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Need saddle recommendations for trail

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  • Need saddle recommendations for trail

    I will have to purchase a new trail saddle. I do own a new Billy Cook Trail 1536 but it is causing issues with my horse that a new gel pad has not helped. I mostly trail ride for pleasure but would maybe one day ride competitive trail (wishful thinking on my part - my horse could do it don't know about me).

    I was loaned for consideration a Tucker trail saddle yesterday. It needs to be cleaned in a major way. I believe it is a High Plains Trail from 2003. I will try it this weekend to see if I even like Tuckers. I also have access to my stable mates Steele plantation saddle. I am also talking to Southern Trails about their saddles.

    What are your favorite or dream saddle for trail riding?
    Logging Miles with the Biscuit 530.5 Miles for 2011 visit my trail riding blog at www.dashingbigred.blogspot.com

  • #2
    I owned a Tucker, they are well made but heavy.

    I like the Steele saddles- very well made and comfortable.

    I am currently quite happy in my Rocking R Lady Trail saddles, they are heavy but well made and (IMO) well balanced and comfortable.

    For cheap and comfy and light, Fabtron makes some nice, comfortable saddles. A client of mine owned one that I rode in a few times and I smooth forgot it was a synthetic- it just 'felt' like a real saddle, and I own an Abetta and a Wintec, I know the feel and difference.

    I don't have a 'dream' saddle, I guess, but I do like my Rocking Rs a lot and put a lot of miles on them. They would be too heavy for endurance though, and it's not a goal of mine, so there you go

    What issues are you having with your current saddle?

    We're all built differently too, we are using a Crestridge Guffey on a new horse we bought, and my DH LOVES that saddle- me, I can last about a mile then it's killing my pelvis, it's too wide or something and I'm BAM right on those bones.


    • Original Poster

      Thanks so much! I will look at the saddles you mentioned.

      My gelding seemed fine until we started riding in a very hilly place! He suddenly got white marks on his withers. UGH I got a new gel pad and rode in a flat area yesterday and he actually kicked up a buck in a gallop - something this horse NEVER does. His tail switched back and forth the entire ride like wiper blades. It is pinching him and so it has to go. I hate to get ride of it - I just bought an expensive flank cinch for it and it has a pretty breast strap but oh well...his comfort is most important!
      Logging Miles with the Biscuit 530.5 Miles for 2011 visit my trail riding blog at www.dashingbigred.blogspot.com


      • #4
        good luck in finding something you both like

        whereabouts are you located? A day haul to Bedford Tack in Shelbyville TN may be worth your while, assuming you're down south somewhere Bedford has a million saddles of every sort and plenty of room to park and try different saddles on your horse. I HATE saddle shopping


        • #5
          My FIL recently received his custom Steele saddle. He'd hauled his horse to the factory, and they'd fit a tree to him, then rigged it with temp stirrup leathers to try for a couple of weeks. FIL rode out on the trails with it like that, and said even like that it was comfy. Fit horse really well, so he sent the tree back, they built another exactly like it, then built the rest of the saddle around it.

          He received the saddle last week, and has ridden out on 2 or 3 long rides. He says it's the most comfortable thing he's ever sat in, and is the most comfortable riding on a horse he's ever done. And the horse highly approves, too.

          And it looks nice. Very minimalist, lightweight and....comfy! If I could scrape up the money (hey, even $10 is hard right now!) I'd get one, too.

          "As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use."- William James

          Proud member of the Wheat Loss Clique.


          • #6
            agree with Kat and Melilio that Steele's are really nice-
            Personally I have two Ortho-flexes that I LOFF!!!!!!!
            "As soon as you're born you start dyin'
            So you might as well have a good time"


            • #7
              Have you considered a treeless saddle? They tend to fit more types of horses than any treed saddle (still not one size fits all, more like one size fits a lot more). I just purchased a Sensation G3 Hybrid and LOVE it! You can get a free demo from most dealers, just pay shipping. I demoed mine from freedomtreeless.com. The dealer I bought my saddle from competes in competitive trail rides in one of Sensations English Trail models and completed her season in first place. If you are concerned about giving up the security of a western saddle don't be, I found the seat to be even MORE secure than my western saddle and certainly more comfortable for me and my horse. If you want to know more I suggest joining the treeless saddle group on Yahoo groups. There is a ton of experience and good information to be had there.
              "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."


              • Original Poster

                Thanks for the suggestions. My friend has had her Steele Plantation for 20 years or so. She bought it used and it looks like a million bucks. I am going to take it with me this weekend - she can't go with me unfortunately.

                I am going to ride in three saddles this weekend...a Tucker, a Steele, and the saddle that his former owner used on him. She has 10 saddles and said only 2 of them fit Red!

                I am working with Kevin at Southern Trails Saddlery. I must say he goes above and beyond the call of duty to help. I really appreciate his help!
                Logging Miles with the Biscuit 530.5 Miles for 2011 visit my trail riding blog at www.dashingbigred.blogspot.com


                • #9
                  I am not familiar with those saddles/Southern Trails Saddlery so I went and looked them up - but they look cheap and cardboardy to me.

                  A southern trails saddle:


                  one of my Rocking Rs:


                  From the looks of their product, you couldn't give me one.


                  • #10
                    I love my Specialized Saddle. I bought it used and just LOVE the adjustability of the foam bars. http://www.specializedsaddle.com

                    I had a Tucker for a while but it only fit my slab sided walker. The trees run a bit on the small side, the saddles are heavy, but the seats are like sitting on a couch!

                    I used to have an older Albion Original Comfort dressage saddle. It fit just about everything I put it on!

                    I used Orthoflex for a while, but ended up with the front points digging into the place behind my horses' shoulders as they gained weight. They only flex so much.

                    I have a Rocking R (by RL Watson - another flex panel) that I like better than the Orthoflex, same nice seat, but same problem with the points, however the basic tree was wider.

                    Of all these, I REALLY love my Specialized the best. I even found an old Specialized to use as a back-up saddle. A few minor fixes, and it'll be as good as new for less than a quarter of the price!


                    • #11
                      We are definatley all different and saddles are a personnal perference! for Trail I love:

                      Arabian Company Solstice (on my arab - absolutely LOVE this saddle for the trail - comfy and secure, but I can also do dressage in it).

                      1904 repro mccllelen (on my standardbred before she died). competed in a 1859, but the 1904 is so much lighter and I like the leather covered tree as opposed to raw hide.
                      Check out my blog!

                      AERC miles: 740 and counting!


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by loganisle View Post
                        I love my Specialized Saddle. I bought it used and just LOVE the adjustability of the foam bars. http://www.specializedsaddle.com
                        I think you got the link slightly wrong. Should it be this site?

                        Approved helmet: Every time; every ride.
                        "When a sport gets to be predictable it ceases to be fun." - RAR's wise brother


                        • #13
                          I am really surprised... I just bought an older used Abetta... and it is WONDERFUL.

                          It weighs LESS than my english saddle (which is also synthetic!). It fits my mare like it was custom made just for her, so their trees must run ridiculously wide because it's only SQHB!

                          It's comfortable, and I think it would be good for endurance riding because it is so light. Less for the horse to carry.

                          I bought mine for a whopping $170, including shipping. I'd buy another one in a heartbeat, the second this one wears out, I'm buying a new one. But from what I've heard about their durability, I don't expect to have it wear out anytime soon!
                          Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!


                          • #14
                            I have used Ortho-Flex saddles for years. Love them. I can put any model I have on any horse, and I have never had a problem.
                            My suggestion- go on Ebay and buy one from back in the day when Len Brown ran the company. They'll say made in "Nevada, Missouri."
                            I'm not a fan of the new OF's. Mainly, because everyone I've ever seen is so ugly! I've never ridden in one.


                            • #15
                              I second Sublimequine in the Abetta saddle choice. I have a very wide endurance model, to fit a very wide mustang. Its one of the few that he doesn't
                              act up with. It is also more dressage in balance, IMHO, than most western
                              saddles. I changed out the fenders for english leathers. Put a sheepskin seat
                              cover on and away we go. Its darn comfy!


                              • #16
                                I adore my Wintec dressage for CTR actually. It fits my gelding very well and is a comfortable ride, even at long distance. I am sure my Frank Baines would also do well, but its new and its not been out of the arena just yet. They make endurance specific saddles as well.
                                - JK Sporthorses -


                                • Original Poster

                                  Thanks so much for the suggestions and information.

                                  I went out to the barn yesterday with my stable mate. We tacked Red up with her Steele Plantation and I hopped on. Wow wee what a comfortable saddle! I used to ride barebacked as a kid (geez, that was 38 years ago though) and have always rode in a Western saddle so I felt almost like I was riding on air!

                                  I do like the security of a Western Saddle...guess it is all what your used to. I sat there for a while and it was very easy on the bones. Loved it BUT it was pinching my boy the same as the Billy Cook. You couldn't slide a piece of paper under his shoulders where it is tight to save your soul. We both thought it was too tight but he wasn't switching his tail!

                                  Sigh....he is not built funny really. It seems like he has a bulge right on behind his scapula and then it hollows out behind the bulge and that seems to be the problem to me.
                                  Logging Miles with the Biscuit 530.5 Miles for 2011 visit my trail riding blog at www.dashingbigred.blogspot.com


                                  • #18
                                    I have a coming 4 yr RMH filly who is stocky to beat the band! Round, flat type back, not much withers, I would call her mutton withered I guess. She has beefed out in the past couple months, and I know she will mature a bit more stocky. Very smooth gait.

                                    I have said this before, I am riding in an Arabian Saddle Company Solstice. I didn't PAY the mucho dollars for my saddle, it was a demo, and I got it for about $1200. It is a wide width. IOW a 32cm. It is very squishy and very comfy and secure. It is english/dressage. It is deep but not as deep as a dressage saddle. This saddle has fit my wide 14.2HH endurance arab, and a huge 15.3HH QH gelding I had and sold last fall. That horse was smooth as ever, but too giant for me at 5'5" 1/2" (got to get that half inch in there!!).

                                    I so wanted to ride in my old Crosby AP on this horse. But it simply doesn't fit her. It is a medium to maybe a medium wide. I tried it on her the other day because I hadn't ridden her lately in it and just thought it would magically fit, well it was like a triangle on a round greased up whiskey barrel. I don't need a secure seat, but this saddle rolled on her, and just wouldn't stay put. Means it is too narrow. Darn. Yes, I had it girthed up very well. Tried two different positions on the girth too. No go.

                                    I tried a BM barrel saddle, and the endurance model, and both WAY too narrow in the front. Holy bat wings bat girl, if I had put a pad and my weight(140), it would have pinched her like crazy. Also the back of the saddle cut into her hips, just in front. I did ride her in the endurance model, and she was very hesitant to move forward, wouldn't gait, and she gaits very smoothly. She acted like she was going to buck. But didn't. It pinched her at the shoulders.

                                    I guess this is the saddle to ride her in. Fits me, fits her. It is a deeper-ish saddle. Very secure iow. I can wear the stirrups very long, with the EZ rides, and it is squishy feeling on my feet too.

                                    If the saddle doesn't fit, the pro saddle fitter can stuff it and make it fit, even if the shoulders of the horse are uneven.

                                    Maybe you should try one? They are not JUST for arabs. Not sure where you are located, but you are welcome to come have a try on mine. There are ones out there used forsale. Check the classifieds on endurance dot net.

                                    I have had some serious spooks on horses in this saddle. The way you are in the saddle, you just can't come out. You can't say that about all saddles either. But this one, yes for sure. It makes a great trail saddle due to comfy, and secure for those who are looking for it. In english if the horse gets wild and no horn (if you need one) grab mane, or hold on underneath the front of the saddle. They also have these little leather straps you can also put on the saddle. This saddle has alot of rings to tie stuff on. I have long endurance riding miles in it too. Mine is smooth leather. Had it since '02.

                                    Maybe you should try something other than a western type saddle? You may be surprised. Especially on a horse who has large shoulders. This saddle also has a wide channel for airflow, and the panels under the saddle are wider and larger than other saddles. The larger panels allow for more weight distribution. Larger wide channels allow for more airflow. I use a simple cotton pad. That is all ya need. No fancy pads. No shims, nothing.

                                    Just some thoughts . ... . .


                                    • #19
                                      I have a western style endurance saddle which I have used for the last few years. My courage has increased and I was ready to move back to an english style saddle, but didn't want to mess up my Pessoa. So I purchased a Wintec 2000 on sale(updating the style) and with the entire gullet kit included free. I have only had it a week and have ridden in it every day and yesterday(Saturday) actually went foxhunting in it. I was very happy with it especially since it rained the entire time and I never felt unbalanced or slippery. My mare seems to like it also.


                                      • #20
                                        Try Hillview Farms in Minnesota. They make great saddles, lovely and well made and will fit any horse. I got sick of buying saddles every time I got a new horse! The extra money you spend is well worth it. I have 5 horses with very different backs (from a mule to a high withered Walker) and I can use the same saddle on every one. No marks, no discomfort and I ride for 6-8 hours at a time in rough terrain.