Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Leather Versus Synthetic Saddles

Synthetic saddles

Synthetic saddles have three main advantages over a traditional leather saddle:

  1. Price: This is the factor that sways some customers away from a traditional leather saddle. You can get a quality, durable saddle that costs much less than a saddle made out of leather.
  2. Weight: Synthetic saddles run half the weight of their leather counterparts, giving your horse less to carry and saving you the hassle of logging around a twenty-five-pound leather saddle.
  3. Ease of Care: Throw away that old leather conditioner and the rags that go with it. All that's usually needed to clean a synthetic saddle is a damp cloth.

Synthetic saddles also come in many styling options in a wide variety of disciplines, so whatever you're wanting in a traditional saddle, chances are there's a synthetic saddle that comes close.

The term synthetic covers a wide range of saddles, including very cheap saddles made out of nylon or vinyl. Many imported saddles fall into this category. The Horse Saddle Shop is very picky about what saddles to stock; we do not sell imported or cheaply made saddles. When it comes to synthetic, the only material we're standing behind is Cordura. Fabtron and Big Horn have made a variety of Cordura saddles that we're proud to sell.

Cordura saddles

Cordura is a registered brand name of a nylon fabric made by Invista. It is used in a wide variety of products where durability is important, such as luggage, boots, military apparel, and clothing.

Why is it used for saddles?

Cordura is extremely useful for saddles because of its resistance to abrasion. According to Invista's website, Cordura is two times more durable than nylon and three times more durable than polyester. Cordura is made to last. It's also easy to care for and resists dirt.

Disadvantages of a cordura saddles

Styling: There's no way to replicate the traditional gloss, smell, and styling of a quality leather saddle. Cordura saddles can be attractive, but most western enthusiasts prefer the look of leather. Leather often leaves more room for your personal taste, giving you plenty of tooling and other stylish elements that will make the saddle all your own.

Durability: There's no way to say how long a Cordura saddle will last. Cordura is a very durable, abrasion-resistant material, and certainly, you're going to get your money's worth, but if you want a guarantee that the saddle will last a lifetime, leather is the only way to go. A leather saddle can be an heirloom; we doubt you'll see many Cordura saddles in a museum exhibit fifty years from now.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Tying Trouble

I recently purchased a new horse! Everything was going great when I got him home! He stalled great, fit in well with the other horses, everything was perfect. Or so it seemed… After letting this new horse settle in for about a week or two I decided to throw a saddle on him and ride.

Well, little did I know he was going to give me a run for my money when it came to tying. I tied him up to the hitching post and began to tack him up for our ride. He then backed up and held pressure on the lead rope knowing exactly what he was doing to try and snap the lead rope. He did just that! He snapped the lead rope and got loose. I finally got him caught, and put back away.

I began thinking I can’t be the only one that has struggled with this issue. After conducting endless amounts of research, I came across a friend who had the same issue with one of her horses. She told me to use a neck rope along with her halter and lead rope. I thought yeah, sure he will slip right out of that! I was desperate to try anything, as without tying you can’t do much with a horse.

I put the neck rope on him and tied him up to the hitching post again and he pulled back to try and put pressure in the lead rope and snap it again, just as I thought he would. However, this time the neck rope stopped him! He fought it for a few minutes then gave up. It took about 2-3 times of using the neck rope and he was tying like a dream!

If you are struggling with a horse that won't tie, don’t give up! Purchase a neck rope and try it. However, you want to be sure to tie them in an area where he or she can’t hurt themselves because they are going to fight it to try and get loose as this is a learned behavior.

It shouldn’t take more than a couple times of trying this and they should be back to tying like they need to, and you can have your horse back! It worked for my gelding and I hope it works for you too! No one should have to struggle with this issue when you can try a simple thing such as this to fix it for good!

- Leah

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Deworming Dos & Don'ts

The biggest mistake made deworming a horse is using only ivermectin wormers. If you only use one type of chemical class your horse can become tolerant, and your worming schedule will be ineffective. Below is a great chart used to describe the different Drug classes for wormers and why they are used.



This chart was made by HorseSaddleShop for informative purposes only. You always want to consult your Veterinarian before treating your horse. In some cases, your Vet will come up with a rotational worming schedule directed especially for your born, as they will know the risks for parasites in your area.

Some prevention to parasites can be made by cleaning manure out of pasture frequently, as well as feeding your horses from a feeder rather than the ground.

Here are some factors that can result in a higher risk of parasites for your horse:
  • Horses being pastured in a dry lot (dirt lot)
  • Sharing pastures with cattle, goats or sheep
  • Hight Pasture Population ( Having one or more horses per acre of land)
  • Wednesday, July 26, 2017

    Saddle Diagram

    Ever been lost when it comes to saddle terms? Cowboys and cowgirls ain't nothing but confident ain't you can't be confident if you don't know what you are talking about.

    We can help you know your stuff.
    Take a look at our easy saddle parts breakdown.

    Wednesday, July 12, 2017

    Checking the Fit of your Saddle

    Goal of Fit: Bar Contact to the Horse’s Back

    The bars protect the spine and distribute pressure from the rider’s weight evenly across the horse’s back. Larger riders and performance saddles need longer bars to give more contact area to distribute pressure.

    Checking the Fit of your Saddle

    The tree has two main factors that determine the fit; gullet width and bar angle. The combination of the two factors makes for slight variations in the saddle industry. There are not any standards or definitions of specific tree sizes, but each saddle builder provides a description to give an idea of the size of horse the tree should fit.

    Gullet Width or sometimes referred to as bar spread is the measurement 2 inches below the narrowest part of the gullet, even with the side conchos. This is the most common factor because we can measure it more easily. When measuring, make sure you’re underneath the bars, not in front of the saddle.

    A narrow gullet width will keep the saddle perched higher. A wider spread will drop further down on the horse’s back.

    Bar Angle is not often measured but the angle needs to be as close to the angle of the horse’s back as possible.

    A narrow or tight angle will make contact at the bottom of the bars, not the top. A wide angle will make contact at the top of the bars, not the bottom.

    Approximate degrees (+/- 3 degrees):
    86 degrees - Normal/Narrow Angle
    90 degrees - Wide Angle
    94 degrees – Extra Wide Angle

    Other Factors



    Bar Flare: The bars will flare to some degree in the front and back of the saddle. The front will flare away from the horse to allow for shoulder movement. The back may flare to keep the bars from digging into the croup.

    Bar Slope or Rock: The curve of the horse’s topline should be as close to the shape of the bars as possible.

    Bridging: When the bars make contact in the front and back of the saddle, but not in the middle. It causes what looks like a bridge across the dip in the back. The weight of the rider is carried only at the ends of the bars causing a lot of pressure that can result in white hairs and sores.

    Rock: when the bars bend more than the horse needs. This is the opposite of bridging and less common. The saddle may tip forward, though that could also be from a saddle that is too wide in the front. Rock is found on horses with a flat toppling.

    Tree Sizes



    Semi-QH: Semi Quarter Horse can be referred to as Medium, Regular, or QH bars. This tree size has a higher pitch or angle to the bars. It’s for the horse with a more defined wither. (1/2 Arab, Appendix, Thoroughbred, etc).

    Full-QH: Full Quarter Horse or FQHB can be referred to as Wide (usually 7” gullet). The angle is flatter compared to the Semi-QH tree. This is for horses with a broad shoulder. They’re considered mutton withered or a less pronounced wither. (Quarter Horse, Paint, etc)

    Arabian: Have a narrow front (usually 6.5" – 6.75" gullet) similar to the Semi-QH bar but the back of the saddle has a flatter pitch angle. So the saddle goes from a little narrow in the front to flatter or wider in the back. Can sometimes fit non-Arabian horses.

    Gaited: The gaited tree has a higher gullet to accommodate the higher withered horses. They usually have a wider or flared front to allow for shoulder movement. The tree narrows toward the back where the bars have more pitch. The gaited saddles usually have more rock to the bars. (Tennessee Walker, Fox Trotter, etc)

    Haflinger: Short backed, mutton withered – these trees have a flatter pitch to the bar angle and very little rock. Usually a 7.5" gullet, they’re often used on other large horses needing an extra wide tree.

    Draft: Usually an 8" gullet to fit on large draft horses.

    Monday, June 26, 2017

    Flex Tree Frequent Questions

    1. Can flexible trees warp or cave in?
    We don’t know where this myth came from, but quite frankly, it’s preposterous. Flex trees are relatively new to the equine industry (in comparison with the age old wooden tree), and we suppose that if someone only heard the term “flexible tree” without knowing what it is, this myth would be easily spawned.

    Many people hear the term and assume that a flex tree is bendable like a piece of plastic or rubber. In reality, flex trees only “flex” about a centimeter in either direction, and only under pounds of pressure. You would probably find it hard to even see a flex tree “flexing.”

    This centimeter of movement, however, is what makes the flex tree more comfortable for the horse and allows the saddle to conform better to his movement. We’re not going to recommend flex trees for roping or ranch work, but we’re willing to say that under trail and pleasure conditions, there’s no way a flex tree is going to warp or cave in.

    2. Do the neoprene bars cause the saddle to flatten out on the horse?
    No. Flexible bars made out of neoprene are made out of very heavy neoprene; think about the rubber sole of a work boot. The bars will not flatten out on your horse because they are connected to a ground seat, which forces the saddle to hold its shape.

    3. Will the flexible bars help the saddle to fit better?
    Yes and no. It depends on how good of a fit you have, to begin with. If you have a bad fit, to begin with, the flexible bars may make the fit tolerable, but by no means comfortable for the horse. If you have a good fit, to begin with, the flexibility will allow the horse to work with the saddle, giving him more freedom of movement in the shoulders.

    4. The flex trees above are made differently. Is one better than the other?
    If you want the highest quality, go with the flex trees that incorporate a wooden cantle and swell with neoprene bars. You get the benefits of strength and durability of a traditional wood tree with the new flexible technology. We don't see these saddles wearing out very easily.

    Friday, May 26, 2017

    Caring for my Mare & Foal

    It is very important to put your mare on a good diet with all the essential nutrients she needs to stay healthy, I feed a high protein feed. Lots of hay and water are also necessary, after all she is eating/drinking for two! A few weeks prior to foaling I like to transition the mare to new pasture/pen as it has a large stall for her to foal in. Changing pastures a few weeks before pregnancy helps keep stress levels down and get the mare comfortable with her new area.

    When my mare starts showing signs that she may be ready to foal soon, I wrap her tail so it is out of the way. I also change her bedding from sawdust to a thick heavy bedding of straw, as it is safer for the mare and foal during labor. After the foal is a few hours old I begin to start bonding with foal. Keeping down a number of people in the stall help keep your mare and foal calm, too many people will make her nervous.

    To keep Mare and Foal comfortable and safe I keep all animals away from mare and foal and let them have a stall pasture all to themselves. Now that the foal is born and healthy it is time to come up with a name! I like to watch behavior and pay attention to physical characteristics to help me come up with a name.

    - Rachael