Ain't nuthin like ridin' a fine horse in a new country - Augustus McCrae – Lonesome Dove

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Saddle Trees~

Mine on the left, more "standard" tree on the right~
Again - I find that the more I thought I might know about saddle trees - the less I really did!  What an interesting process this is becoming.
Cantle view - Mine on the right
I've been referred to this link for a education in how Western Saddles are made.   American Saddle Makers Association.

Pommel view - My tree on the left.
What we noticed is that my tree had almost no angle to the bars...  much flatter than in a standard tree & very little flare.  The bars are also too long - creating some bridging.  The gullet may actually have been too wide, which allowed the saddle to drop in front - causing the shimmy in back & lack of contact there.

There's very little twist - not what I had ordered.  The pommel size of my saddle, narrower - & the shorter bars in front of it - are what is fairly common in an "endurance" saddle.  Western saddles have a wider swell, or at least that's my understanding as of today.
Rear view - mine on the right
Not many people have a custom saddle torn down - so you don't often have the opportunity to see what's inside.  I enjoyed my conversation with Randy of Timberline Trees today.  He said that we breed the type of horse that we use for the part of the country we're riding in, along with the job that they're intended to do.  If I'd shipped my saddle down to Texas - for instance - it might have sold.  There - where the terrain is relatively flat, the horses are built broader, with much lower withers.  Riders aren't concerned with saddles slipping up over the withers - since there are no steep mountains to climb or slide down.  As those of us in the more mountainous areas of the country know - we need those withers to keep the saddle in place & us with it!

As a horse ages & the miles start adding up - their back will respond by hollowing a little at the wither & becoming more defined.  With all the variables involved - it's difficult to find any one saddle that will work for all.  (We don't all wear the same kind or size of shoe.)

The next step in the process - the tree is being shipped to Randy - so that he can take it, along with Farah's measurements to produce a raw tree.  (The original tree is important - in that the hope is to re-use the leather that was on the saddle to save $.)   Once the raw tree is made - Randy will ship it back to Everett, so he & I can check the fit & make any adjustments - before the tree is completed.  This will take a bit longer - but at least we'll be sure of the fit.  There is little bar difference between my "endurance" tree & a "standard" one.  

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