western saddles

Guide to Buying Used Saddles Part 3

This is the last article in our Guide to Buying Used Saddle series, and if you have already gone through the last two articles I hope you found them useful.  In this article, I will go over some key areas to look for when assessing any possible repairs that may need to be performed on a used saddle that you are considering to purchase. Continue reading

Guide to Buying Used Saddles

Whether you are looking to buy a used saddle from an individual or from a retail store that sells used saddles, it’s a good idea to do some research in some key areas of the used saddle market.  This guide to buying used saddles will get you started on the road to buying a quality used saddle.  The first thing to understand is what makes a “good used saddle.”  For me the definition of a good used saddle has three key qualities that I’m looking for when purchasing:

  • Making sure the saddle tree is not broken
  • Knowing what brand the saddle is and whether it is worth repairing
  • The price of the saddle compared to the market value

Continue reading

Cutting Ears on Custom Saddles

One of the most difficult steps in building custom saddles is fitting the saddle seat and cutting the ears.  In this post I will show you my trick for insuring that every saddle ear you cut will be perfect.  Whether you are a beginner or you are a seasoned veteran, this tip will take the fear out of tackling this step.  There are many different ways to accomplish this, but here is my process. Continue reading

Saddle Pads and Padding

How many different types and brands of saddle pads or blankets have you bought in the last five years?

These days we have an overwhelming selection of different styles, materials, and promises amongst saddle pads and blankets that it is hard to make a choice.  The most asked question in our shop from customers is what kind of saddle pad they should be using.  This usually gets into a lengthy conversation on my saddle padding philosophy and so we will discuss some of the key areas and hopefully this will help to answer some of you questions on the right padding for your horse. Continue reading

Big Loop Ground Seats

Here is a quick run down of what projects are in process within the custom saddle department of our shop (this department consisting of Jim and I, ha ha): we have four customers’ orders from our list, each different and uniquely complex, two ranch saddles for the All Around Performance Horse crew (due in two weeks), and all fourteen of the Big Loop saddles.  This is all happening at the same time that the rest of the shop is busy on multiple belts, wallets, scabbards, holsters, saddle repairs and handling customers on a daily basis.  The oppurtunity for chaos is so great that it makes for an exciting work week this time of year.

My goal this week was to finish all the ground seats for the Big Loop saddles and get horns started.  Some of the saddles

saddle tree and ground seat
Working hard on the Big Loop saddles

had been started already, some ground seats were done and I wanted to get them all done completely so that Jim could focus on getting the All Around saddles to a point where I could get to tooling fronts or swells (my favorite… not).  Starting Monday with that goal in mind, I made progress and got all the ground seats completed by the end of the week.  Since this is usually the part that Jim takes care of, I was sure to check with him off and on to insure that I was putting the ground seats in the way he had been doing them.  It took me a couple times and a bit of Jim giving me hell, but in the end I got them all in.

Even though Jim and I both build saddles, we each do things a little different and consistency is what we want especially with this project.  For the last couple years, our partnership on saddle making has been him building and me tooling/designing all the artwork.  He is much faster than me at building and I am much faster than him at tooling, so this arrangement works well.  Since these are all rough out, and there is fourteen of them, I have custom saddle seatsto help him with a lot of the building and keeping up with changes he has made all year is something I have to be mindful of.  Even though my name is on the sign and stamp, Jim has the lead on this project… And I think he takes a little pleasure in bossing me around.

As the week went along uneventful and productively, it didn’t start off that great.  By Monday afternoon we were met with 85 degree temperatures in the shop.  Our air conditioner was froze up and not cooling at all.  Thinking back on the last few weeks, we realized that the filters hadn’t been changed and they really needed it.  In a shop like ours the dust can get pretty bad due to the sanding from the finisher so we have to change filters every two weeks or so.  It wasn’t till Tuesday afternoon late when our AC repair guys got us back up and running… till then we just tried not to drip sweat on the leather.

As we set now: ground seats are done, all the horns are cut out and skived, no major mistakes as of yet, a few shop pranks (involving an air horn) were conducted and the new guys haven’t quit yet.  It’s still early with lots left to do…


What seat size should you ride?

The most common question we get among customers in our shop is about what seat size they should ride. In our experience most people are confused about this issue and many times they are riding too big a seat.

The most common size ridden is a 15 1/2″. This, in my opinion, is do to the used saddle market being flooded with trophy saddles and making them readily available with minimal investment. When clubs and organizations purchase saddles to give away as awards at their events, 15 1/2″ seats are a normal size to go with because they will work for most people. This does not mean that most people should ride this size, it simply means it will work. Continue reading