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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Shopping for a ranch cutter, ranch versatility or cowhorse type saddle and I'm torn between roughout or slick seat. What's your preference? I'm a former western pleasure/equitation rider who just bought a ranch riding/cowhorse mare and I'm struggling to nicely sit these more animated gaits, lol.

Nervous part of my brain says roughout will hold me on, but realistic part of my brain thinks I'll just rub a hole in the seat of my jeans being stuck to the saddle as my mare moves.

Slick seat would allow more rider movement to accommodate those gaits and movements should we ever actually work a cow, but the nervous part of my brain says I'm going to slide right off...
 

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I do ranch work and prefer a slick seat. Even when sorting in corrals I never feel like I'm going to go shooting off the sides.

I have three friends who train and compete in cutting. All ride slick seats.
 

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I prefer the slick seat, but if you are worried about sliding around there is a stick-um spray that you can spray your pants. I did this for an Arabian Native Costume class because my costume was very slickery!!!!
 

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I prefer roughout. Well, I prefer the grippy nylon of my Abetta to my slick seat leather saddle. I may trend back to my slick saddle because Bandit just doesn't react the way he used to, and has never been as reactive as Mia was at her worst.

But FWIW, when my horse does an unexpected, violent dropped-shoulder spin, the Abetta is easier to stay in. The slick seat makes me feel like an empty beer can in the bed of my pickup! Never came out but it doesn't do me a lot of favors when the horse poop hits the fan!




You CAN split the difference by using Butt Velcro, which has saved my butt more than once:


If I had to do it all over, I'd buy roughout AND a smaller seat size. And the rough cordura nylon has never harmed my jeans.
 

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I have a rough out wade and a slick seat ranch cutter. I show cow horse. When I started I only had my rough out. One of the trainers I ride with told me you'd want a slick seat; you want to be able to move in the saddle. But I wasn't ready to buy a new saddle. So I rode the wade for a few years (I think I was the only one riding in a wade and in a rough out). When I finally got my slick seat new saddle, I found out he was right. I've had my slick seat saddle for close to 10 years now. For some things, the rough out is fine (and I love my wade saddle!). But for cowhorse, I'll stick to the slick seat.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the input!
 

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I don't ride western, but one thing I do like about leather vs. suede and the like, is that you can control how slick or how sticky leather is. If you condition frequently, you can add a lot of grip to smooth leather. I rub Oakwood conditioner into my saddle's seat and into my half chaps or tall boots, and I can make things REALLY sticky that way, if I want to. Sometimes I'll grease everything up well before I do a lot of no stirrups work. ;)
 

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The roughout eventually turns into smooth after time anyhow and I've never felt the roughout actually helps. I have both.

More importantly find a saddle that keeps you sat back on your pockets in the stops and turns, that is what is going to keep you from sliding out of your saddle.

I have a Tom Block cow horse with a slick seat, I have no problem keeping my seat.
I work for a cutting horse trainer, most of his saddles we use are Stray Dog cutters and I love them. They have a great seat with a lot of stirrup swing. They are the more modern style with higher built up front end. (I rode the old style flat seated cutters years ago)

He also has some Jeff Smith's and I really dont like them as much. The loop seated runch cutter tends to tip me forward and it feels ide like I'm straddling a barrel and I dont feel close to the horse I'm riding. I can lope fine in it but I dont like to turn back or work in it.
 

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I work for a cutting horse trainer, most of his saddles we use are Stray Dog cutters and I love them. They have a great seat with a lot of stirrup swing. They are the more modern style with higher built up front end.
I've been eying Stray Dogs for years; Jake Gorrell rides them. Might have to hit him up for a test ride ... :think:
 

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I've been eying Stray Dogs for years; Jake Gorrell rides them. Might have to hit him up for a test ride ... :think:
It took me a few rides to get used to it because it's even higher in the front than my cowhorse saddle but I like them!
 
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It took me a few rides to get used to it because it's even higher in the front than my cowhorse saddle but I like them!
I think I'd like that. But need to ride in one.

Matt had a Bob's for a short time (Jake Telford model); he went to sell it and I test rode it in case I wanted to buy it.



Both Pi and I were like "what the heck?" It fit her fine, but I felt like I was propped up on top of her and could not feel her at all. Then when we went to stop, I could not get set down and was popping all over over the place. I probably would have been fine if I had ridden it a few more times, but didn't like how it felt that first ride.

So I've heard Don Rich, Tom Block and Stray Dog. My current saddle is a Todd Jey. I like it a lot. But would love to have a different brand, too.
 

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Roughout comes in different roughness. I've noticed from the better saddle makers the nap tends to be pretty short, almost like it has been sanded but I think they get it from the tannery that way. This kind of roughout will eventually glass down and be about as smooth as a smooth saddle over time. On the other end of the scale it can be pretty rough, I've had a saddle like that and it did feel like riding sand paper which is why I no longer own that saddle.

If you ride with chaps, smooth chaps on a smooth saddle has a decent amount of grip in my opinion. I'm assuming roughout chaps on a roughout saddle has even more but I don't own a pair.

As @boots said the standard in performance horse type saddles seems to be a smooth seat. Whether that is what everyone rides out of preference or because that is what the makers build I have no idea. Makers like Jeff Smith you can order it just about anyway you want.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
It took me a few rides to get used to it because it's even higher in the front than my cowhorse saddle but I like them!
Do you like the high sloped up front of today's cowhorse saddles? I get the point of sitting deep to turn a cow, but does that shape encourage leaning forward?

Have been mostly eyeing ranch cutters, as I'm unlikely to ever dally anything besides a trail class log, but several have suggested the cow horse saddles from Don Rich, Saddle House, Capo Custom, or KO Trading. Jeff Smith's shop is a few miles from my house, so I've seen the quality but never actually ridden one - seems people either love or hate them, no in between.
 
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Do you like the high sloped up front of today's cowhorse saddles? I get the point of sitting deep to turn a cow, but does that shape encourage leaning forward?

Have been mostly eyeing ranch cutters, as I'm unlikely to ever dally anything besides a trail class log, but several have suggested the cow horse saddles from Don Rich, Saddle House, Capo Custom, or KO Trading. Jeff Smith's shop is a few miles from my house, so I've seen the quality but never actually ridden one - seems people either love or hate them, no in between.
That goes by a few names but I've heard it called a "Reiner's Rise" mostly. It seems to improve your ability to stay in one place in the saddle, or at least that is what I think it does.

I like the Don Rich saddles, they look like good quality. KO Trading is in the Stock Yards, and I don't have an opinion of them other than to say I've seen other saddles that are identical except for the maker mark and it makes me think they are mass produced by "someone" under different names. Doesn't mean they won't work out, just saying.

The Jeff Smith Ranch Cutter I have is a decent saddle. No issues or complaints with it. That is the thing though with saddles is they can be well made and some people still don't like something about it. Very much a personal preference thing.

You might also look at Roo Hide. They have been my go to recommendation for used Cutters for a while now because I've ridden a few of them and liked them all, seem to be good value in the used price range.
 

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I think I'd like that. But need to ride in one.

Matt had a Bob's for a short time (Jake Telford model); he went to sell it and I test rode it in case I wanted to buy it.



Both Pi and I were like "what the heck?" It fit her fine, but I felt like I was propped up on top of her and could not feel her at all. Then when we went to stop, I could not get set down and was popping all over over the place. I probably would have been fine if I had ridden it a few more times, but didn't like how it felt that first ride.

So I've heard Don Rich, Tom Block and Stray Dog. My current saddle is a Todd Jey. I like it a lot. But would love to have a different brand, too.

Years ago it seemed everyone rode Bob's or Roohide for a production saddle. Back then a Bob's was the nicest I had rode in but after riding others I am no longer a fan of the Bob's for the same reasons you said. I rode a Bob's cowhorse as a colt starting saddle and felt like it wallowed all over the top of the horses. I was constantly trying to shift it back to where it needed to be. Trainer I worked for used to ask me why I was always shifting my saddle, I told him it was always moving. I suspect that was why he didn't ride it and why it was the colt saddle.
I didn't like that model of cowhorse either, it looked like they took a reiner and put a dally horn on it. It was ugly.

Don Rich is good, they seem to hold their value, a well used one brings decent money.

I like Todd Jey too. I found a good deal on one but the seat was too big so I passed.

Been hearing good things about Saddlehouse but I haven't had the chance to even sit in one.

Martin's feel the same as Jeff Smith. I know some people love them though.
 

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Do you like the high sloped up front of today's cowhorse saddles? I get the point of sitting deep to turn a cow, but does that shape encourage leaning forward?

Have been mostly eyeing ranch cutters, as I'm unlikely to ever dally anything besides a trail class log, but several have suggested the cow horse saddles from Don Rich, Saddle House, Capo Custom, or KO Trading. Jeff Smith's shop is a few miles from my house, so I've seen the quality but never actually ridden one - seems people either love or hate them, no in between.
I have not found the bigger front end to encourage leaning forward. My Tom Block cowhorse doesn't have much of a front end. To me it just feels different.

I know this isn't a great picture but you can kinda see how much more rise there is to the forks on the Stray Dog cutter than on my Tom Block.

The Stray Dog cutters I have been riding in are 16.5 seats I think and my cowhorse is a 15.5. And I feel like the Stray Dog is a tighter fit.
 

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Been hearing good things about Saddlehouse but I haven't had the chance to even sit in one.
I'm not one to follow fads and these, plus the Capo saddles, are all the rage right now. I have a friend who ordered a custom saddle from Saddlehouse; despite Adam's assurances it did not fit her horse. She loved it for herself, but sold it because it didn't fit her horse. I do hear a lot of NonPros riding in them.

She bought a Capo next - it has yet to arrive. The one thing about Capo's is that I see a lot of them on re-sale. Have no clue as to why. A friend bought one, talked it up a bunch before it came and the day after she got it, put it up for sale saying the seat was too big. She's a big Don Rich fan, so maybe Capo's just don't live up to a Don Rich.

I have not ridden in either; but probably would still go for the old brands still out there that are known for quality.

Martin's feel the same as Jeff Smith. I know some people love them though.
Yea, I see that too - there are some die-hard Martin fans. I have yet to ride in one of those either ...
 

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I have never ridden a Capo either. I see them for sale so that makes me wonder.

I see a lot of Jeff Smith's and Martin's for sale too. Which like I said, I've ridden in both and they felt similar to me and I dont really like them.
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@Cynical25 since you live close to Jeff Smith's, I wonder if they'd let you ride in one there at the arena to try out?
At least you could get an idea whether you like them or get a feel for what you do like or not if search continues past a Jeff Smith?
 

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Yay you for joining the world of WCH! It's a blast. So I have 2 different saddles that I show in... one roughout, one slick. My two rein mare is a very catty in how she moves on a cow, and when I got my custom saddle made for her, the guy who made it watched me ride her and recommended roughout because she's honestly catty enough that she has unseated me before in fence work. The roughout helps me stay centered on her and help her if she needs direction when the heat is turned up. My slick is a wicked nice saddle too, but fits my snaffle bit horse better. He's a big, sweepy mover and much easier to stay centered on, so I have no issue riding him in a slick seat. I guess my advice would be go down the fence in both and decide which works better for you, but more importantly, decide which saddle fits your horse best. That's the most important thing. Also, your chaps will help you out if you're swimming around a little in a slick seat.
 
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