The Western Saddle

Welcome to cowgirlslife! my western saddle page, Hope you find this page to be very informative!

In the Life of a cowgirl a western saddle is an essential piece of tack. When purchasing one choose carefully, quality is important. If you are planning to spend long days in it then comfort, fit and being functional, is first and foremost to both you and your horse. There are a few different styles and all have a part to play in the cowgirls ranch life, or chosen sport.

Pleasure or Trail comfort is the main goal, it is designed specifically for pleasure. It is lighter in weight than roper's or cutter's, usually has a padded seat, wide stirrup tread for stability and comfort, higher fork for keeping you secure in the seat, thinner horn and the fenders are positioned underneath the cowgirls body, to aid in placing the rider in the correct position. Pleasure's are a popular choice for many cowgirls, they come a various styles, with a wide variety of trees, seats, swells and skirt types.

Here is a picture of my own personal saddle the "Honey Bird", it was made for me by John Allington.

The Roper is a great choice for the hard working cowgirl, designed for demanding use and maximum freedom of movement for the rider, the cowgirl can easily chase, rope and dally a cow to the horn, to be able to withstand this treatment the roper must have a strong tree and horn. Typical features of the roper preferably include a wooden tree with a bullhide cover for extra strength, tall thick horn with a horn wrap for dallying, low cantle for dismounting ease, suede padded seat are preferred to give more grip, rounded fork, stirrups hung a bit more forward than usual to enable the rider to put their feet forward, bracing against the stirrups when necessary, wide deep roper style stirrups. The roper will be heavier in weight and may have a rope strap for holding the cowgirl's lariat.

The Reiner is designed to optimize the horse's balance, agility and freedom of movement. The reining event is precise patterns of circles, breathtaking spins and the effortless sliding stops. Reining is designed to show the athletic ability of a ranch type horse. The reiner will place the cowgirl in the proper, balanced position and aid in keeping the rider out of the horse's way. Typical features of the reiner include, cutout skirts to enhance the level of communication between the horse and rider, medium height horn and fork to minimize rein interference, shaped seat sits low on the horse's back, free swinging fenders hung from the centre of the tree to improve balance and let the rider's legs move freely, front cinch only, lighter in weight than the roping saddle, rough out seat, fenders and side jokey's for extra grip, high cantle for security and narrow stirrups to help hold the foot in place. Silver trim is common to add some bling at the competitions.

The Barrel Racer is for the rodeo cowgirl! These are designed with speed in mind, they are the smallest and the lightest of the western types. Skirts are minimized in size and the tree is small and lightweight. The barrel racer's seat is constructed with a relatively flat seat, providing the rider ease of movement to balance the horse in turns, whereas the cantle and pommel are high giving the rider a secure ride. The barrel racer's horn is tall and narrow so the rider can take firm hold of it. As it is easier to keep a boot in a narrow stirrup, the barrel racer's stirrups have narrow tread. Due to the likelihood of the stirrup hitting the barrel's edge as the horse and rider cut tightly around it, the stirrups on a barrel racer are often covered with rawhide, which is much more resistant to scrapes and dings. To optimize balance the fenders on saddle are free-swinging for ease of movement so the rider can keep her legs positioned correctly.

A well made Cutter in a cutting event, is a necessity not luxury, designed to correctly position the rider as the cutting horse makes quick, catlike moves, allowing the rider to stay in balance and on top of the action at all times. The seat is flat and the pommel is high and straight allowing the rider to be in contact with the horse while maintaining a relaxed position and preventing him from slipping forward. Free swinging fenders help to balance the rider and keep leg contact off the horse. Stirrups on a cutter are typically narrow oxbow style and are ridden snug against the boot heel. The rider keeps one hand wrapped tightly around the tall thin horn as the horse and steer make unanticipated moves. This is done not only as a security measure but also to prevent the rider from interfering with the horse's movement. The right cutter design ensures the rider can stay in balance and not interfere with the horse's movement.

The Show Saddle is designed to look good rather than working hard, these decorative pieces are for the horse show arena, they tend to be also influenced by the current fashion trend. Typical features include ornate and deep tooling patterns, short horn and fork to avoid interference with the reins, deeper skirts to show off silver tooling, padded seat with the balance point in the centre for a proper riding position, low cantle, silver trim on the skirts and cantle and turned stirrups for a proper line to the rider's leg.

Whatever you decide to choose, comfort and fit are important for both you and your horse. Caring for your saddle is also very important,it is an expensive cowgirls tool, with proper care it can last a lifetime.

Embrace the Cowgirl Spirit! Saddle up a horse and go riding!

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