IF I ONLY KNEW THEN WHAT I KNOW NOW!
No really!... because I would have put more value on finding the BEST saddle fit for my horse, which improves performance which in turn helps me not develop bad habits that inhibit my riding!
You are fooling yourselves if you think you can do anything other.
First off, we need to stop listening to our "friends" and seek out professional opinions. Because opinions are like A@@holes.. and everyone has them. Before you know which end is up, someone has talked you into a bad deal for you and your horse. You may at the time think WOW great deal, I didnt know that ... and look I found a great price on this saddle that they said would work!
NOT! NOT! NOT!
You may be able to get away with that a lower levels of your chosen discepline but if you want to really perform well and want to exceed, anti up and buy tack that will last you a lifetime and fit well!
If you dont know, ASK! Ask only qualified persons what would work best for you and your horse.
DONT CHEAP OUT ~ it will cost you... eventually!
HERES YOUR SIGN
NOT EVERYONE FITS INTO A 15" SADDLE DAMMIT!
I know I come from English background, lessons and showing... I have done it all from Western Pleasure to Team Penning to Bridless riding and I know me and what I need, so why would I just take someones word that a 15" PRO RIDER (P.O.S.) would get me to where I was going?
I KNEW BETTER
... yet I still conceeded .... and here I am ... back at the drawing board and years behind schedule trying to undo all the bad habits from bad balance, not to mention gaining weight and getting more out of shape every year.... I am tired of eating dirt in the back forty!
The questions you need to ask yourself is what position does my body need to be in to get the job done. Does this tack pitch me forward, restrict my leg movement, bruise my thighs or legs, does horn jab my guts out when my horse makes her move. Where should my stirrup legnth be for this sport, shorter to keep my ass in saddle or longer for me to leverage my backside? How do I ride my horse? Horses are different too in how they work! MOST by how they were taught, some due to confirmation, others due to unknown chronic issues never addressed!
I like being free in the tack. I love riding bareback, always have. Running a set of barrels bareback I have not.... I dont plan to this late in the game either BUT I still would like to have space to work, or so I think. I may be thinking all wrong due to this particular dicepline of BARREL RACING!
I have ridden in crappy saddles that have me all hemmed up and jacking me around at MACH10... but I have never tried a quality saddle that fits me and my horse... and the fact of the matter is it MAY just keep me from coming up out of the saddle, falling behind and grabbing a hold to catch up!
HELLO BRENDA ~ Here is YOUR SIGN!
sigh.... the vote is still out....
because they DO NOT MAKE BARREL SADDLES BIGGER THAN 15"!!!!
... apparently fat gurls ~ or J-Lo gurlz dont ride barrel horses?
THEY DO... I have seen it...AND THEY RIDE THE SHIT OUT OF THEM
... in their poor lil ol 15" saddles
THIS SADDLE was my first barrel racing saddle.... tho I didnt know it yet!
ACTUALLY a pretty decent saddle for the brand name (no name basically)
DC WESTERN of GREENSBORO NC
When I sat in it I felt the quality of the saddle
THO a 16" I could ride in it ok... except the stirrups werent free and I got pitched forward
Saddle leather great, fleece great but TREE created issues eventually and caused white spots to appear on my mares whither/shoulder area ~ NOT GOOD!
Sold it for a lil less than I paid for it ~ paid $525
HILSASON TREELESS saddle shown above. GREAT fit on mutton whithered horses that only a custom 10" gullet would fit. PRICING new $425 but basically only last about a year or two tops!
Stirrup leathers broke thru and had to replace and actually cause horses back to be sore after awhile.
I started doing Southern Stockhorse and figured I needed a saddle for that too... and though I couldnt afford the one I really would want which was a WADE style at a whopping $3500 I figured it would be ok to get a Wade look alike for $325 on ebay. Leather quality was thick and gross. Stain color orange-ee... worksmanship was bad... look at the stirrups hung way too far back from center and though turned wasnt able to work well while on cows. NOT TO MENTION the tree wasnt right and the whole saddle pitched to and fro and felt like it was sitting on top of the world... NO FEEL of your horse what so ever!
Then I upgraded my horse from a ranch style to a cutting style and had to have a cutting saddle!
I went all in!
I got a Calvin Allen and thought well FINALLY I got it right! $1300
BUT after a year trying to get my seat right, I just couldnt get my ass to stay down in the saddle while my horse cut a cow.... and I paid dearly one day... she cut left... I fell right... OFF!
At a show... in front of a crowd.... and then I was like that is it! What is the deal!????
so I decided to get a deeper seat ~ a JEFF SMITH close contact... and it made all the difference in the world. MIND YOU I was lucky to have found someone who wanted my Calvin Allen and traded even for this trophy saddle Jeff Smith. A Jeff Smith cutter NEW is $3600-$4500 so I thought I got a deal! Well it was an older model but had great bones! High rise to the Pommel... low cantel, cut out under fenders.... I did well in that slick seat and learned alot!
Meanwhile ... back to barrel racing tack connundrum... I thought well that Hillason is kinda working but being that its a glorified saddle pad with a pommel and a cantel mounted to it.... I need something with gullet for my high whithered runaway pegasus I was trying to tame and retrain at the time. I thought well I dont know how long I will have him but this cheap treeless nightmare is causing my proven 1D champion twitching at the whither and dry scabbing soon prevailed... and for $250
Then I finally decided to order this TREELESS saddle made by Circle Y Saddlery called
JUST BE NATURAL saddle. Custom ordered the 16.5 to make sure I would have enough room and was so excited to choose my chocolate on chocolate and bling and stirrup choice.... yippee!
3 months later it shows up... and I saddle up... SAME ISSUE with his Whither! Well I ride in it... and Im being pitched forward, the billets are faux leather which will last what ... a year or two?
Soooooooo dissappointed after the first few rides, wanting it to work so bad... and waiting so long for it to show up so I can ride a nice light weight wonderful special ordered saddle for $2400!!!!!
I couldnt ... so I shipped it back... and still awaiting it to sell on consignment where I purchased it from! UGHHHH! Cuz remember.... NOBODY rides in anything but a 15" saddle and this is a 16.5!
So while at the Worlds this year ... I spent time asking questions sitting in saddles, soaking up all the information I could about this saddle and how it is... what it is... who makes it and what it was designed for and to do or what it would do...
I brought both my horses to the woman to saddle fit several different types of saddles. I sat in almost every saddle... well she had me sit in almost every saddle she had... asking me what I felt and what I thought about it. That helped .... and then it didnt... because I seemed to get more confused... .I think I know what would work and what I need... and then I look at what styles of saddle I am drawn to and think I know why.
The Charmayne James C13 has been the apple of my eye for at least 5 years.... $3500 seemed outrageous and I still think so.... but after all that I have been through with trying to save a buck... what have I gained besides frustration and dissappointement? I like the C13 becuase of the close contact cut, the drop riggin and high rise and the seat pocket....
Now the new barrel saddle by JEFF SMITH just came out called the C3 ... ????? hmmmmmmmmmmm similar isnt it? Same price ... or there about. A little more refined than that of the C13 .... deeper seat (higher cantel) doesnt necessarily work for me... I do appreciate with as much leather skirting that has been cut away they do offer the rear cinch rigging to compensate for any movement that may or may not jack around back there.... but again... here we are... they dont make anythign bigger in either saddle than a 15" dammit! soooooooooooo why would I even bother? Maybe Jeff Smith would consider custom size but I know the other C13 most likely would not!
I have thrown in the towel on both styles ... unfortunately!
Below are two saddles that are similar and have pros and cons that we went over during saddle fit!
The top one is the chosen saddle by the vendor claiming it fits MOST horses and rides similar to the bottom one which I PREFERED.... $1999 for top and $2600 for bottom. Notice why I prefer the bottom? Because MY BOTTOM fits in the pocket! Close contact and high rise to the pommel keeps me sitting up and back and doesnt allow for me being pitched forward. Guess what size the bottom is that I rode in and actually rode ok in it... 14.5!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I know right! LIKE WHAAAT!
Its by JEFF SMITH.... I am starting to see the light here folks! Its taken me this long!????
Well the story is I wanted to order that saddle... BUT it has a Buster Welch tree... and may not feel the same as that one... they are all different... and so she discouraged me from wanting it... or tried to. she really wanted me to want the top one... that I just didnt ride as well in... it was a 15.5 and it felt smaller... and yes it fit my horse better... BUT ... I have to have it fit me to or what is the point?
IS THERE NOT A DANG SADDLE OUT THERE THAT WILL WORK FOR ME?
I AM ABOUT READY TO QUIT AND START A NEW THING ... BAREBACK BARRELs!!!!
At this point I am beyond frustrated and dissappointed and refuse to do anything about it right now.
I am still riding in my P.O.S. Hilason Treeless saddle(s) I ordered a second one for my second barrel horse. But my older one is the one making my horses back sore... and have made an offer on a treeless saddle by Circle Y called the Tammy Fisher ... its a lil too blingy for me... but rides ok... and its $1699.... but see ... here I go again trying to save a buck! It is a 16.5 which is only 1/2" difference than the two hilasons I am currently ridding in that are a 17"!
Tune in next time for the continuing saga of "How The Barrel Turns"