Wednesday, July 31, 2013

10 Most Popular Saddles of 2013: #1

This post is part of a series exploring the 10 most popular saddles from Horse Saddle Shop over the first half of 2013.

#1: Fabtron Lady Flex Tree Trail Saddle 7152 | Price: $699.95

We have seen a lot of great saddles over the past few weeks - from ranch, to barrel, to different styles of trail saddles. But over the past few years, nothing has come close to touching the popularity of the Fabtron Lady Flex Tree Trail Saddle. Coming in at #1 on our list of Most Popular Saddles of 2013, let's explore what makes this saddle so desirable.

If you are having a deja vu moment, you're not alone. Our #3 most popular saddle was the Fabtron Lady Trail. What's the difference? The Lady Flex Trail is built on a Ralide Flex Tree which allows your horse a little more freedom of movement underneath the saddle.

The Flex Tree has a couple other advantages. It is very light weight (one reason this saddle weighs so little), it's durable, and it can be manufactured to exact specifications every single time. We also like that there aren't any joints on this flex tree. It's one solid piece so there won't be any loose joints or weak points to worry about like a typical wood tree.

Another key feature of the Fabtron Lady saddles is the narrow twist designed with the female configuration in mind. This means the front of the seat is going to be a little more narrow for a more comfortable ride - especially noticeable after a long day of riding.

Other things we like about this saddle include its versatility. It can be made in a 15", 16", or 17" seat and special ordered with youth fenders to match the configuration of any rider.

The padded sued seat and 5" tall cantle with cheyenne roll will keep you secure in the saddle, while the long saddle strings will keep your gear nice and secure all day long.

A Ralide tree, Cordura material, and short 24" skirt helps to keep the weight down. Weighing in at only 21 pounds, this saddle is manageable for any rider.

Don't let the price fool you, this is not a "cheap" saddle. Fabtron is made in the USA with high quality leather and Cordura materials.

If you check this saddle out at, you'll notice that we include a FREE Trail Riding Package with this saddle. The Trail Package includes a leather breast collar, leather brow band headstall, and leather split reins. So if you already have a nice saddle pad, you're ready to ride.

You can get more information on this saddle including a video review, over at

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

10 Most Popular Saddles of 2013: #2

This post is part of a series exploring the 10 most popular saddles from Horse Saddle Shop over the first half of 2013.

#2: Billy Cook Arbuckle Wade Ranch 2182  | Price: $1,596.50

At just over $1,500, this Billy Cook ranch saddle isn't cheap, but with a little care, it will last generations. Let's take a look at why the Billy Cook 2182 comes in at #2 on our list of Most Popular Saddles of 2013.

This saddle is ready to do work. It's built on a Wade rawhide covered tree with wrapped horn and flat plate rigging. It comes with a 27 strand Mohair cinch and a matching tooled flank strap. So if you have a good saddle pad, you're ready to ride.

The genuine Billy Cook saddles out of Sulphur, OK are not as easy to get ahold of as they once were. Demand for Billy Cook saddles continues to increase. When you buy a Billy Cook, the saddle is just a fraction of what you are getting. You're receiving a piece of history and tradition from a saddle maker that has maintained a consistent manufacturing process for decades. A saddle like this, if well maintained, can last for generations.

Although some would debate the comfort of a hard seat, the #2 position of this saddle speaks for itself. The hard seat seen on most ranch saddles is beneficial for the working cowboy for two reasons: 1) it's easier to get in and out of the seat, and 2) it stays cool where a padded seat would get hot and promote perspiration, making for a pretty uncomfortable day in the saddle.

The tooling on this saddle is impeccable. The waffle border is just enough to give this saddle some character, but still keep the price competitive with other ranch saddles.

We love the Billy Cook logos and tooled signature behind the cantle. There will be no question what you're riding when you're in this saddle.

The 2182 comes with nice long saddle strings and rawhide laced stirrups. We love the rawhide straight roll cantle that turns up on a lot of the Billy Cook ranch saddles.

If you're looking for a great fit to your ranch lifestyle or a tough saddle for packing up the trails, give the Arbuckle Wade a look.

You can get more information on this saddle including a video review, over at

Monday, July 29, 2013

10 Most Popular Saddles of 2013: #3

This post is part of a series exploring the 10 most popular saddles from Horse Saddle Shop over the first half of 2013.

#3: Fabtron 'Lady Trail' 7152  | Price: $592.50

A saddle made with the female rider in mind, the Fabtron 'Lady Trail' 7152 takes our #3 spot in our Top 10 Saddles of 2013.

Now, just to be clear, this saddle isn't exclusively for a woman. But it is designed with features that appeal to a smaller rider.

Beginning with the weight, those that sometimes struggle to tack up or lug a large saddle around will appreciate the meager 22 pounds of the Fabtron Lady Trail. A short 24" Cordura skirt and fenders mixed with the American made leather jockey, pommel, and cantle make for a weight saving design. The Cordura fabric is exceptionally durable and resilient to wear.

The seat comes in an extra padded, rough-out design, available in 15", 16", or 17". Not only will you enjoy the extra padding on long trail rides, but the tall 5" cantle with cheyenne roll will provide exceptional back support all day long.

We like the long saddle strings for extra gear on the trail, but beyond that, you won't find too many other frills on this saddle. Not to worry though, for the price, you can always add a couple conchos or some silver to make it your own.

If you've ever sat in a synthetic saddle in person, many times they can be completely underwhelming. Not only are they synthetic, but they are made cheaply overseas. Not something that we would ever consider selling to our customers.

But this American made Fabtron is different. You'll be overwhelmed by the quality of the leather and craftsmanship of the saddle. Just read the reviews and see what our customers are saying. This saddle exceeds expectations every time.

When you buy the Fabtron Lady Trail, you're buying a saddle that will last years on the trail, and keep both horse and rider comfortable while doing it. All without breaking the bank.

You can get more information on this saddle over at

Sunday, July 28, 2013

10 Most Popular Saddles of 2013: #4

This post is part of a series exploring the 10 most popular saddles from Horse Saddle Shop over the first half of 2013.

#4: Fabtron Haflinger Saddle 7186 | Price: $675.00

If you're a Haflinger or draft horse owner, I'm sure you've felt the squeeze when looking for a saddle. There isn't as much demand for an extra wide saddle as there is for something like an American Quarter Horse. Hence a drastically smaller selection of Haflinger and draft saddles.

That's why we have worked directly with Fabtron to bring you this Fabtron Haflinger Trail Saddle 7186, coming in at #4 on our list of Top 10 saddles for 2013.

In years past, we began to notice a trend of customers needing an extra wide saddle for a short backed horse. Makes sense, right? Well nobody made one! So we took our best selling Haflinger saddle, the Fabtron 7182, and worked directly with Fabtron to design the saddle YOU wanted. The result was the 7186. Now one of our top selling saddles and something you will only find at Horse Saddle Shop.

The shorter skirt allows your Haflinger freedom of movement without interfering with his hips. It also cuts down on the weight of this saddle coming in at only 22lbs! The weight of a cordura saddle is one of its best features. You'll really notice and appreciate it when tacking up a Haflinger or draft horse. A few less pounds to lift above your head is always a welcome improvement.

This saddle doesn't come with a lot of bling or detailed tooling. Just a simple, quality made saddle designed to get the job done.

It's short, it's light, and it doesn't break the bank. That's what has propelled this saddle to the #4 position in 2013.

You can get more information on this saddle at

Saturday, July 27, 2013

10 Most Popular Saddles of 2013: #5

This post is part of a series exploring the 10 most popular saddles from Horse Saddle Shop over the first half of 2013.

#5: Dakota Trail Flex Saddle 213 | Price: $930.00

A Dakota in the Top 5?!? Let me just say, our Top 5 best selling saddles will keep you guessing!

This is the Dakota Trail Flex Saddled 213 and it comes in at #5 on our list of Top 10 saddles for 2013.

Let me start by introducing you to Dakota Saddlery. If it's not a Billy Cook or Tucker, some might overlook it, but we can tell you from experience, Dakota is not to be overlooked.

A small family owned business in Ider, Al, Dakota makes some of the most affordable, quality, American made, custom saddles in the industry. That was a mouthful, but that's Dakota for you.

You can read more about our visit to Dakota Saddlery here and here.

The 213 is like the sports car of trail saddles. By popular request, Dakota designed this saddle with a barrel style skirt making it perfect for horses with a shorter back.

The leather is supple, but does require a little break-in time. Good thing Dakota makes this saddle with easy twist fenders for a shorter break-in period.

Want a different color? Not a problem. Dakota will make that change at no additional cost. In fact, go ahead and make this a custom saddle. Dakota doesn't charge painful fees like some other saddle makers. Most of their changes will run you around $5-$10 each.

We always like long saddle strings on our trail saddles, so Dakota hit the sweet spot on this one. We also like that the 213 is only 30lbs! We'll take every lb. we can get when tacking up!

The Trail Flex bars are perfect for keeping your horse comfortable. A flex saddle will allow the bars to flex front to back and side to side, making a good fitting saddle GREAT for your horse! You can learn more about Flex trees here.

The petal boarder tooling adds a nice touch to the grainout leather. Although a bit understated, we actually like how clean the subtle tooling makes this saddle look.

For those longer trail rides, you'll enjoy the 5" cantle with black grainout leather seat and a 3.5" horn for a little extra grip.

Don't let the price fool you on this one. The Dakota 213 is our #5 best selling saddle this year because it features some of the highest quality material at an extremely affordable price. And making this a custom order won't break the bank!

You can get more information on this saddle at

Friday, July 26, 2013

10 Most Popular Saddles of 2013: #6

This post is part of a series exploring the 10 most popular saddles from Horse Saddle Shop over the first half of 2013.

#6: Billy Cook 1777 | Price: $1492.50

This Billy Cook Genuine Trail saddle 1777 comes in at #6 on our list of Top 10 saddles for 2013.

The 1777 has been a top seller at Horse Saddle Shop for the past few years. It was added to the Billy Cook trail saddle lineup a few years ago and made a dramatic entrance into our Top 10 list only months after its release.

An eye catching saddle, we were first drawn to the classic lines that Billy Cook kept with this saddle. The long saddle strings not only provide ample space for trail essentials, but they give this saddle a more traditional look - something we find very attractive in a trail saddle.

The 1777 comes in a couple different color combinations, but the pecan color that's pictured is stunning.

We really like that Billy Cook did not go overboard with the tooling on this saddle. Its hand stamped, deep waffle boarder is just enough to make a statement and add to the traditional look without sending it overboard. And if there was ever a question that this was a genuine Billy Cook saddle, you can just point the doubters to the 5+ Billy Cook stamped logos that adorn this beauty!

When talking trail saddles, we have to talk seats! The 1777 comes with a smooth padded seat with white stitching that really pops. You'll be happy with the 5" cantle for back support on those long trail rides.

One of the details that Billy Cook continues to honor is the inclusion of a latigo leather flank strap instead of nylon and pre-twisted fenders.

This saddle is built on a strong, rawhide covered tree special made with trail riders in mind. It also features 7/8 position in skirt rigging and 2" bell sewn stirrups.

We keep a consistent stock of 1777 saddles, but as is true with most Billy Cook saddles, any custom orders can take a significant amount of time to get made. But if you're looking for a quality saddle that will last for generations, something you can pass down to your children and grandchildren, Billy Cook is an excellent choice and well worth the wait.

You can get more information on this saddle and see a video review over at

Thursday, July 25, 2013

10 Most Popular Saddles of 2013: #7

This post is part of a series exploring the 10 most popular saddles from Horse Saddle Shop over the first half of 2013.

#7: Billy Cook 2175 | Price: $1661.50

The Billy Cook High Country Rancher 2175 comes in at #7 on our list of Top 10 saddles for 2013.

Yet another high quality Billy Cook saddle that's built like a tank. And you sure can tell with this saddle weighing in at a hefty 44lbs.

If you're looking for a sturdy work saddle that's going to last for decades and provide a comfortable ride all day long, this Billy Cook is worth a look.

Billy Cook built the 2175 on a rawhide covered tree. The rawhide is going to provide extra strength which makes this a great working saddle. But one of the things we love is that, although this is a ranch saddle, it can also double as a trail saddle with its 2.5" short post horn and long saddle strings for extra gear on the trail.

The standard on Billy Cook ranch saddles, the 2175 comes with a hard seat, great for mounting and dismounting as well as providing a nice comfortable surface for long rides or a full day of work. And if you're going to be in it very long, you'll appreciate the tall 5" cantle with straight rawhide roll for a little extra back support.

We're also a fan of the 14" swell giving you something to lock your legs under when the time comes and a flat plate rigging for extra strength.

When it comes to tooling, Billy Cook does it right with hand stamped basket tooled leather everywhere you look on this saddle. We've always been a fan of the large Billy Cook tooled signature logo on the back of the cantle, just incase anyone has a questions about what you're riding!

This saddle comes outfitted with brass hardware and deep 3" rawhide laced roper stirrups.  

Could you find a stronger, heavier saddle than the 2175? Maybe, but there aren't many. And for the price, you get American made, quality craftsmanship that is going to last for generations.

You can get more information on this saddle over at

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

10 Most Popular Saddles of 2013: #8

This post is part of a series exploring the 10 most popular saddles from Horse Saddle Shop over the first half of 2013.

#8: Billy Cook 2010 | Price: $1,362.50

Yet another Billy Cook saddle to add to our Top 10 list. If you aren't familiar with Billy Cook saddles, take a look at our previous post detailing the art and craftsmanship that Billy Cook brings to saddle making.

If you're looking at the Billy Cook 2010 barrel saddle, you either want to go fast or feel secure in the saddle. The 2010 will fill both roles whether in the arena or on the trail AND make you look good in the process.

When we talk barrel saddles, most American made, quality saddle manufacturers have similar designs and specifications. The difference is in the details.

So what can you expect from this 2010 barrel racer? Well, before we get to anything else, we have to address the incredible hand tooled half-breed Texas Oak tooling. "Half-breed" refers to the roughout fenders and jockey with grain out leather covering the rest of the saddle - pretty standard on a barrel saddle. But when you look closely, the tooling is very deep and detailed - the oak leaf pattern on the skirt has almost a 3D effect.

The tooling continues to the pommel and cantle where you'll find a thick, sliver rawhide lacing. We also noticed the straight stitching, showing the quality and craftsmanship of a Billy Cook saddle. We love the crisp, large Billy Cook stamp on the cantle just incase someone forgets what you're riding in!

Moving up to the seat, you'll find a black suede seat with a very detailed, white, quilted stitching pattern and a silver Billy Cook plaque. The suede seat, roughout leather, and 5" cantle team up to keep you in the seat around the turns.

You'll also appreciate the 1.75" laced horn with yet another Billy Cook cap on the top!

Not typically found in other barrel saddles is a C.J. rawhide covered tree for strength, durability, and a saddle that will last for a very long time. We also like the in skirt rigging for extra strength.

As far as barrel saddles go, this is one of the best. And for the price, you won't find many other saddles that match the quality of a Billy Cook.

You can get more information on this saddle over at

Monday, July 22, 2013

10 Most Popular Saddles of 2013: #9

This post is part of a series exploring the 10 most popular saddles from Horse Saddle Shop over the first half of 2013.

#9: Billy Cook 2181 | Price: $1622.50

We should start by saying that five out of our Top 10 saddles are from Billy Cook in Sulphur, Oklahoma. Horse Saddle Shop is the largest dealer of Billy Cook saddles in the world and proud of it. Sure, a custom saddle from Billy Cook can take some time to get your hands on, but what you're getting is much more than a saddle. Made by hand in the U.S.A. from some of the most talented craftsmen in the business, what you receive is a useable piece of art that will last you a lifetime.

The Billy Cook Wade Tree Ranch Saddle 2181 comes in at #9 on our list of Top 10 saddles for 2013.

If you’re looking at this saddle, chances are you’re going to be doing work in it. So let’s start by looking at what makes this such a sturdy ride.

Billy Cook built this on a Wade rawhide covered tree for extra strength and shock absorption. The rawhide also works to protect the wood tree from moisture. It’s built with a wrapped post horn and comes with 7/8 position flat plate rigging with brass hardware. The flat plate rigging is a compromise between on-tree and in-skirt rigging. It's meant to provide the extra strength that you'd get from on-tree rigging with less bulk that comes with in-skirt.

The 2181 is built with a hard seat, a source of some debate especially for those used to trail saddles. Though a soft seat may be preferable on the trails, the hard seat gives a working rider a slick surface for easily mounting and dismounting and is a cooler ride – meaning less heat, less moisture, and, in-turn, less discomfort during a long day in the saddle.

The 4” cantle is just high enough to provide the necessary support and is adorned with deep leather tooling, rawhide binding, and a large Billy Cook stamp so everyone knows you’re riding in the real thing!

You’ll appreciate the roper stirrups this saddle comes with, although many of our customers switch them out with 4” leather lined bell or moran stirrups.

Like we said before, this saddle is truly a piece of American Made craftsmanship. We love the deep 3/4 basket stamped tooling in high quality chestnut, russet, and pecan leather. The saddle strings provide extra room for your daily essentials.

Plain and simple, this saddle made the Top 10 because it is a tough, well built workhorse that looks and rides like a custom saddle. And for the price, you’re getting more than what you pay for.

You can get more information on this saddle, including a video review, over at

Monday, July 15, 2013

Taking Care of your Antique Horse

Our horses are part of our family, joining us at a young age and becoming an equine senior citizen as a cherished family member. Just as your horse has taken care of you along many miles of trail riding, it is now your turn to take care of him in his twilight years.
Nutrition and health care needs for an elderly horse are different than those of a younger horse. You can place an elderly horse in a wonderfully lush pasture; however, if he is smooth mouthed or has missing teeth, he cannot properly chew the grass to get the optimal nutrition from it. Also, improperly chewed grass can cause impaction colic in older horses. Hay cubes may be the best thing to feed your elder horse because the fibers are smaller than those in regular hay and can be digested by an aging system. Along with the hay cubes, other smaller fiber foods such as beet pulp, soy husks, and bran can be included in your horse’s diet. Pelleted senior feeds can be incorporated into the diet to aid in easier digestion and absorption. All of the above items can be soaked in water for those horses that are pretty much unable to chew anything due to many missing teeth.
Always make sure there is an ample supply of clean, fresh water for your horse, which helps prevent colic. Flavoring the water and keeping a salt block available for your horse will encourage more water consumption.
Exercise is important for your older horse, both for his mental and physical health. Continue riding your horse if there are no health concerns preventing it. As long as he is healthy, a horse can be ridden through his 20’s and even into his 30’s. Be mindful not to over-tax him with a work out that is too strenuous.  Keep in mind that you want to keep him in good tone and body condition in correlation with his age and not with how he looked as a six-year old.  A leisurely ride down the road and back is better than having him stand in his stall or hang out in the pasture. This will exercise his body and his mind. Horses always enjoy having a job.  If riding your miserly mount is not an option, you can hand walk him 20-30 minutes two or three times a week to allow for some exercise.
It is very important to keep our elderly horses properly vaccinated for common equine diseases. Advanced age will weaken and suppress the immune system, making our senior equines more susceptible to illness.  Dental care is equally important to take care of any teeth that may be remaining.
Be keenly observant of tell-tale signs that there may be some underlying problem with your elderly horse. Watch out for markedly increased water consumption and frequent urination, gait irregularities lameness or other mobility issues;   change in shape, color, and smell of manure; retention of winter coat. All of these things may indicate a potential health problem for your geriatric guy.
Older horses are easily stressed during colder weather, most likely because they are not able to process hay as easily through their hind gut, which is how they generate heat; or because they are not in optimal body condition. You may want to blanket him during the coldest of days and nights to make sure he is warm.
As hard as it is to even think about, be aware of when your trusted treasure and old friend is reaching the end of his journey. While it is never easy to say goodbye to a dearly loved horse, it is even worse to keep him languishing in poor health. Discuss with your veterinarian when the appropriate time may be to help your horse with his journey across the Rainbow Bridge.
Happy trails!
By: Darlene M. Cox (

Friday, July 12, 2013

10 Most Popular Saddles of 2013: #10

This post is part of a series exploring the 10 most popular saddles from Horse Saddle Shop over the first half of 2013.

#10: Circle Y 1528 Barrel Saddle | Price: $1545.99

If you need to go fast and look good doing it, the Kelly Kaminski 1528 barrel saddle is a good choice.

You cannot miss the bling on this saddle. It starts with the clear crystal mosaic conchos from the skirt to the Cheyenne roll cantle. Circle Y has also included decorative flank plates for a little extra shine around the back.

We love the impeccable deep flower tooling and the soft quality leather. You’ll also notice straight stitching around the cantle and skirt. Topping it off is a beautiful rawhide-laced horn for a little extra strength and a nice finished look. “Quality” on this saddle is an understatement.

Customers are always impressed with this saddle’s “sticking power” in the seat. Circle Y created this with a 5” cantle and sued seat. Couple that with the smaller seat sizes desired by most barrel racers and this saddle gives you the impression that you’re Velcroed in.

Kelly helped design the horn so that both height and style help you lock your elbow into your hip around the barrels for consistent turns.

We were impressed by the minimal 21lbs. that this saddle weighs in at – in part made possible by the extra light Flex2 tree.

Between the Flex2 tree and the thick synthetic blend fleece, your horse should be just as comfortable as you in this saddle – one of Kelly Kaminski’s requests when developing this design.

Overall, this is one of our best barrel saddles at a fantastic price. You can get more information on this saddle over at