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Western saddle?

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  • Western saddle?

    My 14 yo son is comfortable w/t on his 16.1 TB mare. He is not keen on cantering because he doesn't feel very secure. Whether or not he ever canters is not a huge deal but I was wondering if a Western saddle would help him feel more secure? He is strictly a pleasure rider, trucks around with me in the arena or on the trails. The mare is 13ish and afaik only been in English tack. Would that be a problem? TIA!

  • #2
    The switch to a western saddle for a kids w/t horse shouldn't be an issue. It might take her a ride or 2 to get used to the different feel, but as long as it fits her correctly, I wouldn't worry. My only concern would be if he developed the tendancy to use the saddle horn as a crutch (we jokingly refer to it as a 'binky' in our barn, lol) to the point it might interfere with his safety. For example, rather than sitting up with his heels down to keep himself balanced and in the saddle, relying on grabbing onto the saddle horn in order to stay on. But that's your and his call. And it can't hurt to try, right?
    Different Times Equestrian Ventures at Hidden Spring Ranch


    • Original Poster

      Pardon this exceedingly stupid question, but if he does ride in a western saddle, he can still use the regular English bridle and bit, right?


      • #4
        Yup. Purists be damned.
        Different Times Equestrian Ventures at Hidden Spring Ranch


        • #5
          English bridle and bit are perfectly fine, my dad rides in the western saddle and all my hunt stuff when we go out trail riding.


          • #6
            She ought to be fine as long as it fits. I would probably lunge her in the western saddle first just to let her feel it out.

            Use whatever bridle you want, no one's gonna care.

            I would imagine your son would feel a LOT more secure cantering in a western saddle than english. Especially if you could pick up a barrel racing saddle or roping saddle, something with a good sized cantle.
            Originally posted by barka.lounger
            u get big old crop and bust that nags ass the next time it even slow down.

            we see u in gp ring in no time.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Come Shine View Post
              Pardon this exceedingly stupid question, but if he does ride in a western saddle, he can still use the regular English bridle and bit, right?
              Of course! Whatever the horse goes nicely in.

              I got a LOT of odd looks years ago riding my elder stallion (red dun QH) in a dressage saddle and his rawhide bosal! BUT, he was happy, I was happy, and we had great trail rides.
              Homesick Angels Farm
              breeders of champion Irish Draught Sporthorses
              standing Manu Forti's Touch Down RID


              • Original Poster

                It sounds like trying a Western saddle would be a good option. That's great.

                I have bought lots of English saddles in my life but never a western one.

                What should I look for? Size? Type? Used models? Please, please, please tell me this will be easier, cheaper and less traumatic than hunting for an english one.


                • #9
                  I've ridden in English saddles with western bridles and bosals. I've ridden in western saddles with english bridles. The only problem I've had is that the loop in the english reins can sometimes get hung up on the saddle horn. It can be an annoying inconvenience. Other than that, if you're not showing, who cares what gear you use, as long as it fits and serves the purpose of what you are needing. Regards!
                  I live in a house, but I'm at home on a horse


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Come Shine View Post
                    It sounds like trying a Western saddle would be a good option. That's great.

                    I have bought lots of English saddles in my life but never a western one.

                    What should I look for? Size? Type? Used models? Please, please, please tell me this will be easier, cheaper and less traumatic than hunting for an english one.
                    IMO western saddle shopping is way easier than english.

                    I'd recommend taking your son to the closest place that sells western tack...let HIM see what he likes. They have synthetic wintec type saddles that are cheap, all the way up to the $$$ western pleasure type stuff. It'd be good for him to actually sit in them though and see what he prefers (some like synthetic vs leather, some like a shallower seat like a reining saddle, some like a deeper seat like a barrel/roping saddle). You can also see what size he fits best in (they have seat sizes just like english ones). From there you can shop anywhere (great deals on eBay, craigslist, etc) but I think it's important to go sit in a lot of them to get a feel for what he likes.

                    You'll need to figure out what size tree the mare takes (semi QH bars, full qh bars, etc). Here's a site that should shed some light on that for you -

                    Originally posted by barka.lounger
                    u get big old crop and bust that nags ass the next time it even slow down.

                    we see u in gp ring in no time.


                    • #11
                      Sorry, comeshine, western is no easier. Same as with english, one size can vary greatly between one saddle and another. Do you have a local tack shop that would let you borrow a few to try? That's usually easiest. In general, I like a really flat saddle for myself, but for your son, I'd look for a roping saddle or barrel saddle. Nice deep seats.
                      Different Times Equestrian Ventures at Hidden Spring Ranch


                      • #12
                        I use my western saddle for trail rides when my horse is feeling a little frisky, because it does help kinda lock you in. The one time my horse has really bucked under saddle I was in my western trail saddle, and I didn't move an inch. So it might make him feel a little more secure. (:

                        I am very nervous about getting hung up in the stirrups, and there's no western equivalent to English peacock stirrups; western safety stirrups are rather clunky and expensive. Tapaderos are the "hoods" you can put over the front of a stirrup; they prevent the foot from sliding through. You can get nice expensive leather ones, or you can buy Cashel Cozy Toes stirrup covers, which serve the same purpose, and you can tuck the little hand-warmer packets into them. Guess which I picked?

                        Most western saddles are built on QH or semi-QH bars, so it might be a little harder finding a saddle that will fit a narrow TB well. If it's just an occasional saddle though, it's a little easier to pad up a western saddle than an English, I think, since at least the weight is distributed more and the pommels on most western saddles are cut higher and wider.

                        A lot of cheap leather saddles out there have Mexican trees, which tend to be narrower, but they're also pretty widely varying in quality. That's what you'll tend to find in a cheaper used saddle, so it might work out for a TB. Wintec western saddles are crap. I have a Big Horn cordura trail saddle, which is actually pretty good quality for the money, in my opinion. I replaced the nylon cinch strap and fittings with leather ones. It always fits my QH well, whilst he has gone through multiple English saddles as he matures and fills out. Sigh.
                        "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

                        Graphite/Pastel Portraits


                        • #13
                          I bought a pimped-out Crates show saddle for my dressage WB in June. Love it. He's had a few months off because of a bump, and when he goes back to work it will be in a western saddle and double bridle for the first week or so.


                          • Original Poster

                            Thanks for all the information!

                            Wow - from the web link there is as much to consider buying Western as buying English.

                            Thanks for the info about the safety stirrups.

                            There are a couple of people at the barn who ride Western, so I will pick their brains before I head out shopping.

                            So far - stay away from Wintecs. What are some brands that would be good ones to watch for? What saddles do they have at TSC? Is it better to buy new or used? I prefer to buy used English because they are such a pain to break in. Basically, the Western saddle would be used a few times a month for my son to truck around in.

                            What price range would be reasonable to be looking in?

                            In English saddles, I have a Crosby, Barnsby, Bates, Richvale and a no name. I have a wonderful saddle fitter, would they do Western saddles, too?

                            Again - thanks so much for the help.


                            • #15
                              I have a western saddle for my little Hanoverian mare. After shopping for ages I discovered that I had to buy an Arab saddle for her with a short, round skirt. It was the only saddle that fit her correctly (the Arab tree has a narrow gullet with wide bars, so it fir her withers, but also fit her wide shoulders). Also, all the square skirt QH saddles were WAY too long for her short back.

                              I ended up with an older used Circle Y Sahara Arab saddle and love it, as does my mare. The Circle Y saddles are a good quality for a reasonable price and will last forever. You should be able to find one in the $500-$1000 range, and there are loads of Circle Y's for sale out there.
                              On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog


                              • #16
                                Just remember that western, the pads take the place of the fitted wool panels in an English saddle of any type.

                                You need the tree to fit the angles of the horse... width is one thing, angles are another. Is the horse A shaped or (upsidedown) U shaped or (upsidedown) \_/ shaped... that will matter. You can get different angles in the bars.

                                Often (but not always!) a TB might need a 'built up' pad to make up for the lack of muscling/bulk right at/behind the withers. I prefer cutback if I have to get built up. I *just* scored a good built up Cashel pad for the Silly Filly, and will be cutting it up when it arrives, so it has a good cutback wither.

                                Beware 'cheap', though good used isn't bad. It's crucial the tree SHAPE is right for the horse, then if it's a titch wide, you pad up. But if the tree shape is wrong, not only is the horse going to be miserable, but *especially* a BOY is going to be miserable in the seat, as it's going to put him on the wrong *parts* so to speak.
                                InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

                                Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by SarahandSam View Post
                                  Wintec western saddles are crap. I have a Big Horn cordura trail saddle, which is actually pretty good quality for the money, in my opinion. I replaced the nylon cinch strap and fittings with leather ones.
                                  Ditto this. Go Big Horn if you are looking at synthetics. Try TackTrader.com for used ones.
                                  ...somewhere between the talent and the potato....


                                  • #18
                                    I am a very secure Western rider and very insecure English rider. With my young horse that I will eventually ride English, I have done all his training in a Western saddle with an English bridle. I've also trained him using a Western shanked bit to neck rein, so he can be ridden both English and Western. When I am sure he is firm on his basics, I will ride him English. To me, it does not matter if you mix saddle/bridle styles. Whatever makes sense to you! Of course, that doesn't fly for shows, but sounds like you're not to that point anyway. For Western saddles, see if you can try a bunch out, just like English saddles. They all sit different and feel different, just like English. Good luck - sounds like you're headed in the right direction!


                                    • #19
                                      Big Horn and Abetta are two synthetics I really like. Fabtrons are a bit pricey.

                                      I would go see what style he likes to ride in. I really prefer barrel type saddles for the comfort.

                                      Western saddle seat measurements are about 2" smaller than english from my experience. You will most likely want a semi quarter horse bar saddle for the narrow horse. Try what you can on him.

                                      Circle Y, Simco, Big Horn, Bona Allen, Billy Cook, Nathan Lamb and Dakota are brands I'd look into.

                                      ETA: I have two Nathan Lambs and both fit high and narrow TB's, but they are expensive and hard to find used.
                                      To be loved by a horse, or by any animal, should fill us with awe-
                                      for we have not deserved it.
                                      Marion Garretty


                                      • Original Poster

                                        There's a 16" Circle Y at a local tack shop on consignment. Includes the cinch, pad and bridle for about $700. It had a big horn in front and they said it looked like a roping saddle. It is in nice shape, seems to be good leather and was quite comfy to sit on in the shop. They said I could take it on trial. It was a lot more comfortable than the other used saddles or the new synthetic saddles that were there.

                                        Would a 'roping' saddle be o-kay just to trail ride in (yikes, that sounds like a dumb question!)? Does this sound like a good price for a second hand saddle? I'm not in any rush to buy and there is another shop in the area that sells western saddles on consignment, so I am interested to learn. Thanks again for all the info!