Talk to me about Western saddles

Jane&Ziggy

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I think Ziggy would be a lovely pony to ride Western. I have a real yen for it, I think it would suit our easygoing style.

But I am scared of buying a Western saddle for him. They are very expensive compared to English ones, and they are such big heavy things and I fear the wrong fit.

He is a short backed, very wide native pony with big shoulders. He currently wears a 17" Kent & Masters Cob XW GP saddle. I would ideally like him in a saddle half an inch or so shorter but he's fine in the 17".

Those of you who ride Western, what saddle do you have?

Has anyone asked their horse to go Western as well as English?

If I bought a treed saddle, what size would I be looking for? Would full Quarter Horse bars give enough width for him?

Do any of you have a Western treeless? Freemax, Arizona and Startrekk all make them and I wonder if they would be a less risky option?

Anything else that you think? Lots of questions!
 

ponylover88

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Jul 12, 2004
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I can't help you but I'm interested in this too. I've always been interested in trying it, even said to Gem on Sunday 'how about if I sell both your saddles and buy you a western'
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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If the N R archives still exist, you could find a detailed account of a friend of mine buying a saddle from the USA. Measuring properly. She got the imitation leather one which is lighter but even so, it weighs a ton to lift onto the horse, compared with an English saddle. It is really important not to have a Western too long for the horse. Treeless or endurance style might be better and one of my USA friends bought one from Germany.
Like you I hankered after Western and riding a quarter horse. It was said to be more secure for an ancient rider,so the day may yet come! but the cost and the culture being so different here put me off trying that in the UK. It is tho perfectly possible to mooch along with the reins in one hand in a UK bridle. My OH learned to ride like that and the ponies from the polo yard are ridden that way too. You only have to watch the girls texting and using their mobiles as they ride to know that one handed riding is easily adopted by anyone who needs to keep the other hand free.
 

Jane&Ziggy

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It is tho perfectly possible to mooch along with the reins in one hand in a UK bridle.

I already do! In fact I was doing so this morning to both of our pleasures. And then my friend's trainer, a little skinny toothless chap who rode Ziggy the other day, said to me what a nice stocky little horse he was, just the perfect size, and how good he would look in Western gear, and I just thought...

*off to search the archives*
 

ponylover88

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It is tho perfectly possible to mooch along with the reins in one hand in a UK bridle. My OH learned to ride like that and the ponies from the polo yard are ridden that way too. You only have to watch the girls texting and using their mobiles as they ride to know that one handed riding is easily adopted by anyone who needs to keep the other hand free.
Not quite sure that's the main identifying factor of riding western. I for one do mooch along with my reins in one hand out hacking, however she has a light contact, low head carriage and will work in all 4 paces like this. She is also responsible for about 75% of my local areas sliding stops and roll backs! I can also do this in the school, inc changes of rein and circles etc.

On my youngster however, I have a shorter contact, she needs it for reassurance and guidance.
 

No_Angel

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Apr 20, 2003
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I've had a few treeless western saddles now, Barefoot Arizona, Startrekk Western, Ez Fit and Freemax Western, I also have Sensation Westlish and a Sensation Hybrid which have english saddle flaps and a western style seat (without the horn).

My horses go both Western and English, I have found that the western training has improved their responsiveness to the aids and so that improves our English, I do tend to ride mostly like a cross between English and Western style these days.
 

Mary Poppins

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I recently learnt how to neck rein Ben and it's a real fun way of riding. He took to that style much more quickly that the traditional English outline. It's a shame that you can't have a dressage competition which is all about neck reining, we would win!
 

horseandgoatmom

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Dec 3, 2014
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I ride mainly western.
I have a few western Saddles.
My favorite all time western is a Tucker GEN II High Plains Trail--
It totally puts my leg in a correct alignment position- I did have it altered a bit for me with short
fenders etc because I am short.
It is such a pleasure to have my leg just be in the right place.
It is not horribly heavy compared to some.
There are some hybrid part leather part cordura on the fenders etc that are even lighter and
decent too Fabtron and Big Horn have them.
My go to is the Tucker hands down.

One big thing Make sure the stirrups are turned and wrapped- pay extra for it if need be-
its well worth it -- you will not get stress or strain on your knees with the stirrups wanting to
turn flat against the horse and I even had it done on my Fabtron with the cordura fenders.

For a really nice "cowboy" saddle a wade is nice but even the lighter ones are still heavy.

For barrel racing etc circle Y make some nice ones.

Trail stirrups are also nice they have a nice wide base and are very cushony- but you can also add
stirrup cushions to regular stirrups.

Some have a double ring option to give you more choice when girthing - to be a bit further back or front
or more center.

You can see how the stirrup is in correct position here
232323232fp93232-ydnjthgqubwsnrcgu934=ot-2;78=;28=82;=3-87;2873-327nu0mrj.jpg
That goes a long way towards comfort
 

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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Jess can do both. She fitted the Circle Y tree shape best in the end but I have owned quite a few brands for her and other horses, in her 5 year old year I had to import 6 different saddles (brands) as she kept changing shape!

First to say is that English and western saddles are measured differently so don't fall into the trap of thinking you would need a 17" western saddle, you are far more likely to need a 15" or 16" (western is measured from the center back of the fork to the center back of the seat, but the depth of seat/style can really change how a saddle feels to ride in, I have ridden everything from 13" - 16" pretty happily though I have an 18" English saddle). They also don't fit the same, the skirting extends well beyond the bars in most cases which makes them physically much longer though it is not all weight bearing, generally Arab's or Arab X need a round skirted saddle so the corners of the skirts don't catch on the hips though very short backed horses can be very hard to fit in western. Full quarter horse bars refers to the angle of the bar (all manufacturers vary but it might be around 95 degrees), not the width of the gullet, you could get a FQHB with a 6" gullet which would be narrow with very upright bars probably only suitable for riding a plank of wood in ;) or a FQHB in a 9" gullet made for the super wide sprung rib (draft) type horse, so in short the bar angle relates to the angle of the back and the gullet to the width, and you also have to consider how much bar flare you need to allow the saddle to sit over the scapula. As there is no room for adjustment with flocking you have to get it pretty spot on, though the pad you use can give tiny adjustments (you can expect to pay $150-200 for a decent pad on top of your saddle).

If anyone fancies a day out there's a couple of western shows at the yard I used to livery at, as I know everyone there I can happily show you different saddles etc. and explain the events to you, its very low key there and no one would mind at all :D sadly I don't have any western saddles any more as Jess developed a girthyness with them that disappeared when I used an English saddle, my plan going forward will be to try and get a half decent treeless western I can do low key stuff in with her just for fun.

It's a shame that you can't have a dressage competition which is all about neck reining, we would win!
Reining is often referred to as high speed dressage here as a kind of translation to explain the class is, most maneuvers are done at a lope (canter) of varying speeds (collected is simply called slow and fast is working/extended), apart from the stops or turns :D
 
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Jane&Ziggy

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I've had a few treeless western saddles now, Barefoot Arizona, Startrekk Western, Ez Fit and Freemax Western, I also have Sensation Westlish and a Sensation Hybrid which have english saddle flaps and a western style seat (without the horn).

My horses go both Western and English, I have found that the western training has improved their responsiveness to the aids and so that improves our English, I do tend to ride mostly like a cross between English and Western style these days.

That's a good selection of saddles! Which did you rate most?
 

Jane&Ziggy

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@Jessey thank you so much, what a helpful reply! This is clearly not an area where I could buy a second hand saddle and hope.

If you're serious about a trip to your yard I would love to do it, will you let me know when the Western shows are? I would learn so much from being with an experienced person!
 
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No_Angel

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That's a good selection of saddles! Which did you rate most?

I liked the Startrekks a lot, but found the wade style swell didn't suit me as well on my current girl. The Freemax Western was very traditional looking and feeling, it was fairly heavy (not as heavy as a treed saddle though). For me personally I prefer the saddles without a solid pommel as I get a bit paranoid about fit, which is why I like my Sensations, plus I have the bonus of knee rolls and a swell.
 

Jessey

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@Jessey thank you so much, what a helpful reply! This is clearly not an area where I could buy a second hand saddle and hope.

If you're serious about a trip to your yard I would love to do it, will you let me know when the Western shows are? I would learn so much from being with an experienced person!
Yes absolutely, I will get dates and let you know :)

I liked the look of the freemax from a showing perspective as they look very traditional but I've heard quite a lot of rumblings about pressure point issues which put me off trying one.
 

Jane&Ziggy

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Looking at the net I saw the issues about pressure points with the Freemax also, plus points for their appearance - they can be used in Western Pleasure showing apparently.

I liked the Startrekks a lot, but found the wade style swell didn't suit me as well on my current girl. The Freemax Western was very traditional looking and feeling, it was fairly heavy (not as heavy as a treed saddle though). For me personally I prefer the saddles without a solid pommel as I get a bit paranoid about fit, which is why I like my Sensations, plus I have the bonus of knee rolls and a swell.

Please @No_Angel , what is a swell???
 

Jessey

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Its the hoopy bit under the horn, they come in lots of different shapes, another thing that can change the way a saddle rides :D
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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Jane I have found the thread with the name of the Western synthetic saddle in which I rode.

http://www.newrider.com/community/threads/knees-hurting-riding-in-western-saddle.232512/page-2

Knowledgeable people on this thread -have you any idea what this other saddle might be? It is the one I mentioned which probably came from Germany but I never had a name for it, nor did the owner. OH is looking to see if we have a pic of the saddle without a rider in it.

DSCN1147.jpg
DSCN1147.jpg
[/URL][/IMG]
 
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