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.