Different Types Of Saddles
Updated: Jan 30
Every saddle is designed for something specific. Learn what the different types are here and help determine what you might need!
Why Are There So Many Options?
Just like shoes, saddles are designed to assist the rider (and horse) in a specific way. For example, cleats are worn to give an athlete better traction in dirt or grass whereas basketball shoes help keep players from sliding across the court floor. They are both examples of athletic shoes but are designed for a different purpose.
Most Common Designs
Our most commonly built saddles are the Cutter, Ranch Cutter, Cowhorse, Ranch Rider, and the Reiner. These are all western saddles, and more specifically used on performance horses. But what's the difference?
Most cutters will be designed in two different ways: the old school flat seat or the more modern deep pocket seat. One will find very polarizing opinions when it comes to the rider's preference on the seat type. I refer to have more of a rise in the seat of my cutter. Regardless of seat preference, the cutter is designed with a tall, narrow horn. This allows the rider to fully grip the horn and push up against it. The swells tend to be wider to help catch the rider's leg. The rider can use the swell to lean against a bit if need be.
The Ranch Cutter
The ranch cutter is designed very similar to the cutter. However, our ranch cutter is almost always built with a deeper pocket unless specifically changed through a custom order. The horn on the ranch cutter is just as tall as the cutter's horn, but the neck is thicker, the horn cap is bigger, and the horn is reinforced with larger rivets that makes it capable of withstanding the impact of roping.
The cowhorse has the deepest seat of all the saddles we build. Balance is a key factor in the equation of working cattle, and this saddle is designed to keep the rider centered in the seat and secure. Being centered and secure allows a rider to confidently take a cow down the fence and stay in the middle of the seat. This saddle also works well for novice riders as the deep pocket keeps the rider in a correct position. The higher rise also helps create the ability to carve in a narrow twist, so this saddle is often something that women in general get along with.
The reiner is great for the reining or ranch riding pen. I personally prefer a closer contact feel and build a deeper pocket in my reining saddles. The horn is lower profile to keep out of the way of the rein-hand, and the pommel is usually a bit more narrow as the saddle is not meant to be roped off of. These saddles have a bit more flair and creativity involved in the design process. Showing in the reining allows the performance horse rider the ability to express their personality a bit more through their saddle!
The Ranch Rider
The ranch rider was designed by me to be the perfect blend of cow and show. Take it into the reining pen, cross over into the ranch classes, and finish the day in the cattle classes! The saddle has the lower swell of the reiner, but uses the same horn as the cowhorse saddle giving it the ability to be roped out of. The rise is high like the cowhorse giving it a deep pocket feel, but the lower swell gives the rider the ability to jump into the reining and ranch riding pens without worrying about the swell height interfering with their rein hand. This is also another great saddle that lets the rider design something mild to wild and stand out in all arenas!
Choosing What Works For You and Your Horse
The best way to choose what will work for you is to first consider what you’re doing. Are you learning, showing, training, etc. What discipline are you in, or what do you want to do in the next couple of years. Consider what has worked for you so far with other saddles and what isn’t. Also think about what you would like your next saddle to feel like or what you would like it to assist you with.
Finally, consider how your horse is built. Some horses will fit a lower pommel saddle better than a taller one. Some horses can fit a few different types of saddles. Regardless, be sure to ask questions and do the research before deciding what you want to purchase or order.