I'm going to pick up a saddle to try out today. An older Circle Y saddle. I'm a bit nervous because I don't have any photos of it and the seat is only 14", but hey, it's someplace to start and if it fits me and my QH, then it is going to be a really good deal!
But I don't have any other western tack, and I feel like that needs to change.
I'm planning on getting a mohair cinch, but I'm not sure what type of saddle pad (saddle blanket?) is good. I'm not looking for anything crazy expensive with all sorts of amazing claims, but I do want something high quality. I also need a breastplate and a bridle, hopefully no more than $100 for both. I'm mainly going to trail ride and do some local (and low key) showing, so nothing has to be really fancy. I'm keeping english tack so for now I can get away with an english breastplate (I hope) and my english bridle.
Breastplates are out of style in the show ring. So you could get a nice bridle for showing(look on ebay for a nice quality used) and then get a set of tack for trail riding. For trail riding I like nylon or biothane for ease of cleaning. No to helpful for saddle pads. I ride in a treeless saddle so I need specific things from my pad. You could go with a nice wool pad (I think 5stars are the popular ones) and get a blanket to put over it for showing if needed.
But for trail riding, a breastplate is a good thing, helps keep the saddle where it should be- granted that may not apply to all horses, but I use one every time because I mostly ride some pretty steep mountain trails.
For pads, I tried TackyToo pads and hated 'em. Mine are probably not what you'd want for show, I use the type shown in the first example on this link (and I have a round one as well for my round skirted saddle):
It is in the general category of 'Diamond Wool Ranch Pads, there are more pictures further down that page.
Generally I do like the Diamond Wool pads, I have a couple of their single layer navajo type (but solid color) that I use for 'everyday' English riding, too save the white fitted pads for hunting.
As to seat size, if you can get two fingers between your thigh and base of pommel, that is the right fit, not too big, not too small. I use 15 inch myself (and am sadly no longer accused of being skinny), whereas for English I use 17".
Last edited by Beverley; Sep. 23, 2012 at 04:27 PM.
All of my favorite western tack (except my saddle) was made by Amen Custom Leather (http://amencustomleather.com/). He's really affordable and he's a great guy. I've been buying from him for about 3 years, his leather is great and his stuff lasts forever. His working tack isn't fancy (although if you want to make it fancy he makes gorgeous show tack!) but it's affordable, supple, buttery soft, and it doesn't quit. I have a bridle from him that I abused the heck out of and it still looks good. I really can't say enough good things about Mr. Amen.
My favorite saddle pads are the Classic Equine Sensorflex pads. I've never had a horse get rubbed or go sore in one, they dry really fast, mine hadn't hardly compressed even after 18 months of hard use, and they break in really fast. I like the wool felt pads like the previous poster, but I have had several horses (usually either sensitive skinned or very high withered) get rubs in them (even with a well fitting saddle). The Contourpedic neoprene pads are really nice and durable (and super easy to clean), but if you're going on very long rides or are in a very hot/humid climate, they don't breathe very well.
I LOVE simple, well-made tack. Luckily for me, one of my FIL's good friends is a saddlemaker, so I was able to get an awesome saddle, breastcollar, and a couple headstalls for a very decent price. I don't show, so basic stuff works for me. I love the breastcollar - very useful for riding on steep trails, and for roping. Plus I love the way that this one is attached - it actually loops around the tree, instead of just clipping to loops on the skirt material. I'll see if I can dig up a pic: