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Types of Western Saddles
 By Winniefield Park   •   29th Apr 2018   •   2,594 views   •   0 comments
People have been using saddles to ride horses for a long time. The first known saddles may have been used by the Sarmations that lived in the vicinity of what is now Iran by about 365 AD. Horses were domesticated much earlier than this so it’s possible, that saddles were used before this, made of hides, wood and bone that may have left little recognizable archeological evidence.

When the Spaniards brought horses to the new world, they also brought saddles. It’s from these Spanish style saddles that the Vaquero’s used to work cattle evolved. The style evolved further to accommodate the hard working lifestyle of the cowboys of the old west. The saddle horn helped hold a roped cattle beast, the various latigo strings held the cowboys bedroll, gun, rope and other gear. The deep seat provided all day comfort and the wide stirrups helped the cowboy balance against the weight of a roped animal.

Older western saddles tend to be narrower and have deeper seats with a very thin upright horn. But, since old-west cowboying has ceased to be a way of life, the western saddle has taken on further refinements depending the specific use. No longer is there a one-style-fits-all western saddle as there were in the days of the old west. Many designs are made to accommodate the specific needs of those competing in rodeo events.

Roping Saddle

Roping Saddle
These saddles are heavy and stable, with a strong tree and a sturdy horn for tying off a roped animal. The seats are of a rough-out or suede so the rider has a good grip. There is double rigging anchored to the saddle tree, so both the front and back cinches help hold the saddle firmly in place against the weight of a roped cow. The cantle is high, the seat deep, and the forks rounded so the rider has a secure, but roomy base.

Reining Saddle

Reining Saddle
These are the close contact saddle of the western world. The stirrups are hung forward, and the seat is made so the rider is sitting back and deep. The horn may be narrower and the fenders move easily. All is designed to give the rider maximum security during sliding stops, spins and fast takeoffs, and the ability to cue the horse without being inhibited. Reining saddles may be decorated with silver hardware.

Cutting Saddle

Cutting Saddle
These saddles made for sports like cutting and team penning appear more ‘upright’ than a roping or reining saddle. The horn is tall and thin, and the swells are high and wide. The cantles are lower and the forks may be narrower and high.

Barrel Racing Saddle

Barrel Racing Saddle
Barrel racing saddles are lightweight and provide a secure seat for the rider who wants maximum maneuverability for the horse. They usually have a deep suede or rough-out seat, high cantle, short skirts, narrow fenders and stirrups and the hind girth is attached to the skirting, not the tree as in a roping saddle.

Working Ranch Saddle

Working Ranch Saddle
These saddles are made for use all day when working cattle. They have sturdy construction and a thick wrapped horn. Both front and hind cinches are attached to the tree. The stirrups and fenders are set up so the riders leg hangs straight down, the seat is generally deep and the cantle is high for comfortable support.

Trail and Pleasure Saddle

Trail and Pleasure Saddle
These are similar to working saddles, but much lighter. They have a variety of features to suit every rider’s taste and comfort needs. They may have more strings to tie your gear too, and rings so you can attach a breast collar to keep the saddle stable over a rough trail.

Show Saddle

Show Saddle
Fads come and go in the showring, but these saddles are designed to make the rider and horse look good. They are often very ornate with carved leather and silver metal fittings. Turned stirrups help the rider maintain good leg position. The horn is short and the skirts are often large, the better to show off fancy tooling.
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