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Last updated: March 20, 2021
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A ranch saddle is a real work saddle. You will find them under the names “cowboy,” “buckaroo,” “old-time,” “Western,” and “all-around” saddles. Each name indicates differences in design. Their common features are their weight and solidity. They are designed for uses that last several hours. Their purpose is for comfort, ruggedness, and functionality. Would you like to get the best ranch saddles that can withstand rigorous riding? We have compiled a list of the best heavy-duty ranch saddles.
In choosing these models, we considered useful features such as the quality of the material, the size, stirrup, horn, swell, gullet, cantle, skirt, color, and weight. In addition to the review is a comparison table of the best models as well as a buying guide for curious riders. Continue with the comparison table.
The Open Store model is a wade tree roping saddle that is made from thick and natural leather from cow skin. It features a suede seat that offers a perfect grip when roping cattle. The saddle has a classic design. It features shiny silver as well as several ties for attachment of accessories.
For extra durability and stability, it has a pie horn, which is reinforced by a wrapping of mule hide. It has a well-padded and fleeced underside for optimal comfort. Asides the cowhide leather, the saddle’s tree is made of a wooden base that is wrapped in a fiberglass material. The roping ranch saddle also features a stainless steel material.
The Orlov Hill Leather Co Roper Ranch Western saddle is also made of a 100% natural leather. It has a nylon reinforcement as well as stainless tree materials. In addition to the leather and nylon materials, the saddle’s tree is made of a wooden base that is wrapped in fiberglass material.
The horn is wrapped in suede and well-reinforced for extra durability and stability. The roping saddle has a basket weave with an oil designed leather. It also has a well-padded and fleeced underside for extra comfort. The tree, which is made of a wood base and fiberglass materials, is light in weight. It is well-made for extra strength. The fenders have nylon reinforcements, adding strength to the stirrups. Overall, it’s one of the best wade ranch saddles on the market.
Buying high-quality western ranch saddles doesn’t have to mean parting with top dollars! Even though most saddlers on the market come at a high price, the Orlov Hill Leather Co PRO Western Roping Ranch Saddle is reasonably priced. Best of all, it still features materials and designs found in high-end models. The saddle is a wade-type Western one with 100% real leather.
Despite being a budget-friendly saddle, the western saddle is also attractive. It features hardware made of stainless steel material, as well as other decorative patterns and designs. These, therefore, give the saddle a classic cowboy appearance. The product is ideal for uses such as pleasure riding and trail riding.
The best youth ranch saddle on the market, this western saddle, is a product of Manaal Enterprises. This model differentiates from the earlier products because it features a thick premium-grade and real skirting leather. The wade tree A-fork roper has a beautiful leather design thanks to its tooling, which is carved by hand and made of cowhide leather.
For the best grip, while roping your cattle, the seat is made of suede. You’ll receive a matching headstall, bread collar, and reins for free. Note that the cinches and horse-bit are sold separately. Made in India, the Manaal Enterprise brand guarantees 100% safe and fast shipping anywhere in the world.
Available in different size options, the ME Enterprises Western Roping Ranch Saddle has a beautiful dark chestnut color. This hand-carved ranch work saddle is made of a heavy-duty leather from cowhides. The ranch saddle’s tree is made of a wooden base that is wrapped in fiberglass material. It also has stainless steel material hardware as well as other decorative patterns and designs that enhance its overall appearance.
It comes with a matching breastplate, headstall, and ties, which can be practical for attaching accessories. This model is similar to the Orlov Hill Leather Co Roper Ranch saddle and the Open Store Western Roping Ranch Saddle. The horn is wrapped in suede and well-reinforced for extra durability and stability. The roping saddle also has a basket weave with an oil designed leather. It also has a well-padded and fleeced underside for extra comfort. The unique selling point which differentiates it from the former is that it comes in different size models. These range from the choice of a 14-inch seat to one of 17.5 inches.
What we liked:
Seven size variants
100% cowhide leather
What could be better:
Not a ranch roping saddle
Question mark on its safety
Back cinch and bit not included
Things to Consider
Getting the best cowboy ranch saddles doesn’t stop at just randomly picking from our list of recommended models. You have to choose a saddle that fits your situation by checking out some criteria and having some useful knowledge. From the features to consider before buying a ranch saddles to a series of frequently asked questions, you cannot be wrong in the choice of the model you make hereafter, after going through this section.
What is a ranch saddle?
The ranch saddle is a real working saddle. It is used to work on cattle ranches across the United States, particularly in the west. They are the “cowboy” saddles we are so familiar with from the movies. The ranch saddle was designed to give the rider safety and comfort during long hours on horseback. Although some consider it original from the United States, its origins go back to Arab horseback riders and warriors of the middle ages. When the Moors invaded Spain in 711, they brought with them a unique riding style. The Spanish saddles of that time were designed for battle, with high sheepskin for protection and safety. They had longer stirrups to accommodate the armor.
Features to consider when choosing ranch saddle
Check out, in this subsection, a list of features and criteria you must consider before choosing your next ranch saddle.
Material and color
Leather saddles are the basis of the ranch saddle tradition. Their strength, durability, flexibility, smell, and appeal make leather the best material for making saddles. The question is not whether the best saddles are quality leather. Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t really know anything about saddles. This doesn’t mean that synthetic saddles don’t have their uniqueness. It just means that they don’t measure up in terms of strength and life expectancy. Can you imagine a cowboy on a synthetic saddle?
It takes the equivalent of all the leather of an entire animal to make a saddle. The thicker leathers are used for quarters and prepared in tanneries, leathers known as “sides.” Quarters come in different weights (thickness) and qualities. Thick leather is used for critical, heavy parts such as fenders, stirrups, seats. Lighter leather is used for areas where it has to adapt to the different shapes of the fork, cantle, or stirrup covers.
The seat of the roping ranch saddles or a western saddle is probably the most essential part for the rider. It will determine, for the most part, the comfort they’ll get for long hours of using the saddle. It all begins with the “ground seat.” This ground seat is attached to the tree and is the structure on which the finished seat is built. This part is invisible on the finished saddle. But it controls the place of the horse you are sitting on as well as the comfort. The ground seat is usually made of leather, metal, a combination of the two, or composite material.
The quality ground seats will be slightly curved to follow the shape of the pelvis. Poor quality seats are flat, and you will feel like you are sitting on a board. You may not enjoy spending hours on it. A well-designed seat will also be narrower in the front so that the legs are closer to the horse.
Examining a saddle seat will tell you a lot about its quality and the skill of the maker. Lower quality saddles use two pieces of leather. A padding then hides the seam.
The padded seats have developed a lot and are present on many saddles. However, a padded seat is not the solution to an uncomfortable seat. The problem is not the softness of the seat but its design. If the seat has been designed to adapt to the rider’s morphology, it will be comfortable whether or not it is padded. Of course, it will take a few hours for novice riders for their muscle pain to disappear; nothing will be able to prevent this. But then you will find that a well-designed saddle is quite comfortable.
When choosing working ranch saddles, look for a model with a wide range of sizes, such as the ME Enterprises Western Roping Ranch Saddle.As far as size is displayed, it seems easy to choose the right size. This is, unfortunately, not the case. Try the same size of different types of saddles or from a different manufacturer, and you will find out you do not feel the same. This difference is because other factors come into account at the level of the seat:
Seat depth: Some saddles have deep seats that allow you to stay in place. Meanwhile, others have flatter seats giving you more freedom of movement.
Seat slope: The angle of the seat from the back to the cantle can be very different from one model to another.
The slope of the cantle: The cantle can be vertical or sloping more or less accentuated.
Cantle Dish (depth of cantle): The cantle can be flat or rounded at the more or less deep front
Fork type: The range of forks is extensive. There are those with very wide swells to slick fork without any edge
Fork angle: The forks can be straight or angled away from the rider.
In the end, there is only one way to be sure you have the right size: to sit on it!
The “gullet” is the empty part or space under the crotch above the horse’s withers. The shape of the fork and the saddle bars angle determine the gullet’s width and height. The gullet must leave enough space above the tourniquet. If the height is too low, the saddle will rub against the horse’s withers. If the width is too large, the saddle will be placed too low on the horse’s shoulders and again rub the horse’s withers. A horse injured at the withers is not a happy horse. A tip to check the size: leave between 2 and 4 fingers between the withers and the gullet.
Unfortunately, there is no standard measurement for gullets. Each manufacturer will measure it differently. Remember that the gullet measurement is made on the bare tree and not on the finished saddle. Once the saddle is made, you have no way of measuring the width of the gullet.
The cantle is the vertical part at the back of the seat. It is an essential part of the tree since it holds the bars. It also provides support for the rider’s back and increases security. This prevents him from sliding towards the back.
Many characteristics exist for the cantle:
Height: on the saddles of yesteryear, it measured 12 to 15 centimeters high. At the moment, the cantle measures about 10 cm, except for competition saddles (cutting and roping). This often only measures 5 cm.
Tilt or angle: This can be light, medium, or strong. Most saddles today have an average incline.
Dish: The depth of the recess on the jumper side can go from 5 cm to no indentation. The most common is a recess of 2.5 to 1.2 cm.
Skirts are large pieces of thick leather attached under the saddle bars. Their purpose is to:
Protect the horse from the bars.
Distribute the rider’s weight over a larger area.
Protect the rider from the horse’s perspiration.
Skirts are made of two pieces of thick leather laced at the back. They are fixed to the bars with screws and nails and held in place with the leather straps. There are two shapes of skirts: round and square. The round skirt is often called “California skirt.” They are very popular in this condition and lightens the size of the saddle. The square skirt, known as the “Texas skirt,” is more traditional. It offers more protection to the horse against bushes and thorns. Lately, round skirts have become very popular.
Underneath the skirt is a sheepskin lining. This lining provides a soft layer between the horse and the saddle. But, above all, it allows more grip with the mat. Sheepskin can be natural or synthetic. Natural sheepskin is thicker and more durable but attracts insects and rodents. Synthetic skin is not as thick, but it is cheaper and does not attract pests. On many skirts, you will find a “dee” ring on the front to attach a hunting collar. On some skirts, you will also find a “wear leather,” a piece of leather placed under the ring to protect them.
Fenders are the long pieces of leather that lie under the rider’s leg. They are designed to protect the leg from the sweat of the horse. Since fenders are severely tested, they need to be made of thick, premium leather. There are many shapes and sizes of fenders. A well-designed saddle will ensure that the fenders are harmonious with the rest of the saddle. For example, with a round skirt, the fenders will have rounded corners. The fender is tapered at the top to reduce the bulk under the jockey and the legs idnrjerider’s legs. This shape also allows the stirrup leathers to be free. At the bottom of the fender, there is a vertical strip or extension. On modern saddles, this extension is cut in the same room as the fender. This extension creates a space between the stirrup and the bottom of the fender, allowing the stirrup to be free.
The fenders are fitted to the stirrups using one of three methods:
Old Style: The entire length of the stirrup rests on the fender. This type of fender is found on the Buckaroos saddles.
Full Length: The entire length of the stirrup is sewn behind the fender. It is the most common method on modern stools.
Half Length: Half of the stirrup is sewn to the top of the fender. This style reduces the bulk below the horseman’s legs. On lower-quality saddles, this technique saves money, and sloppy manufacturing can compromise the solidity of the whole. On better quality saddles, this system is quite effective.
Stirrups are an integral part of the ranch saddle. Originally, the stirrups were cut from a piece of wood. This method has evolved by using wood heated with steam to round it into the desired shape. Then they are either left in the raw state or covered with metal to reinforce them. Some are made entirely of metal (copper, aluminum, or steel), such as Monel calipers or with composite materials. A heavy stirrup will stay in place more easily than a light stirrup. It will be easier to find with your toe. However, the very heavy stirrups can knock you out if you come to bump your head. So be careful! Lightweight stirrups are common in competition saddles like barrel racing. Height and width measurements are made inside the stirrup. The width is measured at the widest point and the height of the floor to the eye (roller). The width of the floor can range from less than 2.5 cm on an OxBows to 15 on certain “bell bottoms.”
Find a model whose tree is guaranteed between 5 and 30 years old. The parts can be guaranteed for 1 to 5 years, depending on the manufacturer. The entire saddle can also be guaranteed under regular use.
In any case, without a written document or purchase invoice, you will have trouble enforcing this guarantee. For some entry-level saddles, you will even have trouble knowing where it comes from. Be aware that any accident will automatically void the warranty. So be vigilant.
The price of a ranch saddle depends on the quality. First, there are the entry-level models that fall within the under 500 range. With these, the rider is often poorly positioned (legs forward). It is, therefore, ineffective (lack of freedom to operate the aids) and uncomfortable. The tree rarely goes on the horse’s back. So security is not guaranteed.
Secondly, some mid-range models offer excellent value for money. Sold for close to or more than a thousand bucks, these are suitable for beginners to intermediate riders who do not necessarily have a horse. However, it will remain a transition saddle if you have to continue in competition.
Finally, the made to measure custom ranch saddles are the top of the range models. They are very expensive but are equally ideal for the beginner. This is because it will make them progress quickly (ideal position = no equestrian problem). It’s a saddle that can be supplemented by another of the same quality for another discipline. A misconception is that handcrafted saddles are more expensive than factory saddles. Do not hesitate to inquire as this is not necessarily the case. Also, a personalized saddle is and remains a unique model.
Go on Amazon and take a look at models such as the Orlov Hill Leather Co PRO saddles and the Open Store Western Roping Ranch Saddle, which we review in this article. They fall within the entry-level range. Many can quickly adjudge them as poor quality models. Far from it! Looking at it, the models are made of premium-grade and original materials such as cowhide leather and stainless steel accessories. It just shows that by having the right information, you can get the best-quality models without tearing up your side pockets!
Western saddles are sold with a displayed size. This is calculated by measuring the distance between the base of the horn and the middle of the cantle. This distance is expressed in half an inch (1.27 cm) from 12 to 17 inches. The general sizes are: child: 12 to 13″; small adult: 14″, medium adult: 15″; large adult: 16″; very tall and strong adult: 17″. However, you should first take into account the main rules concerning the choice of the size of a saddle. Remember that the seat size of a western saddle concerns the size of the rider, not that of the horse. You must leave about 10 centimeters between the front of your body and the crotch (or swell). Your bottom should be at the base of the cantle, but not tight against it. Some people prefer a snug saddle, and others prefer wider saddles. In general, the saddle should be a little big than too small.
Ranch saddles are often used for Western riding. They are the most suitable for working horses and in cattle ranches. They are used mainly in the west (mostly in the US). They are ideal for long periods of riding.
Good quality models aren’t only made of heavy-duty materials; they have very comfortable seats. They are often padded, designed for long days of use. In this review and guide, we have seen the best models and in-depth information that elaborates on the art of choosing this product.
Of the five best ranch saddles we handpicked, three come out on top!