as I can see is about competition, and for general riding probably the so called ranch saddles are best, the kind a cowboy might ride in for days on end would be the ones suited to most people’s riding in my opinion. They might not need to rope anything, but a seat designed for maximum comfort on long rides is really what they would want. They should all be designed for maximum comfort for the horse.

So far I think when I do shop seriously for one I might go for a more ranch type saddle. They seem the most versatile (most of the actual "all purpose" designed saddles really just look like pleasure saddles except maybe with a flatter seat so I'm not really sold on those). And yeah, I would be spending more than a few hours in the saddle. I'd mostly be doing trails but I don't just like to go for a short course around someone's property--I like really going out. I don't like most trail saddle types though because I don't like how many of them have the super soft leather that seems really easy to scratch and wear and the seats are too padded and seem way too far off the horse and just uncomfortable for me. I know they're designed to be comfortable for the rider but it just usually doesn't work for me and they often don't seem designed to last through very heavy wear. They're like the types of seats in a lot of pleasure saddles and I dislike how they feel as I've sat in quite a few and it never feels quite right (incidentally, the saddle I do have is a handed down pleasure saddle and me that thing do not get along). Some people really get stuck on the weight but I wouldn't mind having a heavier saddle if it's hardier and more versatile and feels better to sit in.


I'm kind of a "I want to try everything at least once" type of person so a saddle that I can only really do one thing with isn't going to cut it.
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post #16 of 20 Old 02-13-2020, 08:33 PM
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I’d agree. I have never ridden in pleasure or trail saddles however from what they look like I myself would steer clear of them. In terms of padded seats, I don’t think it’s necessary in terms of making the seat more comfortable and can actually have drawbacks, such as you have noted, too much padding between you and the horse being one of the worst. Having said that, for the first two weeks of ridding when I get a chance to ride regularly, I do have a very VERY sore bum, as my saddles all have an unpadded hard seat. But after about 2 weeks it gets much better. And just a note on padded seats, my saddler friend always maintained that one of the drawbacks of them was that they tend to wear out faster than the rest of the saddle and so over time can actually make the saddle quite uncomfortable, something to think of I guess if you want to have the saddle for a few decades.

In terms of things like the dimensions of the saddle, usually you can adapt any stock saddle to the way you want if you get a custom saddle. I lean to a higher cantle, I like slick forks, and big post horns. I would say however, while a high cantle is AWESOME, the Charro I built has a 6-inch cantle and its magic, but the drawback is when you want to go down a steep hill it can dig into the small of your back. So, if you ride in mountainous country, I wouldn’t recommend something like a 6-inch cantle. If you want a little more security a swell fork might be better than a slick fork and if you are planning on no roping, and maybe what to grab the horn if you feel a little insecure I wouldn’t recommend a great big Guadalajara style horn. But if you got a custom wade, association, Visalia of about any type, or any other stock saddle, all of that can be negotiated with the saddler.

And Id say, if you can afford it, or have the patience, ALWAYS opt to save up and get a good custom-built saddle rather than one off the shelf. I got 2 and they have lasted some huge miles on a horse and both are now over 20 years old and are in mint condition (but then I always looked after them too).
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post #17 of 20 Old 02-14-2020, 01:05 PM
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Very informative topic!
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post #18 of 20 Old 02-14-2020, 01:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnrewPL View Post
Hay, Cowchick, yeah, I have been really busy for the last couple of years, so have only lurked occasionally. Unfortunately, none of my busyness has involved horses (all university stuff). I should get back into to the forum a bit more, be a bit of a smart-a*@, make an idiot of myself and try to amuse people other than myself (and annoy the crud out of people other than my wife, dangerous business that).

Marymane, in terms of deciding which western saddle one might choose, the way I’d think of it is firstly think of the kind of riding you want to do.

It appears to me that one of the reasons for so many variations of western saddle is to do with the fact that there seems to be a ridiculous number of different competitive disciplines and each one seems to think that they need a saddle specifically designed for their discipline. What I suspect then is that whatever saddle design they come up with would be ok for that, but would it be OK if you were planning on spending 5 to 15 hours in the saddle.

To give a personal example, I used to work on cattle stations in Australia, I’d routinely spend days in the saddle. A relative of mine was a cutting horse guy, long since retired from competition. He had an old Buster Welsh cutting saddle that I had my eye on to strip apart and rebuild on the tree using the old leather as a pattern. I did a day’s work in that thing and it was the most uncomfortable days work I had since refusing to ride in Australian Stock saddles, in my opinion terrible saddles (sorry BSMS, I know you like them). It had a long flat seat, fenders seemed to be slung too far forward, really low cantle that didn’t seem to make the seat any better and a useless horn if you wanted to do anything more than hang onto the thing (which I refuse to do on basic principle, I’d rather fall off than hang onto the horn). The only thing I ended up liking about the thing was the ox bow stirrups.

The next day I worked in my wade, for me literally the most comfortable thing I have ever sat in. I have done a number of 18ish hour days in that thing, been exhausted getting of the horse, who would be exhausted too, but nether of us were sore from it. Mind you, I have also done some big days riding in my little brother’s wade, its too small for me, and that was a reasonably painful experience too, so the saddle also needs to fit you.

So, think about it this way, are you planning to spend hours in the saddle, long trail rides? Work? Or just an hour at a time? Or are you doing a competitive thing that needs specific requirements in a saddle? If one’s riding for an hour at a time, probably wouldn’t matter an enormous amount on the style of saddle, but if you want to be in it for a long time, I’d look for saddles designed for that.

“Ranch saddles” would probably be my go-to in that instance, Wade (my personal choice) Low Association (my second choice for a general work saddle) Visalia (I think are beautiful saddles from looking at them, never rode one). In the very near future I plan to start getting back into starting horses and selling them, so I’ll need something for that (I did build a charro saddle on a wade tree for that but have since changed my mind and want something else), I was thinking of maybe a Bear Trap but now I’m leaning very close to a Low Moose (as I get older the ground looks further and further away and a lot harder than it used to be from atop a horse, I want every advantage I can get if a horse lights up but I still want to actually be able to eject if need be, hard to do in a Bear Trap). But it would need to be a Low Moose with a seat and horn that are good for a day’s work too.

So generally, the range of western saddles as far as I can see is about competition, and for general riding probably the so called ranch saddles are best, the kind a cowboy might ride in for days on end would be the ones suited to most people’s riding in my opinion. They might not need to rope anything, but a seat designed for maximum comfort on long rides is really what they would want. They should all be designed for maximum comfort for the horse.
I think that just goes to show the difference between makers and trees within a style of saddle too.
Like the cutters and my cowhorse saddle I can ride all day, no problem, same with my husband's wade (his is a true wade) or my 3B.

While I love my 3B and husband's saddle if I didn't need one for work and just needed a good saddle to ride I wouldn't spend the money on what it costs to get either of our cowboy saddles made. They obviously have a good resale value but that is good for the seller not neccessarly the buyer on a budget.

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post #19 of 20 Old 02-14-2020, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by AnrewPL View Post
And Id say, if you can afford it, or have the patience, ALWAYS opt to save up and get a good custom-built saddle rather than one off the shelf. I got 2 and they have lasted some huge miles on a horse and both are now over 20 years old and are in mint condition (but then I always looked after them too).
I used to be of the opinion that if you're just riding, not competing in anything that requires excellence, that custom saddles were overrated. I used to think it ludicrous that anyone would spend more than 2 grand on a new custom when there are so many really nice used saddles out there.

Then I bought a custom. I call it my 'semi-custom' since it was actually made for someone else and they never came to pick it up, so I got it a bit cheaper than if I had had it built for myself, but it fits Dreams pretty darn well for all that. I will probably buy another non-custom saddle before I die, or perhaps several, but I gotta tell ya - this saddle is THE BEST. Now I can see what all the hype is about. It rides well, it's built to last, it can take a beating. I use this as my colt breaking saddle, and for just riding around on Dreams, and it is stupid comfortable. The leather is so much thicker than anything I've ever seen stock, yet it broke in faster than any other saddle I've ever ridden in. Only downside is the weight. This saddle is a beast and tips the scales at just over 43 pounds fully outfitted.

I've spoken to the saddler and I think I'm going to have another one made for Dreams, a trail saddle with no horn and round skirts, that is lighter so we can do longer rides. The price he quoted me was super reasonable - but then I've never been a big fan of lots of tooling, fancy buckles, etc. I use my saddles too often to want extra cleaning work built in lol. But now I'm definitely a fan of the custom saddle and wholeheartedly agree - if you've got the money and time (and it does take time - the saddler who made this one has a one year wait at the moment and is frequently longer than that) then a custom saddle can't be beat.

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post #20 of 20 Old 02-14-2020, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by COWCHICK77 View Post
I think that just goes to show the difference between makers and trees within a style of saddle too.
Like the cutters and my cowhorse saddle I can ride all day, no problem, same with my husband's wade (his is a true wade) or my 3B.

While I love my 3B and husband's saddle if I didn't need one for work and just needed a good saddle to ride I wouldn't spend the money on what it costs to get either of our cowboy saddles made. They obviously have a good resale value but that is good for the seller not neccessarly the buyer on a budget.
Totally, and another thing to be noted I guess is that a good saddler should be able to put a range of seat styles on a tree. Good example would be my friend who built all my saddles. He built my half-bred saddle with a hard seat like you'd find on a western saddle; on almost the same tree he built my cousin a half breed saddle much closer to a traditional Australian stock saddle with a suspended seat. But to a degree the saddler will still be limited to what they can do with the tree they are working with.
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