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