Is a Perfect Fit Possible?
This question should really be: Is a Perfect Fit Necessary? Many well meaning horse owners live in strife over achieving a perfect saddle fit for their horse. There are dozens of variables and moving targets one must achieve to perfection in order to get a perfect fit, and then that perfect fit may only last for a few hours. WHY? The three main categories of concern in saddle fit are constantly changing.
THE SADDLE TREE THE RIDER THE HORSE
The Saddle Tree is the only category that can remain constant. The Rider and The Horse are constantly changing. Loss of weight, changing muscle tone and simple movement when riding can all create fitting variables.
The goal should be to get a positive fit. What is a positive fit? A positive fit is achieved when rider and horse comfort are at a satisfactory level when riding for a specified period of time. If you are a trail rider, the goal is to be comfortable on the trail without any significant discomfort to your horse. The first step in achieving this goal is to have a positive match on your tree bar angle.
The bar angle is the defining element of the tree as to saddle fit with swell gullet width, twist, rock, flare, crown, relief, length, pattern and channel as secondary elements. This angle is described in the generic terms of: quarter horse bars, full quarter horse bars, semi-quarter horse bars. Tree makers express this angle in degrees and is calculated by a geometric and mathematical formula. The higher number in degrees the flatter the angle.
The angle of the tree bar must correspond to the angle of the horses saddle pocket (below the withers and back of the shoulder blade). When this is achieved, the margin for error in fitting is drastically reduced. A positive fit is just a few steps away.
For assistance in getting a positive fit call us at 800-251-3474
PRICE & QUALITY ANALYSIS
Over the past couple of years, a few of the saddle maker organizations have done research and reported on the overall western saddle market. Their research divides the level of quality and price into three categories as follows:
Low Range: The Price in this category is from $300.00 - $750.00 new retail price. Low end saddles are made in an assembly line setting and use lower quality materials. Short-cut labor strategies are used in this category to meet price requirements for the lower end market. This price range saddle is typically ridden by the weekend rider that has a limited budget and/or has limited knowledge of saddle quality and fit.
Low/Mid Range: The price in this category is from $750.00 - $1600.00 new retail price. Low/Mid range saddles are typically made in an assembly line setting using lower quality materials. The upper scale of this range sometimes uses domestic made trees and higher quality materials. This range of saddles is typically ridden by the weekend rider that strives for a better quality in a cost conscious market. Positive saddle fit can be achieved on this range of saddles if a high quality tree is used in its construction.
Mid Range: The Price in this category ranges from $1,600.00 - $3,200.00 new retail price. This category has many variables that affect the price and quality. Some models in this range are simply well adorned lower range saddles to give the appearance of a higher quality saddle. Buyer Beware- only buy from a well respected dealer and ask the right questions. Questions to consider: What material is the tree constructed of? What type of leather is used? What is used in the seat for padding? Is the Cheyenne Roll hand stitched or glued? Where is this saddle made? Positive answers to these questions can give you the information you need to make a decision on your purchase.This price range is for the more serious weekend rider that values fit and comfort for the horse and rider.
Upper Range: The Price in this category ranges from $3200.00 and up new retail price. This category provides high quality and better fit for you and your horse. Higher quality leather and materials are used on a well designed hand made tree using the best materials on the tree. This price range typically puts you in a saddle for a lifetime. The saddle will last for years and years. With age, this saddle gets better and better for both you and your horse.
For serious equestrians!