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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar. 27, 2009
    Northern California

    Default Saddle Suggestions for H/J Rider Switching to Western!

    Alright, I never thought the day would come I'd give up my antares saddle and Holsteiner gelding for a APHA mare and wester tack. But, it has. And I'm really looking forward to relaxing on the trail with my new mare.

    So, I know next to nothing about western saddles. I've ridden western but as far as buying a saddle... I need some help!

    I'm a poor college student. I don't really have much money to spend. However, I don't want to buy something cheap that won't last and will hurt my horse. I'm willing to save for a while to find the right saddle.

    She's about 15.1, maybe .2 if she stands on her tiptoes. Built like a paint (though she's 1/2 TB). But, no withers. Typical QH build, just her head is so delicate! I assume she'd go in regular QH bars with the build of her back-- pretty round with little wither, nice sized barrel.

    She's a just turned 6yo, originally trained for polo (well, started for polo) so I need to do a lot of foundation work with her. She goes and whoas, but the steering thing is a little bit of an issue, however, I think a lot of it was to do with how uncomfortable her feet were-- just pulled and trimmed her, she had had those shoes on since May! (not owned by me, I just got her last week!) I rode her bareback in a rope halter and was catching on to the neck reining pretty quick, very responsive off leg cues so we did a lot of turning that way

    I found this saddle--

    It looks nice enough, though it's "cheap". I do have someone helping me fit the saddle to her, but before I ship a saddle out here I want to know if it's at least worth looking at.

    Any other ideas, brands, etc. that I should look into?

    Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov. 8, 2008


    You don't need to switch to a Western saddle to go on trails! Unless you're planning on mastering a Western discipline like reining or cutting, you have many choices as far as saddles go.
    The best piece of advice I got when switching disciplines (from dressage to endurance) was not to change up every single thing and keep what's familiar and comfortable to me. So I ended up with an English-style endurance saddle from Frank Baines. Duett and Arabian Saddle Company also make great saddles that will feel a lot more familiar to you. And you will know how to tighten the girth
    There are also lots of people who like treeless saddles for trailriding. I personally wouldn't recommend them but if you do your research and use the correct pads they may also be an option.
    It's always a good idea to work with an independent saddlefitter who has a variety of demo saddles and lots of experience in different disciplines.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul. 17, 2005


    I have a Fabtron endurance saddle which I love. I've ridden in western saddles for years, but I prefer something without a horn.
    Only dead fish go with the flow.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar. 27, 2009
    Northern California


    Thanks guys!

    I'm actually really excited about NOT being in my jumper saddle. Long, complicated story, but I'm more than ready for a change in things! I've always wanted to ride western but was such a hunter princess and at such a hunter princess barn that I never did. Now I have the chance!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr. 17, 2002
    between the barn and the pond


    For inexpensive and comfy, the Fabtrons are rather hard to beat.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug. 21, 2006
    Pa-eternally laboring in the infinite creative and sustentative work of the universe


    consider synthetic saddles ... lightweight ... and weatherproof.
    plus comfortable for both horse and rider.

    Like you, I switched 6yrs ago....
    and have tried a lot of saddles..

    my favorite is a Weaver......
    the full set... breastcollar, (halter)bridle...
    love mine !!!

    and theres always the saddle seat pads to make it even that much more comfortable. Price new: around $300

    the Abettas are just as comfy... and come in a wider varity of colors and patterns,
    Never a problem with horse fit.

    If........ you can find someone willing to let you ride in them...thats my best suggestion... like new jeans, it takes a bit for them to break in and fit to you.
    OTTB's ready to show/event/jumpers. Track ponies for perfect trail partners.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb. 9, 2005
    Upper Midwest


    Somewhere, in the off course forum I started a thread on a similar topic awhile back. Got lots off feedback--you may want to do a search.

    That said, western saddles are really heavy (at least compared to my close contact saddle) and if it was for trail riding, as opposed to roping cattle, I would (personally) lean towards the Fabtron as well.

    As an English convert, you might like a roping saddle with an "A" tree or the equivalent. That is to say, something that was designed to let the rider stand in the saddle, as the "twist" or whatever it is called in Western speak seems to be narrower. My friend's western saddle, for example, has such a wide twist I feel like I'm doing the splits.

    Now I'm off to go clean my "new" western saddle that I got today. Mentioned I had lost an Ebay bid this afternoon (on a Dakota) and my BO pulled her husbands old roping saddle out of the basement for me to use!! How cool is that?
    DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette:

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec. 14, 2008
    New Hampshire

    Default Welcome to the club!!!!

    After years of hunters, combined training, dressage, and training western pleasure, I made the true switch to JUST trail riding.

    I kept my dressage saddle but sold everything else. I then bought a Big Horn half synthetic/half leather endurance saddle that I LOVE!!!!

    I can ride in mud, water, whatever and just wipe/sponge/hose the lower parts to clean. The only leather is the seat, pommel, cantle area.

    It has slightly more security and deeper seat that I was used to and extremely comfortable for hours on the trail. Very lightwieght too for my gelding. I do agree, just ride in what feels right. And don't be afraid to buy used. There are so many nice saddles on consignment.
    Gone gaited....

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb. 3, 2000


    I just took the plunge myself and got an endurance saddle for my mare -- I had tried a few treeless endurance saddles, but had issues with them slipping on my mutton withered mare -- So I bought a saddle with full QH bars --

    As a h/j rider, I find I'm not comfortable with the balance in many western saddles, but this saddle feels balanced to me -- It has center fire rigging which is what my experienced endurance friends have recommended --

    I also like that since it's synthetic it's relatively light (17 lbs) and relatively inexpensive (<$500) --

    The twist does feel wide to me, especially at the start of a ride, but I seem to work out of the tight feeling after 5-10 minutes in the saddle --

    One issue I haven't resolved yet is that one of the fenders rubs my mare's side -- I think it's related to the tightness in my hips because it's on the side where my hip feels tight -- The fender has a grosgrain binding, and near the bottom of the fender is where it rubs -- I'm wondering if I can replace the binding with something smoother to resolve the issue -- Or perhaps there are some stretches I could do before I ride --

    BTW, I thought I would have issues cinching up a western saddle -- I'm used to tightenning her girth a hole or 2 after I get on -- But, that hasn't been an issue -- It's easy to cinch her up snugly before I first mount --
    "I never mind if an adult uses safety stirrups." GM

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct. 2, 2007
    Beyond the pale.


    if you are still looking for traditional western, you can't go far wrong with an old Textan or Circle Y barrel saddle. They are relatively lighweight, especially if they are round skirted, they put you in a correct and comfortable seat and they last forever. I ride in a 60 year old Textan ladies barrel racer that I bought for $250 a few years back in our local consignment store. It weighs about 22 lbs. not much more than my dressage saddle or most synthetic westerns. I love the hand carved oakleaves and such as well.
    "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov. 17, 2006


    I, too, got a Big Horn endurance, part synthetic, part leather. I like the fact that it does not have a horn. I just don't like them. I love the saddle. I'm normally a h/j rider as well, but recently bought a paint (solid black) that I just love. I took him on our first ACTHA ride Saturday, and had a blast on the trails. The terrain was rugged, and VERY hilly/steep in parts. I'm glad I was not in my hunter saddle for this ride. I probably would have flipped off the back.

    I still have my 3 wbs, but I'm enjoying changing it up with the new horse.

    Good luck.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr. 6, 2010
    San Diego, CA


    Nothing beats a full leather saddle. I would also suggest not buying new if you can avoid it. The only synthetic saddles I would suggest are the Abettas, they are tried and true and their saddles fit very true to size. Different types of western saddles have different seats. Barrel saddles have high cantles, high horns and deep seats to help the girls stay on. They REALLY SUCK for trail riding especially if you horse like to jump the creek as that horn will pop you in the chest and it will hurt. Cutting saddles have a deep seat, high cantle and low horn to hook your knee when your horse is bobbin side to side and sliding. I always rode in my cutting saddle, it was comfortable and its what I had. I never liked the trail saddles, seat's too shallow for my ample rear and my mare liked to jump into the creek so I needed a bit of a handle without catching my chest on it. If you can get a couple of saddles on trial and then buy. I will swear by the Three commandments of Western Saddle makers, Circly Y, ML Letty, and Billy Cook.
    Adoring fan of A Fine Romance
    Originally Posted by alicen:
    What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan. 10, 2008
    Western NY


    I normally ride in a close-contact saddle, but I have a Big Horn cordura synthetic that I use on trails. I also am not normally a fan of synthetic saddles, especially the Wintec western, but I really like my Big Horn. I swapped a lot of the nylon bits (cinch and so on) for leather. Very comfortable for me, fits my QH well and easy to take care of, especially when he likes to go swimming in dirty ponds. And for as well as it fits us both, it was very cheap. (:

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