Sunday, February 27, 2011

Saddle Search - Part III

Junior is enjoying his rest. He was up to more shenanigans in turnout this morning and came in with a new cut on his neck... just another one of the countess he's had. I've stopped worrying about those. They heal. No one will ever be able to make boots out of him, that's for sure. He did seem overly cuddly today though, and stood with his head over his gate and let me clip his goat beard off and clean up the outside of his ears and acted like he enjoyed it.

On to the saddle saga...

I am on a path to a saddle. I may yet switch paths, but here's where I think I'm headed....

Rod's carries some Rocking R saddles. They have Steele brand fiberglass reinforced wood trees, and are made in the USA by hand, one at a time, are hand tooled and have stainless steel hardware. When I first was saddle shopping way back in September of '08 I nearly bought one of their training saddles. My trainer had one and loved it. I liked the look and feel of it. The tack salesman highly recommended them. The only reason I decided NOT to buy it was because I was able to purchase a used and MUCH cheaper saddle along with the horse. I was actually under the impression that Rocking R meant Rocking Rod's, I now know better. I personally know two people who have their saddles and love them, our friends over at Cedar View Paints spoke very highly of their Rocking R Reining saddle, and the very cute cowboy I met this morning at Rod's has one that he loves, too.

I am attracted to the different designs they have. I think they make a good looking saddle and those that I have felt and sat in are of very high quality. It's going to be heavier than my current training saddle, but quality sometimes makes it heavier.

I'm essentially ordering a custom saddle through Rod's. Because I need a shorter skirt length, my options are somewhat limited as far as saddles go. I'm not sure yet how short I need to go, but I know that 29" is too long. They can make this saddle shape, which is a 27" skirt and that seems about as short as I can find without being a barrel or gaited saddle:

But in this design/tooling and a suede seat:

And it'll still be a price that's within my budget. I'm waiting to see if they can get the former in stock within a week for me to take home and try since they just added it to their web inventory in the last few days, but don't have any currently in the wearhouse. If they can't get one within the week, I'll take one of their other saddles for a test ride and make a guess on the skirt size. All of their reining saddles and training saddles are with the same tree/seat configuration so if one of those fits us, the one we order should as well.

A few things to consider: Seat Size & Color. I asked the nice fella to take a picture of me in the 15" seat and in the 16" seat. I know that seat size is more about feel than looks, but I'd like some opinions. Can you even tell a difference and which looks better. I thought the 15 felt fine, but so did the 16. I'm leaning towards the 15 because my 16 Circle Y felt huge. I had a bout 4 fingers comfortably between my thigh and cantle on the 16 but could still get 4 fingers in the 15, just touching my thigh.

I suppose I could have smiled or something....

Can you even tell a difference? I'm not sure if I can even remember which was which. I think the 2nd one is the 15.

Next is color. I want to use the saddle for small open shows (maybe a small breed show someday), occasional trail riding, schooling, and Cowboy Challenges. The light is the clear favorite of show saddles in Stock Horse breeds. Will I look like a newb if I have a darker saddle? Should I get the Light (the 2736)? Will I be afraid to "hurt" or stain the light? Or should I get darker?

Thanks to the wonders of photoshop, here's a guess (lighting could be different in each picture so it's a guess) at how they'll look on Junior and with my black outfit...

Again, I like the first one better, but will I look out of place in the show ring with all the light saddles?

They take 6 weeks to make so the sooner I order the better. My first shows are on May 7th and 8th and I'd like to have a few rides in it before then. This means that I need to order it March 12th at the very latest. The sooner the better, but not sooner than I can make an informed decision.

And if I take one home and ride in it and don't like it, well, then we'll head down a different path.

Hobby Horse just launched their own line of show saddles and I'm really excited to see they have two versions without silver corner plates. They call them "understated." Luckily, my big bay roan Overo Paint usually sticks out in a ring really well by himself and I don't need shocking colors or twinkly lights to help the judge remember us.... though sometimes it might be better if they did miss a few things...

Anyway, any thoughts about color, size, the saddle I like, etc.? Pour it on.


  1. If you switch....I better not have to ride your ass about helmets! LOL. ;-)

    I have no opinion about western saddles, sorry.

  2. I just don't love light oiled saddles. Just not a huge fan, but that's just me personally. So, obviously, I'm for the dark saddle. To me, it looks like you'd be swimming in the 16". Really, it's just a matter of once's personal preference, though...Swimming in a saddle is never fun, especially if your investing a lot of money, but it's also no fun to feel like your being pinched and squeezed in the saddle.

  3. @eventer79: Not really a switch. I've been doing both for years. Though I started riding hunt seat in the very beginning, the older I get the more I like the slower pace and more comfortable western saddle. And I'm sorry to admit, I don't wear my helmet when I show western, but I do wear it when I trail ride and do the cowboy challenges.
    @mare: I don't really love them either, but I don't hate them. I'm undecided at this point.

  4. I have a Rocking R - it's an all around - the 1124 or 1158 - can't remember which. I love it - I was able to get short fenders for my stumpy little legs. It was probably one of the best horse purchases I've made. I went with a chestnut colour because I don't show. I got the suede seat and it is nice - went with the black for some contrast.

    A light oil saddle looks good to show in, but I would be scared about marking it up if I used it for other things...but that is just me.

  5. When I placed my custom saddle, I was told that seat goes off of your thigh size, not actual "seat" size. With that being said, I think you should go with the 15". As far as color, I would pick the "darker" one because firsly they are easier to maintain and since you will be riding in it all the time, you wont have to worry about staining it too bad, and secondly, I like them better! :) Keep us updated, it sounds like our saddles should be arriving to us at about the same time!

  6. I agree with what pretty much everyone else says.

    Personally I prefer dark oils and I think as time goes by you will and I have seen a trend swinging back to them for showing as well. Most people just don't have enough money these days to have both and a light oil is not a practical every day use saddle. A dark oil is easier to maintain and I think I like the look of it on JR better, the color tone of brown matches his coat better and does not contrast as much, he could do either but as you are trying to tone it down the dark might be better. You can always add a pair of shiny aluminum stirrups or a sparky blanket. My saddle has conchos that are only put on when I am in the ring, I don't care if people see the little holes when I am trail riding.

    Yes you are supposed to size a saddle based upon your thigh length, if you sit in a saddle and measure from butt to knee this is the length you use but I do not remember what length corresponds to what seat size. I am guessing you would probably do better in a 15" I am 5'10" and ride in a 15.5 or 16" depending on the saddle. Get what feels the most comfortable to you.

    I do know a lot of the cowboy challenge type events actually frown on the glitzy light oil and silver encrusted saddles. We have a state branch of the ranch horse show association and you cannot even show a horse with a silver halter, most just use a plain well fitted leather.

    The only thing I can say is yes most definitely a suede seat much easier to stay in. :)

  7. Love your face in the second picture! "Hmmm..." :)

    Regarding seat size, if the 15" doesn't feel too small I think you should go with the 15". It doesn't seem like an inch could make such a difference, but it really does!

    Based on looks alone, I like how the dark saddle looks on Junior, but I think you could go either way if you wanted the light oil. Did you see one of the light oil saddles in person while you were there?

    I want a Rod's in my neighborhood!!

    Oh, and why isn't there a picture of the cute cowboy? :)

  8. Whoa, did ya check out the mullet of the dude walking by? Mega-mullet. He must use Prell shampoo on that beastie.