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Western Saddles - A Brief Survey

Aug 11, 2008
Trail Saddles

The most popular type of saddle, trail saddles are designed for comfort over rough terrain and many miles. Designed for comfort they are lighter than ranch or roping saddles which are designed for heavier work. New materials and features often appear in trail saddles first due to their popularity. Some features include an easy to hold thin horn, a higher fork for stability, a deeply recessed cantle for comfort, wider stirrups treads and padded seats. Rounded or cut out skirts may also be present to further reduce the weight.

Ranch Saddles

Ranch saddles, also called buckaroo, cowboy or old time are heavy weight saddles designed for heavy work. Made for long hours in the saddle and for functionality around the ranch they may include comfortable deep seats, low swells to be out of the way when working and thick horns. Other features include plate rigging for better strength, a high cantle, double rigging and rope straps.

Roping Saddles

Designed for freedom of movement these saddles are made for heavy duty. Maximum freedom while roping and chasing cows is ensured by the saddle tree design and the strong horn. A wooden saddle tree covered with bull hide, a rounded low fork, double rigging and a deep suede or rough leather covered saddle all contribute to the ease of use while working. High cantles allow easy mounting and dismounting and the stirrups are forward hung to help the balance.

Cutting saddles

For cutting out single cows from the heard, cutting saddles were developed. A cutting saddle needs to endure good balance for the rider during extreme turning, starting and stopping maneuvers. Features include easy gripping with a tall thin horn, long flat seats, slim stirrups, low cantles and forward hanging fenders for extra balance.

Reining Saddles

For reining sporting events a purpose designed reining saddle is ideal. These saddles need very close contact between horse and rider for ease of execution of circling, spinning and sliding stop maneuvers. Subtle communication between horse and rider is ensured by the close contact which, if properly carried out will not be seen by the spectators. Because of the close contact reining saddles are also popular as training saddles.

Endurance Saddles

For competitions involving long rides of up to 100 miles, endurance saddles are needed. They must be light weight and well made to stand up to the long miles of riding. Bulk must be minimised while at the same time maximising close contact. In addition for the long hours in the saddle they must be comfortable for both rider and horse. Because they are designed for comfort they are also becoming popular for trail riding. They feature comfortable padded seats, no horns, lower weight short skirts, deep stirrups and multiple saddle strings for your gear.

Show Saddles

Show saddles, unlike the other types are designed primarily for their looks in the horse show arena. Fashion is important and designs change frequently. Ornate and deep tooling and decorative silver ornamentation are used extensively on show saddles. Designed for good looks rather than work these saddles follow fashions and change accordingly. For show saddles the latest fashion is important! Other features include deep skirts for more decoration turned stirrups with silver trims, and padded seats.
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For more information and some good deals in new and used saddles check out Used Saddle Sale or Used Western Saddles
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