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How to pick a western saddle?

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  • How to pick a western saddle?

    I've been borrowing a friend's 16" Dale Martin saddle for trail riding. I ride English but lately prefer western on the trail. I was thinking of getting my own. An all around type saddle but mainly for trail riding. I know nothing about chosing a western saddle. Id prefer used.

  • #2
    Oh, jeez, there is so much to consider. I'm not as educated as most on this board, but I'll chip in with what I've learned so far (since I came from similar circumstances, mostly english rider wanting a western trail saddle).

    I learned quickly that I do not like a saddle with forward-hung fenders (western equivalent of stirrup leathers). That will very much put you in a chair seat and make you ride on your pockets like the marlboro man. Not always a bad thing, but definitely not comfy for me on trail rides.

    A hard seat is not necessarily uncomfortable. I have an older simco with a hard seat and an abetta with a super-cushy memory foam seat. The Simco is actually more comfortable because the abetta seat is a little wide and hurts my hips after longer rides.

    I still like to be able to post, so I prefer equitation/slick fork/a fork style saddles, rather than those with big pommels (is it called a pommel on a western saddle? ). Anyway, I definitely hate the ones that are swept-back...they make me feel trapped. The narrow, unobtrusive ones let you post or even get up in 2 point if you want. That's my preference.

    Make sure that you can adjust the stirrups short enough, if you are average height or below. Many have very wide and tooled fenders and can only be shortened to a certain point, even though there are plenty of holes. My older Simco works because the bottom of the fender is tapered down so it is narrow enough you can slide it through the keepers to adjust. Many show saddles have beautiful, heavily tooled fenders that are wide all the way to the stirrup so can't be adjusted.

    I had to google the different rigging options. My Simco is in-skirt, with no back cinch, although it is shorter than most modern saddles and well balanced so it doesn't need one. The abetta is the manta stealth version and it has multiple rigging options which can come in handy.

    I prefer single skirt. Western saddles are very heavy. I have 2 short backed horses and those double skirt models take up the entire back. Roping saddles are extremely heavy. Barrel saddles tend to be more trappy with a higher cantle and deeper seat. Many have very forward hung stirrups, but not all. They can give you a secure feel on the trail, although you may find them claustrophobic. I also prefer roughout jockey and fenders and suede seat for the grip (smooth leather can be slick, although my older simco has good quality leather that isn't slippery).

    Good luck!


    • #3
      My favorite saddle to go on long rides is my Dakota barrel saddle. Light weight, deep seat, fits my horse well, allows for leg movement front and back, and just in general is a comfortable ride.

      Most people ride in a saddle that is to big so they wallow around in it which can not be comfortable. That also tends to put you in a chair seat which you do not want.

      I also prefer a hard seat. Make sure you check width of the seat. My husband has an a-fork that he loves and I hate for just this reason. It is to wide for me so I always feel like a little kid trying to get my legs around my horse.


      • #4
        For starters what kind of saddle is your friends Dale Martin....ranch/wade, cutting, reining, trail, etc? That should help you figure out what style saddle to look for. I ride in a cutting saddle even for trail rides, my daughter a barrel saddle.


        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by quarterhorse4me View Post
          For starters what kind of saddle is your friends Dale Martin....ranch/wade, cutting, reining, trail, etc? That should help you figure out what style saddle to look for. I ride in a cutting saddle even for trail rides, my daughter a barrel saddle.
          She called it an "all around" saddle. I also rode in a friend's older roping saddle On that one I think the seat was too big and it hurt my ankles for some reason.

          How do you determine size and horse fit?

          What is a rough out saddle? Saw this one used locally.
          Last edited by Sparky Boy; Oct. 8, 2012, 03:20 PM.


          • #6
            For starters I would recommend a Circle Y "park and trail saddle." They pop up on ebay all the time and are a good all around western saddle for the price ($500 to $600 used). If it does not meet your needs it should be relatively easy to resell.

            They come in semi-quarter horse or full quarter horse bars. Simply put if you have a TB type (bodied) horse you probably need semi-QH bars and if you have a thicker QH type horse then you probably want full QH bars.