Western Saddle Shopping

As I’m getting into the swing of things this summer and starting to pull my mare out of the pasture for the first time in 3 years (has it really been that long?!?), I’m also re-evaluating my tack, particularly my saddle.  Last time I did much riding I had an outdoor ring at my disposal, but now I’ve moved and don’t have a confined area, aside from a pasture, to ride in.  So instead I want to venture out and do some trail riding.  The problem is I don’t have a western saddle.  Not a huge deal to some, except that’s what I grew up riding and am more comfortable in.  Particularly for not having ridden in so long and being “out on the open road”.

I’ve found a used Circle-Y Park and Trail at the local tack shop that I just tried out today and it fits both me and my horse well.  However, it’s a bit more than I expected to pay.  The upside is it’s got a bit of silver and could possibly be used to show in.  Here’s a saddle on ebay that’s very similar, although in slightly nicer condition: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=200469709683&fromMakeTrack=true&ssPageName=VIP:watchlink:top:en

So here’s my question (finally).  How important IS a fancy western saddle for showing?  The 2 big thoughts in my mind right now are 1) A judge should NOT penalize someone for not having as fancy of a saddle as the next person (although I don’t know how true that holds, even if it isn’t intentional).  2) Showing up in the “correct” equipment shows your prepared and take pride in exhibiting.  But some of us just can’t afford to drop $3K on a saddle that only makes an appearance a few times a year.  I’ve looked through some photo proofs from this year’s shows for reference and all the saddles I’ve seen so far are much fancier than this one.  I don’t expect to be going OKC with this saddle.  But how high could I go with it and have it considered acceptable?  Locally (that’s pretty much a given)?  A-Rated?  Regional?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

6 Responses to Western Saddle Shopping

  1. 1light says:

    Never fear! I don’t know what the standard “acceptable” is, but I have a saddle with about that much silver and I’ve taken it to OKC and gotten a few top 3 and top 5′s with it. Maybe some judges or others looked down on me for it, but it is the saddle I have and I don’t expect to get another one anytime soon, so I just cleaned it up really well and showed it with pride, you know?

  2. RaeOfLight says:

    Thanks for the info! The ebay saddle is actually in nicer condition than the one I currently have on trial, and CHEAPER! So I might end up going with that one. But then I hit the opposite problem where I feel a little bit bad taking it out on trail! :)

  3. nco4242 says:

    You will love that saddle. I have one, it is so comfortable. I have shown all over my area in morgan and open shows and it had enough flash to do the job. The price is fair as well.

  4. jns767 says:

    My saddle is similar to that as well. Mine’s an Equitation seat, vintage-y Circle Y. It’s got similar tooling and maybe just a bit more silver. I even still have the hobbles and lariat (latigo)? on it. In my humble opinion, it looks just fine!

  5. Vintage_Rider says:

    Most good tack/leather stores also sell silver to add to the saddle if you are so inclined. About $100.

  6. PlayMorBill says:

    You’ll be happier if you buy a true trail saddle, but if you must buy a dual purpose saddle, take the silver off between shows. You’ll thank me when you get to OKC.

    As for whether silver on a western saddle has anything to do with pinning a class, a judge only has moments to spot, assess, and score (place) an entry before he/she/it must move on to the next horse. That first impression means everything, and a lot of silver helps support that first opinion. Fancy is good, albeit, expensive.

    Remember: These are show horses. At Oklahoma, they need to be at their showiest.


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