A Lesson in Saddle Quality

Saddle Up – A Lesson in Quality

From the back of a horse, wars have been waged, fought and won.  The horse has carried riders across vast, dangerous land just to deliver mail.  And from atop the horse cowboys from the old west made their living and just plain survived.  Yes, the horse is deeply etched into the history of America, much like the tooling on a finely made saddle.  The very same saddles carried by horses throughout history as man first began to appreciate the softness of good leather, the utility of a sturdy horn, and the balance afforded by a solid set of stirrups.  Today, horses have become more of a sport than a means to survival, but a quality saddle is still essential to a good ride.

Quality vs. Quantity

Not all leather is created equal, and there are parts of a cowhide that aren’t suited for saddle making.  The thickest part of the hide is along the animals back and at it’s best, will be uniform and strong- perfect for high-wear parts of a saddle.  When making a saddle, the emphasis should be on quality- using the best, thickest pieces of leather.  Not quantity-using thin, easily wrinkled parts of the hide to churn out as many saddles as possible. 

Check Your Tree

It’s called a tree for a reason.  Most quality saddles have a wooden tree covered by rawhide.  A solid tree is the hallmark of a quality saddle-it ensures the correct fit to the horse, and the overall strength of the saddle as a whole. Foam trees and other synthetic options are not solid and should be over-looked when saddle shopping for any purpose.  Certain events such as roping require a high quality tree to be successful and safe.  A foam tree in a team roping event is highly dangerous to horse and rider. 

Quality-Worth it’s Weight

Quality weighs something.  If the highest quality materials are used to make a saddle, that saddle will have some weight to it.  Thick leather, solid wooden trees, sturdy riggings-they all have weight.  Pick a saddle up before purchasing.  If you can toss it on the back of a horse with a couple fingers, the quality is suspect.  A heavier saddle may seem undesirable when you’re trying to throw it on the back of a tall horse-but that weight means that saddle is put together well.  That weight equals safety, durability and longevity. 

Signs of a Quality Saddle

On a well-made saddle two layers of leather are used to make the skirt.  Today, many manufacturers are scrimping on this angle by using pressed paper between the first layer of leather and the fleece.  This means the D-ring is being held in place 50% by paper-not a good idea.  A quality saddle will also have thick fleece on the underside, unlike many poorer made imitations, which are so thin you can see the paper through the fleece.  Finally, a quality saddle will have good hardware.  Hardware on low quality saddles is usually made of a low cost metal such as nickel, which rusts easily.

Saddles have been around for hundreds of years and have evolved steadily during that time.  But a few things haven’t changed.  A quality saddle will always be made of “real” material, not man made synthetic substitutes.  A quality saddle will “feel” good under your fingers as you adjust the stirrups and against your legs as you ride. A quality saddle will move and breathe and become a part of you and your horse.  A quality saddle will give you a good ride.

If you are looking for great quality, balanced with a great price, then look us up at JCM Saddle shop where we excel in creating the finest saddles without breaking the bank.

 Copyright JCM Inc.