Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Random Thoughts About Saddles

No bids on my saddle yet, but I have 10 watchers and I'm convinced someone will start the bidding soon! Isn't it pretty?

I have a love-hate relationship with this saddle.
I've been trying to decide what to get next. Other than needing a saddle that fits Lilly and is comfortable for me, I'm pretty sure I know what I'm looking for, I just don't know where to find it.

She has such a short back that I've decided I don't want a saddle with a skirt length longer than 26". Both of my western saddles are 28" and they are way too long for her. I think that might be part of our problem because I can't really place the saddle where I want on her back because there's only so much room. That wouldn't explain my english saddle issues, of course, but it drives me crazy having a skirt that long. I'm not sure I can get shorter than 26" unless I get a barrel type saddle, which I'm not interested in getting, so I'd like to start out at 26" and see how it fits.

I also want something that can be a work saddle and a show saddle. We're far from western pleasure, but if I'm buying a pricey, custom saddle, it would be nice to be able to use it in the future for showing as well. So a little silver would be good, but I don't need a bunch of tooling that requires me to get out the toothbrush to clean it up every Sunday.

Not too many requirements, I know. I just want something that fits Lilly, fits me, and looks nice enough to show in. Shouldn't be hard, right?

Most of the equitation style saddles I've found are done up to be show saddles. Roping saddles usually have wrapped horns, cutting saddles have a pretty high horn height, and barrel saddles have a high horn and a high cantle. The all around saddles tend to look like trail saddles, so that really only leaves reining style saddles...

So in my search for a new reining saddle for my non-reining horse, I was pointed in the direction of Rocking R saddles as a good place to start (along with all of your suggestions as well). What really caught my eye and fit the bill was the Rocking R 852 reining saddle.

It has a 26" skirt and they do everything custom, so I can have the leather a different color and the seat a different color. It has a fiberglass reinforced wood tree, which means nothing to me at this point in my research, but some of the saddles can be made with a flex-tree, so that might be something I'll need to look into. I have no idea how much it costs (but similar saddles were selling on other sites for around $1400), but I figure I'll have to spend a fair amount of hard earned cash to get a nice saddle.

I've had it in the back of my mind that I also need to get a new english saddle. Because I'm selling my western show saddle I've been focused on replacing that, but I started giving it a bit more thought today.  I should probably get a new english saddle before I replace my western one, you know, since we show english and not western. :)

There's a saddle fitter not far from me, but she only does english saddles. I can haul Lilly up there and they'll find one that fits her, then let me ride in those, and determine which one of those I like best. Too bad they don't sell western saddles!

I mentioned my saddle problems to a friend of mine today and told her I was thinking about replacing my Collegiate with a Pessoa. I saw one for sale at the tack place where I'll take Lilly to be fitted, but she wrinkled her nose at me. She said the new ones aren't made like they used to be and I should look at getting a Tad Coffin or a Hermes.

"Okay," I said. "I'll check those out."

HOLY GEEZE! I can tell she's not spending her money because the Tad Coffin is $4,500 and the Hermes is $6,100! I think I'll look for a nice, used Stubben instead.  Even used those saddles are probably out of my price range.

In any case, the search for a nice western saddle is on hold because right now the english saddle takes priority. My first show is March 5th, so I need someone to buy my Circle Y saddle! :)


  1. I cannot imagine spending $6,000 on a saddle. Ever. Not that I wouldn't if I had the spare cash just lying around, but there will NEVER be a time in my life when I can justify spending that. Woof.

    Did you email them yet?

  2. If I had the money I'd be watcher # 11. :)

    Maybe if you get an english saddle fit to her back, they'll tell you about her back and what she needs, so you can carry that information over to fitting a western?

    I know I'm going to be going through the same stuff when Odie's done growing... I can just feel it. lol

  3. I can dream about spending $6k on a saddle, but then I'd be terrified to ride in it... what happens if it gets a scratch or Lilly rakes me across a tree??

    I haven't emailed them yet, but I was thinking of waiting until after I go to the english saddle fitter and see what they say about her back and withers and stuff. It might help me not sound like I'm clueless, even though I am. :)

    Don't you want to buy it, Dom? Ozzy would love it! :)

    That's what I'm thinking too, DIJ. If I know what type of english saddle fits her, it should at least help me when shopping for a western saddle. English saddles are just so nice because you can get them flocked and padded...

    You mentioned Odie and the fact that he's still growing, so that's another thing to worry about too! When Lilly is in shape and has muscle tone again, the fit of the saddle will be different. That's why I'm thinking some kind of flex tree is a must for western.

    Why can't she be one of those horses that can wear any kind of saddle and be happy? :)

  4. Having gone through a major saddle-fit issue with my barrel horse, may I ask what exactly seems to be the problem with your western saddle? Does it slide back? Slide forward? Not want to stay centered?

  5. Oh the thought of saddle fitting makes me twitch....I had such problems finding a trail saddle for Jetta that I finally gave in and got a treeless. I have to say, it was perfect for us. Maybe something to look into for you?

    So, when I started looking into dressage saddles I got all twitchy again but was pleasantly surprised to find something rather quickly. Seems that english/dressage saddles in general have a much bigger variety in sizing. Good luck!

  6. Having been through the saddle fitting thing with my "princess and the pea" gelding, I can tell you that a good saddle fitter is REALLY worth the money. Since the English saddle fitter is local, I'd go with her first. She should take measurements and tracings of Lily's back and should be able to explain to you if she's flat-backed, short-backed, etc. Different saddles fit differently because the trees are built on different curves and with different lengths. It's also important to know where the girth should lie on your horse.

    My current guy is super-flat backed with a long back and high withers, and he has this hollow right behind his withers - many saddles end up pulling forward and pinching him there, causing him to throw his head when ridden. So I need a really flat-treed saddle with TB panels in the front to keep his withers clear. The sweet spot for the girth is about 12 inches (!!!) back from his elbow, so finding a saddle where the billets hang in a straight line pointing toward that spot was really important so the saddle didn't get pulled forward up on his withers.

    Anyway, point is, a good fitter should be able to tell you all these things about Lily and make recommendations on specific saddles that should work. Hopefully she also has some nice saddles in your price range that work for Lily!

  7. Your saddle is pretty, I hope it sells and that you get a good price for it!

    The other saddle you posted is very pretty!! I really like it and I think that $1400.00 is a pretty good price (I'm comparing it to the price of Dale Chavez and Circle Y - and I think this saddle looks just as nice).

  8. I forgot to comment about the Hermes! ;). WAY TOO EXPENSIVE. You can have a nice saddle custom built for far less than that. My goodness! I do have to say though, I bet that Hermes saddle is like riding on a little slice of heaven...I better not EVER get my fanny into one! LOL

  9. Ive noticed that a new trend seems to be that additional hunk of leather right ahead of the fender, personally, I see nobenefit to that addition especially in a reining saddle. So for me, I dont like that one at all, it seems it would only reduce your leg contact. Ive seen them on barrel saddles, but just dont "get" it for reining ones...

    Seems that getting a new english saddle is a good first route, and Iwill state again the greatness of getting a saddle fitter to help you out.

  10. I LOVE a good Rocking R saddle! You should also look into Dakota saddles. I don't know what I would do without my Dakota...its a cutting saddle and doesn't have a lick of silver on it but you are welcome to try it.

    Dakota does have 4-5 saddles that are cheaper and made cheaper but they are a quality line with brand new saddles around $1000.

  11. Cowgirls, the biggest problem with the saddle is that Lilly will suddenly just stop moving. We'll be walking along and she'll start kind of staggering around like she doesn't want to move her shoulders, and then she'll start shaking her head and twitching her withers. I won't be able to get her to move forward again. I've had her do this with both western saddles and also my hunt seat saddle. I thought I had her going pretty good after I bought a lift pad for her withers (both for my western and my english saddle) but when I took her trail riding the other day she started doing the stagger thing again, even with the lift pads.

    Thanks Jetta! I'll have to find something that I can still use for showing, but I'm thinking flex tree at least. I'll check into the treeless and see what styles they have.

    Sounds like your gelding is as complicated as Lilly, jenj! I'm impressed that you were able to find a saddle to fit him. I think taking her to the saddle fitter is my best bet, that way I can find out what's going on and what I need to get. It should definitely help me with finding a western saddle too.

    JJ, we could go in halves on a Hermes! Then we only need to cough up $3k each! :)

    Milo, I never really noticed that other piece of leather until you pointed it out... I'm not sure I'd like it either without being able to sit in it and see how it changes the feel.

    Oooh!! Alex!! I'll definitely take you up on that... I'd love to see one in person and see how it fits Lilly. Where did you get yours?

  12. Hmmm...well I'm no help at all then, because I've never had a horse do that. Interesting. You will definitely have to tell us what the saddle fitter has to say.

    As to wondering about the flap on the reining saddle, essentially they are there to neaten up the appearance as they cover the D and latigo. They do also help the fender flow freely so moving your legs is more effortless. Reiner's especially since they need to push their feet so far forward for their sliding stops. Since under the bottom skirt is cut out and the addition of that flap is between the bottom skirt and mostly in front of the fender, they don't add any additional bulk and do not interfere with normal leg aids.

  13. Great! Just let me know when you have time on a weekend and we will get together so you can play with it. I found mine in a tack shop famous for their used saddles....I can't remember the name but know where it is and have the guy's number. Its about 3 - 3.5 hrs from here though. We can call and see what he has in stock.....he is good about trading too.

  14. It's always something with Lilly, Cowgirls. It's almost like it hurts her to move. It boggles my mind, though, because some days she's fine and other days there's just no helping her.

    What you said about that flap makes perfect sense! I can see how that might be helpful for reiners.

    I will definitely be in touch, Alex! I need to get my english stuff squared away but I definitely want to see yours before I buy one... and go to that saddle shop too!

  15. Looks like a great saddle. Very pretty and comfortable also. I am glad to know that you find a good saddle.
    horse saddle shop