Monday, October 6, 2008


There has been a lot of discussion about saddles on the posts lately. We all need one in some form or another ( even you sometimes Mikey!) I am not an expert by any means- but I do recognize quality when I see it, and I have been around enough to know what makes for a good saddle! I don't ride English- but I imagine you all need a whole lot of the same things as in a Western saddle.
1. a good tree.

2. good leather.

3. quality hardware.

4. fit

5. function

6. style.

These first two saddles were made by my friend Dana Alden from R6 Leathers in Roque River Oregon. Can you see how the leather is cut and stitched around the swell? See how the horn post comes through the swell and is actually a separate piece? All the decoration is hand stamped with one tool. If you look closely you can also see the rigging is set under the seat, under the jockey, supporting the entire seat. No way for it to come undone. The wool is just that- real wool fleece. This seat happens to be made from Ostrich, but you can see that it is sewn down.
This saddle is a Bob's reiner. Not fancy at all- no silver. But it is a good quality leather, the hardware is not cheap, the Front D ring is riveted and sewn into the under skirt. The bottom skirt has been cut away under the fender, giving the rider much more freedom to use their legs to position the horse. You can just see the wool peeking from under the skirt, and it comes with a leather latigo. Usually no back cinch is necessary in reining, but the D ring is there anyway. This saddle could be used for training or trail or reining.

The saddle to the left is Bob's Show saddle. It is very fancy- from the sterling silver on the corners to the fancy cut of the Jockey. It has an in -skirt rigging, which is the flattest rig you can get, it stays under your leg and you don't feel it. A back D ring is present, but since you don't use a back cinch in a WP show, it is also engraved. All the major stress points are sewn,and also screwed into the tree with silver conchos. All of the edges of the leather have been hand finished,and sewn. All of the stitches are even and tight, especially across the cantle. The horn is a separate piece, though the swell leather has been formed, not sewn and shrunk. This saddle runs about $3000.
Well made saddles are not cheap- but just like in the 'old days' when a saddle usually cost more than the horses a cowboy rode, a well made saddle will hold its' value for a long long time. They are certainly worth the investment.


Amanda said...

I just recently had a custom made saddle from Allegany Mountain Saddles. It is made on a Steele tree and is a cross between a Wade and a plantation saddle of all things. I have a really bad knee and the western fenders were terrible at making my knee stiff and sore. Now I have English type leathers. It is awesome and woth every dime i spent on it. It was also made to fit my gaited horse. The whole experience was great and my saddle is beautifully made and unique!

Mikey said...

Good post, gorgeous saddles!
I do like to ride bareback, but I like a saddle too. I guess I just don't want to lose the balance I had as a kid. I'm trying to hang on to that part of me. Gets harder as you get older, I'm seeing, lol

Vaquerogirl said...

Amaanda- I'd love to see a picture of your saddle!

Mikey- I ride bareback too- for exactly the same reason! It does get harder though the older you get (I'm over 50)Mostly just getting UP there is difficult!

Adventures Of A Horse Crazed Mind said...

I have been riding in three different Bobs over the past 5 years (a Randy Paul, a Bob Avila and now I have a cowhorse). I LOVE them. Once you get use to a quality saddle, you cant go back. On a few occasions my saddle went on the back of a horse that was worth less than it. Kinda sad. The good ones are expensive but they last and hold their value.

Mrs Mom said...

Thank You, for the tutorial here and at 20M's blog. I never really thought much about quality, just stuck to the "brand names" of things. Now, I will be darn sure to look much, much closer at things, and will refer back here when I have questions!

Looking forward to more learning here!

Train Wreck said...

Great photos of gorgeous saddles!! And that web is pretty as lon as there is no spider!! he he!1

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Very nice!!

I tell ya, trying to find a barrel saddle that fits a horse well is difficult. When you find one you never let it go.;)

Last Christmas my mom got me the greatest gift EVER, a pair of "crooked stirrups". I have always had problems with my knees when I ride in the pasture. It never mattered what saddle I used. Now, when I head out for a long ride-I use the saddle with those on and no more sore knees. I love those things. I see they make fancy ones for show saddles too.

Anonymous said...

What a good post. I am recommending it to the Pony cousins for their information. The photos are really interesting as to the differences in the cut of the tree and the unique nature of each.

C-ingspots said...

Great post and beautiful saddles - I like that first one especially. We have a custom made saddle a friend of ours in Battle Ground Washington made. It's quite unique and has a blue seat. Maybe I'll figure out how to download pics and have you take a peak at it sometime, if you're willing. I always hear people commenting about a Wade saddle - I always thought that was a tree type, not a saddle. ?? Thanks for the info.