Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Benefits of Slow Feed Nets

Did you know that slow feed hay bags/nets have been proven to reduce almost 94% of hay waste. Imagine how much money you could save in a years time! With round bale nets my horses have always wasted so much hay by pulling it out and laying on it. I've recently switched to the slow feed round bale net and no longer have any waste! It's easy to put on as well, with draw strings at the top. I'm so glad I made the switch and I encourage you to ditch the wasted hay and get a slow feed net!

Benefits of Slow Feeding

  • Slows down digestion/consumption
  • Helps prevent colic and ulcers.
  • Prevents boredom by keeping a horse eating longer.
  • Saves money on wasted hay!

Ask us TODAY about purchasing your slow feed hay net, available for square bales and round bales!
Call 866-880-2121!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Measuring for Horse Blankets

  1. Using a string, have a helper hold the end in the center of your horse's chest where his neck and chest meet. Pull the string around the side (covering the largest parts of the shoulder and stomach) and end in the center of the horse's rump area.

  2. Mark the length of the string with a marker (or cut it if you don't mind sacrificing your string). We'll measure this in the next step.

  3. Lay the string flat and use a tape measure to find the length. The length in inches is the size of horse sheet or blanket your horse will need. If the measurement falls between two sizes, round up to the larger size for the best fit.

    NOTE: if you own a fabric style tape measure that is long enough for this task, skip the string and use the flexible tape measure! But don't cut it... that would be bad!

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

    Wednesday, May 24, 2017


    Finding the correct stirrup length is crucial to riding safely, having proper control over your horse and keeping a good, balanced form. When you are riding, your ear, shoulder, hip and heel should all be in alignment. If your stirrups are too long or too short, your heels will be too far forward or back.

    However, this is not a simple mathematical process. The length can also depend on your body conformation, your horse’s barrel, the type of saddle your’e using, what discipling you’re performing and your own preference. Many beginning riders need the extra security of shorter stirrups.

    With the in mind, pay attention to the way your legs hang when you are on the horse. Are you consistently getting pinched? Are your knees knocking against the knee roll? Are you dropping your heel to get your knee in the right spot? Your stirrups are too short. Are you pointing your toe to stay in the stirrup? Is your foot consistently falling out? You stirrups are too long.

    The following methods are what many trainers use to judge stirrup length. Try them out to determine your correct stirrup length.


    • Stirrup Measuring Method One: Stirrup to Armpit
    • Stand next to the fender of your saddle
    • Using your forearm, place your hand to the stirrup bar
    • The end of the stirrup should end at your armpit
    • This method might need some adjustment once you mount


    • Stirrup Measuring Method One: Stirrup to Ankle
    • Have someone eyeball this one for you
    • Once you are on your horse, put your leg straight down
    • The bottom of the stirrup should be even with your ankle bone

    Two common phrases we hear are: “But I’m extremely tall!” or “I’m the shortest person I know”

    If your legs do not fit normal stirrups, you may need to order a pair that are shorter or have more length. Many of our manufacturers offer sets of fenders in different sizes specifically for this purpose. Get your saddle’s make and model handy and give us a call at 866-880-2121 for some problem resolving options.

    Wednesday, April 19, 2017

    Abscesses: The common cold for horses

    The common cold for humans is the horse equivalent of an abscess. Some horses are more prone to them than others. I have a grulla paint mare that I have owned for just over a year, and in that course of a year, she has had a few abscesses. I have gotten pretty good in treating these things so I am going to share a little about an abscess and what some symptoms and treatment options are.

    To start off if you don’t know what an abscess is, it occurs when bacteria invades the horse's hoof and is most noticeable when it infects the sensitive parts of the foot. They can cause serious damage if left untreated. What are some symptoms of an abscess you may ask? Well, the most common and noticed symptom is lameness and limping. This is in result to the invasion of the bacteria into the sensitive spots in the hoof.

    However, there are a few more things that you can pick up on that are preliminary to an abscess. These include but are not limited to: fever, swelling of the leg and hoof area, sensitivity to hoof picks, and touch. If you notice your horse displaying any of these behaviors they probably have an abscess.

    Fear not! These can be treated fairly easy. The easiest and fastest relief for your horse from an abscess is to have your vet or farrier come out and find the location of the infection of it has not broken through and trim a hole/path for the infection to drain out. However, some abscesses erupt and break through on their own, not needing to have a hole/path cut to drain them.

    Once it is broke through and draining it is important to keep this area clean. Some people soak the foot in Epsom salts this is known the draw the infection out of the foot. This can be easily done by purchasing a soaking boot from your local tack store. These make the soaking process so much easier! Have you ever tried to get your horse to put its foot into a bucket to soak? Well, good luck, that’s a job in itself! Trust me the soak boots are a simple solution to a bigger potential headache.

    What causes abscess and how can they be prevented? Well, the most common cause is an irritation to the sole of the foot most commonly from a stone or something of that nature getting stuck in the foot. It can even be as simple as a bruise from a stone/rock from trail riding. Aside from that, another common cause is moisture whether there be too much or too little moisture. Finally, dirty stalls are horrible for horse’s feet and can bring about abscesses.

    If you pay attention and do your best to maintain healthy hoof care you should be fine. However, if your horse does get an abscess, just be sure to treat it accordingly and get it taken care of quickly.

    Wednesday, April 12, 2017

    Summer Horse Care

    Fresh Water: During the hot summer months, it is very important to keep your horse hydrated. Always provide access to clean and cool drinking water and keep your water tank somewhere that it doesn’t get direct sunlight. Putting out salt blocks can encourage your horse to drink; if your horse gets dehydrated, electrolytes are a good item to keep around the barn during the summer.

    Shade: On the hottest days of summer your horse should be provided an adequate amount of shade with a lean-to or tree. In some cases that shade cannot be provided. During turnout, you can stall your horse during the hottest times of the day with fans for airflow and switch turnout times to early morning, late evening or even overnight. Horses with white (usually white faces or nose) are at higher risk for sunburn sunscreen, UV Protecting sheets are a necessity.

    Protection from Bugs:
    • Fly Sheet
    • Fly Mask
    • Fly Spray
    • SWAT Fly Ointment
    • Fly Leg Wraps (optional)

    Exercise: Avoid exercising your horse during the highest heat of the day, early morning exercises and evening exercises are recommended. If you ride during the heat of day be sure to try and ride in wooded or shaded areas. Properly cool down your horse and even hose off. While hosing off, it is recommended to get your horse adjusted to the water, starting at the legs and slowly working your way up to the body. Hosing off also helps get off the sweat that attracts flies.

    Using a fly sheet helps protect your horse not only from bugs but also from the sun’s UV Rays that cause your horse’s coat to fade out and become dull. A fly mask will keep your horse comfortable as flies and bugs cannot get into their eyes causing irritation and watery eyes. I prefer to use fly masks with ears as they protect from bites that scab up and cause discomfort. To protect my horse to the fullest I used my Power Fly Spray (By Pyranha) to repel flies, mosquitoes, ticks and more!

    As an extra precaution, I like to keep SWAT Fly ointment in my first aid kit to protect wounds, cuts and irritated spots from dirt and disease carrying and to help repel bugs as well. Fly leg wraps aren’t a necessity except for some horses (mostly donkeys) that are sensitive to fly bites on their legs and become irritated, the fly leg wraps keep them comfortable and protected.


    Wednesday, March 29, 2017

    How to Turn Your Stirrups

    After a long trail ride and the resulting achy back or creaky knees, we all realize the importance of ergonomics. One of the most frustrating things about a saddle, especially for those riders with weak knees or ankles, can be unturned stirrups. How many times have you sat in your saddle, flailing your foot, searching for the stirrup? The problem is easy to solve if you know what to do.

    Many saddle manufacturers offer pre-turned stirrups, eliminating this problem right off the bat. Billy Cook and Crates saddles come with turned stirrups. Other companies, like Circle Y and Reinsman, have saddles built with such soft leather that is quite pliable, reducing the effort and time of turning the stirrups. But most manufacturers allow you to figure it out yourself. Some ask you to pay extra for the service. But with minimal time and effort, you can do it yourself. Try one of these easy ideas:


    There are a few products that you can easily attach to the fender to keep the stirrup permanently in the correct position. Stirrup Straight is attached between the fender and the stirrup with a stainless steel swivel in between. The stirrup will hang off-center, putting the fender and stirrup forward so that you can easily locate it and slide your foot into it.

    No more ankle and knee stress. No more groping around with your feet. However, a product like Stirrup Straight will add a couple inches to your fender length. Do add extra length.


    Most riders use the broom handle trick. To do this, follow these steps:

    Place your saddle on a saddle stand. Twist the stirrup to the desired position. Run a broom handle or s 2 x 4 through the stirrup under the saddle to the other stirrup. The pair should be resting the direction you want them to be while riding.

    Allow the saddle to rest in this position. It may take quite a while for the stirrups to end up staying this way. Many riders replace the broom handle after each riding session, and this keeps the stirrups trained. Additionally, you can add weight to the broomstick or 2x4 with bricks, blocks, or weights keeping the stirrups straight and trained at the same time.

    For a more permanent effect, some riders choose to wet the stirrup leathers, then let the broomstick rest in the stirrups until the leather dries. This nearly always permanently turns the leathers, eliminating the need to keep retraining the stirrups. To try this, remember to remove the stirrup leathers, use completely clean water, and apply leather conditioner during and after the process.

    However, remember that water is not good for leather, as it dries it out and allows the natural fats and conditioners to leave the leather. The more the leather gets wet, the more it loses its natural softness and flexibility. Some leather may also discolor if it gets wet.


    Try a twisting method that many saddle makers use. The following are directions for a permanent stirrup twist. You'll need an extra leather saddle string and an extra set of hands.


    1. Have your helper fold the stirrup leather in half with the backsides touching.

    2. Then take one end and put a single twist in it so that the front side of the end with the twist touches the back side of the end without the twist.

    3. Have your helper hold this firmly while you take the twisted end and wrap the leather saddle string around it so that the wrapped part takes the shape of a cylinder. Rewrap over the first tail end, then tuck the second end in securely when finished.

    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    How to Care for Your Saddle

    Your saddle purchased from us is made from hand selected saddle skirting leather, chosen for its durability and extreme strength. However, any leather must receive regular care to preserve this strength and long life. At least four times each year your saddle should be completely cleaned with a good soap or detergent, and then well oiled with a good neatsfoot oil.

    In wetter climates, this should be followed more often, as continued moisture is very harmful to leather. With a program of reasonable care, your saddle should last for many years. The products we use to clean and oil our saddles are listed below.


  • Do not store saddle in plastic or other non-porous covers.

  • Allow a wet or damp saddle to air-dry naturally away from any other source of heat. Apply a little Bick 4 leather conditioner when the saddle is nearly dry to restore flexibility. Condition thoroughly with Bick 4 when the saddle is completely dried.

  • To prevent mildew, protect the saddle from excessive humidity. In a dry environment, regularly condition the leather to prevent the saddle from drying out and cracking.

  • Do not use waxes, silicone or other leather preparations that impair the ability of the leather to "breathe".

  • Dubbins and greases are bad as they seal the pores and are greasy, thus picking up additional dirt and dust and slows drying time.

  • Never use caustic household chemicals to clean leather. Avoid leather preparations that contain alcohol, turpentine, or mineral spirits. We recommend Bick 1 as it is pH balanced to be compatible with leather.

  • Do not use mink oil or other animal fats. They will darken leather. Animal fat can also turn rancid, causing the stitching and leather to rot.
  • Tuesday, March 7, 2017

    How To Pick Out Your Best Friend

    Working with horse lovers all day long every day at my job I come across many first-time horse owners that have ended up with a horse that doesn’t suit them and or doesn’t want to do what they want them to. Purchasing a horse doesn’t have to be scary or a long and hard process. However, it may take time to find all those qualities you desire all in one package. But don’t worry the right one is out there somewhere. Here are a few things you need to consider when looking at horses.

    The most important thing to remember when purchasing a horse is to realize the seller’s idea of a “broke horse” and yours might be two different things. One man’s “kid broke horse” is another man’s “only broke for experienced rider’s horse”. It is important to look at overall health and soundness of the horse. Make sure you ask every question you can think of when it comes to health and care you can never ask too many.

    When going to ride a horse to potentially purchase you want to be sure it is trained in the areas you plan on doing with the horse unless you are buying a project horse. Be sure to ride the horse and run them through everything you intend to do with him/her. The way you click with a horse is extremely important as well. You want the horse to take all the cues you give to him/her and they react accordingly. Granted it is an animal and they will have their moments. But, if it is a problem on the first ride chances are they won’t work out for you in the long run.

    After you have ridden the horse and decide that it might be the one, be sure to evaluate the feet, teeth, ground manners, and habits. These are all crucial to how well the horse is going to fit in with you and react to certain things. Ground manners are huge. A horse that is pushing you around on the ground will more than likely not respect you in the saddle as well. It is important to remember to question everything you can think of.

    I know you are thinking this seems like a big task, and a lot is at stake when purchasing a horse. Take it from my example, when I bought my gelding Jazz I looked at over twenty horses trying to find the right one. But wow, am I glad that I waited for the right one because I share a bond with my horse like no other bond I have ever shared with any other animal. When you find the right one you will know.. Purchasing a horse can be stressful. However, keep in mind the right one is out there and do not settle for one... If you keep these few things in mind and keep an open mind as well then you are well on your way to finding your new furry best friend, which you hopefully will share an immense bond with.


    Wednesday, February 22, 2017

    Top 10 Saddle Fitting Myths

    The internet is chock full of information, but sometimes it can be frustrating not knowing what is true and what is not. Myths abound in the area of saddle fitting, and we sort through these myths with our customers on a daily basis. These myths can cause frustration as well as cost you money, so beware of the following:


    Quite a few times per week we find ourselves explaining that one size saddle does not fit all horses. This seems like basic information, but for a first-time horse owner, it can be baffling to find that not only do saddles come with different seat sizes for you, but they also come with different tree sizes for your horse. We tried to make a simple way for customers to measure their horses to find out what size bar they need and came up with our handy, printable gullet templates. Regardless of how much your horse weighs or how wide you think his back is, measuring just to make sure can save you the headache of returning an ill-fitting saddle.


    There is a rare exception to this myth, and that’s if you have two horses that are extremely similar in weight, back width, back length, and wither shape. But a mere 25 pounds in the wrong spot, a 3 inch shorter back, or a slightly higher wither can mean a saddle fitting one horse and hurting another. If you’re shopping for two horses, we recommend focusing on one horse at a time instead of trying to come up with a compromise between the two. Compromising saddle fit is, quite frankly, compromising your horse’s comfort and therefore, his behavior as well.


    Many horse owners think that putting a good saddle pad under an ill-fitting saddle will alleviate pinching, slipping, or uneven pressure. Good saddle pads can cause the saddle to fit better. There is much technology in the pad industry to help a saddle fit better and you should take advantage of that technology. Padding-up to help eliminate sores from a poor fitting saddle is not a good choice. For example, if a saddle is too narrow, padding up to buffer the pressure will make the horse wider which will cause more pressure.


    There are many variations to this myth. The truth is that the saddle industry uses terms loosely. Semi-quarter horse bars are often referred to as quarter horse bars, but others use the term quarter horse bars to describe wide bars, so the same saddle can be given different terms. This is very confusing to someone buying their first saddle. We’ve tried to wrestle this myth to the ground in our shop by standardizing our terms. We apply the term medium to regular, narrow, or semi-quarter horse bars and the term full to wide, full quarter horse bars.


    It’s surprising to find out that manufacturers do not have a standardized way to measure gullet width. Billy Cook may do it differently than Crates, so that if each company were to measure the same gullet, a different number might be the result. At the shop we built our own little tool to measure gullets. We measure each saddle by hand so that a standard of comparison between our saddles is achieved, no matter what manufacturer produced it. Most online saddle shops simply use the statistics that the manufacturers provide with each saddle, leaving you to guess how the numbers actually stack up.


    There’s no denying that the best way to see if a saddle will fit is to try it on your horse. Yet thankfully saddle fitting is not rocket science, and our customers have successfully fit thousands of “hard to fit” horses simply by using our downloadable templates and discussing the horse’s particular needs with a saddle expert. We’ve dealt with all sorts of conformations, from sway backed to high withered, and unless your horse has multiple unique issues, there’s no reason to think you can’t make a great choice online and save money over your local tack shop.


    With all the helpful articles on saddle fitting on the web today, it can feel like you have to know a textbook full of information to be able to select a well-fitting saddle. Many customers call feeling exasperated wondering, “Is it really THAT hard?” No, it isn’t. All you have to be sure of is your horse and your saddle needs---no one can be an expert on those two areas but you! We have several tips regarding this frustration. First, if you’re having a specific problem, like white hairs on your horse or saddle slippage, troubleshoot those areas first. Secondly, if you know your horse’s build and figure out what size tree will fit, half of your work is done. Most saddle fitting problems arise from a saddle that…doesn’t fit!


    If you went to Wal-Mart and were unable to find any clothes that fit, would you walk out convinced that you should pay exorbitant prices for custom-made designer clothes? Probably not. It’s the same with your horse. If you have a hard-to-fit horse and are having trouble finding a saddle that fits, it doesn’t mean you need to dish out more money. Have you thoroughly researched your horse’s specific needs? If you know exactly what you need but haven’t found it yet, give us a call. Not only do we have extensive experience fitting horses, but we also have the ability to tell you what can and can’t be done and at what price. We’re proud to be partnered with Dakota Saddlery, a quality company that does custom work for our shop. Dakota has always been willing to work with our customers and fit their specific needs at a low price.


    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.


    Can you get a high-fashion, well-fitting, sport coat for a very wide man? Nope. In the same way, a very wide horse is going to have to unfortunately admit he’s in the minority. Extra wide saddles are not impossible to come by, but you have a much more narrow selection. We recommend checking out Tucker trail saddles if you need an extra wide tree. The terms close contact and narrow twist refer to how you feel on the saddle. A close contact saddle with a narrow twist has less bulk and won’t spread the rider’s legs far apart. But a horse that is extra wide is not going to allow a close contact feel because of his broad back.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2017

    Stop the Squeak

    Like a steadily dripping faucet, there can be little as annoying as squeaking your way down the trail in your new saddle. At first the sound of new leather is rather gratifying; eventually it gets on your nerves. Those light colored show saddles are major culprits of saddle squeak, as the lack of natural oil that makes them light also lends to squeaky leather. Saddles usually squeak between the fender and the saddle tree.

    But there's an easy, inexpensive solution that won't take up much of your time. All you need is some baby powder. This will reduce friction between layers.


    • Lay an old blanket or tarp over the ground
    • Turn your saddle upside down on the blanket. Lay out the fenders and stirrups and expose the area under the jockey
    • Sprinkle all the areas that are layered against each other mainly the fenders, jockeys and between the skirts
    • Shake the saddle vigorously to make sure the powder gets in deep and coats all the areas where you placed it
    • Saddle your horse. Wipe up any excess powder. Ride on smelling baby fresh and enjoying the silence.

    Wednesday, February 8, 2017

    Ima Jazzy Zippo

    I often hear people telling me how their horse is just an animal and they don’t understand how someone can get so attached to a horse. I never knew how attached I could get to an animal until I got my horses! The bond I share with my horse is like no bond I’ve ever experienced before! Nothing can replace that bond.

    I have had a few horses over the course of my life. I had bonds with each of them. However, the strongest of those bonds didn’t come until December 17th of 2015. This was the day that I purchased my current horse Jazz. I had purchased horses before and have been just fine with them. But after buying Jazz, everything changed! I not only got a new horse but I gained a best friend! The relationship that he and I share is indescribable! I now know what everyone was telling me about the bonds they share with their horses.

    On December 17th I had looked at many horses and he was the last one on the list for the day’s road trip! As I pulled up, and walked into the barn I saw a girl brushing a tall, bay horse with two white socks and a white blaze! As he stood there patiently bobbing his head to the music playing overhead, I hoped and prayed that he and I would click! I mean after all who doesn’t want a horse with that much personality? I then saddled him and rode him around their indoor arena and fell in love with this big bay! It was at that moment that I knew I had to have him! This is the day that has given way to the great relationship I share with him today!

    The one thing that stands out the most about Jazz is his personality. He always keeps you laughing. When I have a bad day, all I have to do is walk by the pasture gate and he comes running to see me and shower me in horse kisses! (Whether that is because he likes to see me or wants a butterscotch treat I’m not sure). With him, there is never a fun shortage! For example, it was Halloween and I was out cleaning stalls and went to my truck to grab a pair of gloves and came across a bag of candy corn. I thought to myself as I watched Jazz stand patiently by the barn door, “hmm I wonder if he would like candy corn.” I grabbed one out of the bag and took it over to him. He took it from my hand gently… then looked at me, raised his lip and spit it straight out on the ground! It’s moments like these that I wouldn’t trade my time spent with my horse for anything!

    I’m so lucky to have the relationship that I do with him! I can only hope all you other horse lovers out there have the same relationship with your horses as I do mine, there really is nothing else like it!! No one understands the type of bond until they have themselves experienced it!


    Tuesday, January 31, 2017

    Ulcer Warning Signs

    Studies show that a high percentage of horses that travel frequently, are stalled frequently, or consume high levels of grains. High performance horses are at a higher risk of having ulcers. In mild cases of ulcers, the symptoms can be so minor you don’t even notice. More severe cases are much easier to identify.

    Signs of ulcers:
    • weight loss
    • acting up under saddle
    • cinchy, biting
    • not able to touch the stomach
    • teeth grinding
    • bad attitude
    • cribbing
    • high anxiety
    • loose stools
    • poor hair coat

    Some signs of ulcers can be easily confused with saddle fitting issues. The only sure way to know if your horses has ulcers is to have their stomach scoped by a veterinarian. Your horses stomach needs acid to digest food. They can produce up to 9 gallons of acid per day even when not eating. It is recommended to decrease the high levels of grains your horse is consuming and increase the amount of roughage per day. Using a slow feeder to feed you horse hay helps prevent waste, along with keeping your horses eating all day long and maintain a low acid level in the stomach.

    There are many great supplements on the market to help prevent ulcers or help your horses that have ulcers. Ask your trusted veterinarian what they recommend.

    Monday, January 30, 2017

    Are You A Fashion Guru?

        Every little girl's dream somehow involves fashion, right? Well maybe not quite all girls; I on the other hand had a different dream in which was being a horse trainer that had the passion to show both barrel and pleasure horses. However, at the age of 21 the only thing I have seemed to accomplish that is even remotely close to my dream was showing pleasure horses competitively. Since I was 17 months old, I have been in the show arena. Even though I do not remember what the show outfits looked like back in those days. Fashion doesn't just exist out on the runway, but does exist in the show arena.

    I do know that over the years, the show fashions have changed tremendously throughout my show career. I have had numerous outfits for each of my horses. The new norm seems to be that the nineties are coming back into the show pen: in wearing vests with a long sleeve button down shirt underneath which is a much cleaner look for women. Anymore you see the same outfit used in showmanship, horsemanship, and in western pleasure. By creating these outfits in multiple pieces not only does it save you money down the line, but it can be quite costly at the start. 

    When I was showing my horse Libby in small fry classes at that time, the outfits that were very popular were the fitted rhinestone jackets with dress type pants, along with the cheap sprayed painted cowboy boots to match your outfit color. There were a couple of years that I remember most exhibitors wore customized monogram starched shirts with cowboy boots, cowboy hats, and chaps to complete their outfit. Lucky for today's exhibitor, you can still be tried and true when picking your outfit(s) of choice. The most common outfit that is worn for western pleasure, trail, and western riding is a fitted jacket with a color that looks good on your horse. For showmanship and horsemanship, your safest choice is to keep it classy and traditional with a good fit.  

    All in all, just remember to create and or find outfit(s) that fit you the best and the color that is best fit for your horse. My mom and I find show saddle pads that have color variety, then we customize my outfits based on the saddle pad design to ensure that my horse and I are always riding in style. 


    Monday, January 23, 2017

    Just Horsin’ Around: Trailer Packing Checklist 101

    Packing my bags is easy, but when it comes to packing the horse trailer, that is another story! Over the year of my family and I hitting up the local and state campgrounds or hauling to weekend show grounds to compete, we’ve tried numerous ways to organize our trailer. This might seem easy to most, however you will soon realize having horses can be a real chore. Below you will find the trailer checklist my family and I use on a daily basis when show and camping season is in full swing.

    The Essentials
    • Coggins & health certificate
    • Wheel chocks
    • First Aid Kits (Equine & Human)
    • Camp / Show Information & directions
    • Vehicle equipment

    Horse Equipment
    • Hay (Number of Hay Bales ____)
    • Feed & scoop w/ large FILLED water jugs
    • Salt blocks/ extra tack
    • Hay bags / Lead ropes / Leather hole punch
    • Manure fork / Bucket
    • Shavings & foam squares
    • Picket line / Grooming Tote which includes (brushes, combs, hoof picks, etc.)
    • Saddles / Saddle Pads / Saddles Racks / Saddle Bags / Blankets
    • Girths / Shipping Boots & Leg Wraps
    • Fly Protection (Mask, Spray, Sheet)

    Vehicle Equipment
    Give thought to what you carry such as:
    Jumper cables, reflective wear, oil, towels, tool box, tire tool, tire jack, trailer ramp, etc.

    Camping Equipment
    • Sleeping Bags / Blankets / Sheets / Pillows
    • Outdoor Extension Cords
    • Flashlights / Lantern / Lamp Oil
    • Grill / Firewood / Fuel / Stove
    • Matches / Lighter / Gas
    • Fan / Heaters
    • Chairs / Table / Tablecloth
    • Cooler (w/ Food & Drinks)
    • Cooking Utensils
    • Plates / Cups / Silverware
    • Dish Soap / Garbage Bags
    • Paper Towels / Toilet Paper
    • Hammer / Screw Driver / Shovel
    • Level boards to level trailer
    • Extra rope & ties

    • Boots (Riding/Rubber)
    • Jeans
    • T-Shirts / Flannels / Vest
    • Underwear / Socks
    • Sweatshirts / Lightweight Jackets / Heavy Jackets
    • Rain Gear (Ponchos)
    • Gloves
    • Chaps / Hat / Hunt Cap
    • Shower Shoes
    • Swim Suit

    Odds & Ends
    • Reflective Gloves & Wear
    • Toiletries / Personal Care Items
    • Soap / Shampoo / Razor / Make-up
    • Deodorant / Toothpaste / Toothbrush
    • Medication / Towels & Wash Cloths
    • Aspirin / Pocket Knife / Mirror
    • Extra Batteries
    • Video Camera / Cell Phone / Charger
    • Insect Repellent / Bee Sting Medication
    • Sunscreen / Sunglasses / Reading Glasses
    • Duct Tape / Gorilla Glue
    • Safety Pins / Sharpie Markers
    • Clock / Watch / Compass / Map
    • Zip-lock Bags
    • Dog Food / Water Bowl / Leash & Cable
    • Hands-wipes
    • Riding Helmet

    Thursday, January 12, 2017

    Breaking Out Lacy

    One of my favorite and most memorable experiences in the equine world would have taken place in July of 2016. I had been searching for another horse online and had found a 2-year-old Bay Roan Quarter Horse that I loved. I decided to contact the seller and see if she was available and two days later I headed down to Tennessee.

    It was 11 hours one way to drive there and look at a horse I had never seen before, but as soon as I saw "Lacy" I knew she was coming home with me. In the first 5 minutes her quirky personality drew me to her. Purchasing this 2-year-old filly has been the greatest learning experience for me. After a few weeks of ground manners and desensitizing with a tarp, I decided that she was ready for a saddle.

    Breaking out Lacy has been so rewarding. In the first few months of training she has already been trail riding and camping. In the next year or two my plan is to start training Lacy for barrel racing. This was my very first time breaking out a horse on my own, but I am very pleased with the results, and I would do it all over again. The bond we have is unbreakable, Lacy doesn’t act like a horse she acts more like my pet dog.

    - Rachael