Trail Riders Top Five Saddle Picks
Comfort, Quality and Value
Trail riders probably spend more hours at one time in the saddle than any other horse owners, except maybe working cowhands. Comfort for rider and horse are top requisites when they buy a saddle, with price right behind comfort. Through a quick survey on a few horse forums and some internet research I have come up with five saddle makers that provide comfort, quality and value.
Wintec All Purpose
Wintec All Rounder Western Saddles with size 16" seats. The Wintec All Rounder Western Saddle is made of Equileather, a leather-like synthetic material. It comes in black or brown, with a square skirt. They do not have saddle strings. Wintec does not distribute the Wintec western saddle in the US. It is distributed by Partrade.
Other saddles well suited for trail riding by Wintec are their Australian style stock saddles, the Pro Stock CS and the Pro Endurance. The Wintec Pro Stock CS is Wintec's top of the line stock saddle, moderately priced at $1,165. The Wintec Pro Endurance retails at $1100. Both saddles get good reviews for comfort and durability with features including the Cair Panel System, Easy-Change Gullet System, and the flexible Wintec Tree with a lifetime guarantee.
Big Horn's Cordura Trail Saddle got votes for economy, toughness, and comfort by several trail riders questioned. Big Horn's Cordura Trail Saddle #501 is a lightweight trail saddle in the $320-$360 price range depending on the size. The padded suede seat gives the rider security and comfort. The stirrup fenders are free swinging to allow the rider freedom of joint movement and foot placement. This saddle weights about 15 pounds with a Ralide® tree. The saddle comes in a choice of black or brown.
Tucker and High Horse
Tucker Saddles get rave reviews from those who own one, but the price for a Tucker Trail Saddle is close to $2000. Anne Fordyce, marketing media manager of Tucker Saddles suggests High Horse Trail Saddle, which is made in the same Yoacum, Texas factory as Tucker and Circle Y. This saddle retails at about half the price of the Tucker. It is available with a tooled-leather or a smooth rough-out model. The tree is Ralideý and has a five-year guarantee.
Allegany Mountain Trail Saddle All Cordura
Allegany Mountain Trail Saddles
This small saddle maker in Upstate New York makes handcrafted, quality saddles that are moderately priced. Testimonies and reviews give these saddles high marks for comfortable fit both for horse and rider and for excellent customer service. The company uses saddle designs from second and third generation Amish craftsmen. They are built one at a time from hand picked leather, on Steele trees, with brass and stainless steel hardware. They will customize on request.
The Whisper Lite Series, priced at $765, is made of Cordura and a leather hybrid, and weighs only 21 pounds.
For leather lovers they have many models. The Plantation Trail may be the perfect choice for lightweight in a leather saddle. It weighs 24 pounds and is price starts at $895. The Renegade Endurance saddle price also starts at $895 and weighs 20 pounds without the stirrups.
Bob Marshall Treeless Sports Saddles
The saddles invented and developed by Bob Marshall fifteen years ago cost between $945 and $1600 and every saddle is made to order. That price may be over budget for most trail riders, but if you have a hard to fit horse it may be worth it. They weight fifteen to twenty-one pounds depending on the model. These saddles are said to be very comfortable for the horse and rider.
The reason for this comfort is the way the saddle conforms to the shape of the horse's back. Bob Marshall writes, "The Sports Saddle will fit more horses than any other saddle on the market that I have seen. The front part of the tree being independent of the rear or cantle section, it is free to conform to different width shoulders and different height withers of many horses because the angle of the tree bars is not rigidly set as in regular saddles. When cinched down the tree angle automatically conforms to the horse's shoulders."