I have the opportunity to purchase a new barrel saddle. There are so many options out there and I am pretty sure way more option than when I purchased my current Billy Cook Barrel Saddle 10 years ago from Boot Barn. I purchased this saddle that long ago without really knowing much about saddle fit other than my butt needed to fit in it and it shouldn’t roll on my horse. Other than that I wasn’t educated enough about gullet size and bars :: semi QH vs Full QH, etc. I was looking for a saddle that was functional, fit my butt and looked “good” on my horse.
As the years have passed, I have done a lot of research, read the forums, the magazine articles and chatted with people who know more about saddle fitting than I do. As I have gained the knowledge, I realize that the saddle I currently own works but doesn’t neccessarily fit my horse the way it should. It probably pinches him and is the reason for some of his back soreness, but it works for now. My gullet is a little narrow and I think it has semi QH bars, but I am not positive.
I have read about gullets getting really big, like 10 or 11″, WHAT? Are these people riding draft horses?
I have built my favorite custom saddle several times of the years and it always looks the same with a minor change in detaills depending on how much I think I can spend. I have chatted with a really good friend of mine and fellow barrel racer who has ridden in several different saddles and she loves the Martin saddle, Sherry Cervi’s Crown C, which is what I have been eyeing for the last several years.
I have a mare that as a 3 or 4 year old would have been almost impossible to fit as she was pretty mutton withered and high shouldered. Now that she is 6 she has filled out and will hopefully be easier to fit. We will be headed to Oakdale in the next couple of weeks while we wait on a demo Martin saddle to fit Dori for her new saddle.
Saddle buying is a fun and scary at the same time. You need to make sure that find a saddle that fits both you and your horse! Do your research and take your time. A nice quality saddle can be a life long investment!