New Lightweight Saddle Help

WyoHuntr

Junior Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2020
Messages
45
It's time for a new lightweight hunting saddle. My Circle Y Pioneer with semi-QH bars & Flextree worked well with my mules, but my new hunting horses are bit too broad backed. They are 1200+ QH &1300lb+ QH ¼ draft. I was eyeing a High Horse cordura saddle with full QH bars, but I really don't know much about what is out there.... (I am a hunter, not a horseman).

The horse people I know don't hunt much. Most of their advice doesnt really translate well to the mountains. I figure the Rokslide is a good place for this particular advice.

Traits I'm looking for=
Lightweight: I am not skinny. I hunt above 10k ft. When I roll with one horse, I pack my whole ultralight camp in the saddle bag and my pack. I don't want a saddle to add 10-20 unnecessary pounds

Something to hook a britchen to: i hunt the rough stuff. My loaded saddle panyards flipped over my mule's head a few years ago. I nearly went over the top of my horse's head last year. I figure if it's on my pack saddle, it should be on my riding saddle. 20220614_001633.jpg
 
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Pony Soldier

Well Known Rokslider
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Dec 31, 2021
Messages
443
Location
Montana
A new saddle will need a ring that is attached by leather to your rear saddle strings. Once tha ring is set you can attach whatever you want.

I haven't gotten excited about making my saddle light. I focus on fit for me and a good fit for my horse. I like saddles with numerous rings attached by rawhide to give me flexability in tying things on.

Shop carefully!
 

khart_6882

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Mar 20, 2019
Messages
27
I’d agree that a saddle that fits your horse and you well is of more importance that lightweight. There’s no point of saving a few pounds if when you reach your destination neither you nor your pony can walk.

By the size of those cabiallo’s I’d definitely find something with full QH bars, you could save a little weight with a Wade style tree but if your riding steep enough country to want a britchin, swells might help you to catch your thighs on if you happen to rock forward going downhill.

If you don’t want to spend a fortune I’d check all over Craigslist, Facebook classifieds (if you have that) and 2nd hand stores. Bring a digital scale with you when you go look at them and you can get an idea of weights when you find some saddles that should fit your needs. Also, a well used saddle is going to be a lot quieter than a brand new one. Even if your not doing your hunting from horseback, I can’t stand listening to a new saddle squeak and groan on a long ride. Doesn’t seem like you can possibly get enough oil onto them to completely quiet them down.
 

missjordan

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jan 22, 2016
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1,104
Location
Missoula, MT
I firmly believe that when it comes to saddles lightweight and quality do not go together. However some saddle makers have their own representation that’s a good compromise between the two but will be difficult to find them cheap without going mass produced. And more than likely you’ll be out a year on a custom saddle. I just wouldn’t personally buy a condura saddle but that’s just me.

There’s another thread on this backcountry stock category labeled saddles i would have a look there also then maybe consider this: if you are looking for a lighter weight saddles of quality your going to want a single skirted saddle. Preferably round skirts over square. Less leather = less weight. But the problem you may run into is not having the right rigging to attach your britchen to. I don’t know if you need rings on the back to secure the britchen to or if saddle strings will suffice. I’m not educated enough on the subject to know how it works

It’s reasonable to think a lightweight saddle of quality will run about 30-32lbs. On the other thread i mentioned i like my ranch cutter/cow horse saddles made by the saddle house. Wades also are another option i just also don’t know that much about them but do “believe” they are going to be heavier. Either way make sure the saddle tree is comfortable on your horse. Full quarter horse bars on a Don Leson tree are more fitting to broad backed horses


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OP
WyoHuntr

WyoHuntr

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Joined
Oct 14, 2020
Messages
45
After Googling what Wade style is, it seems that is mostly what I have been looking at. I don't know what brands are quality/junk or lesser known makers. I figured Circle Y makes High Horse, so it wouldn't be total junk.

I focus on lightening everything as much as I can. Coming from the ounce-counting backpack hunting realm, I have a different mentality from traditional horse hunters. I horse hunted as a kid, but didn't really glean much from that. I'm tweaking everything just like I did with backpack hunting. Case in point: rather than have a halter and a bridle, I had a halter with clip on bit made. Then, took a 10' lead rope and added another snap to make dual function reins.
 

Pony Soldier

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Dec 31, 2021
Messages
443
Location
Montana
When it comes to horses, I think you are dancing in the overkill zone. Unless you have tiny horses, weight savings in halters are useless in comparison to fit.

I try to control weight on their kidneys by what goes in the saddlebags. I weigh about 214 . Add rifle, handgun, ammo, vest and clothes and I'm pushing 250-260. Add the saddle and tack, another 50-60 lbs.

My smallest mare is about 1,000 lbs and the biggest maybe 1,200. I see no effect on the horse with15-20 mile trips every day for 5-6 weeks. Shaving lbs seems like a useless endeaver.
 
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WyoHuntr

WyoHuntr

Junior Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2020
Messages
45
When it comes to horses, I think you are dancing in the overkill zone. Unless you have tiny horses, weight savings in halters are useless in comparison to fit.

I try to control weight on their kidneys by what goes in the saddlebags. I weigh about 214 . Add rifle, handgun, ammo, vest and clothes and I'm pushing 250-260. Add the saddle and tack, another 50-60 lbs.

My smallest mare is about 1,000 lbs and the biggest maybe 1,200. I see no effect on the horse with15-20 mile trips every day for 5-6 weeks. Shaving lbs seems like a useless endeaver.
The halter ditch wasn't so much of a weight savings, as a why the hell do I need this type of thing. Minimize the gear I take and maximize its use. It's technically more like an English bridle style. I could care less if it's "western", which seems to be a focus for most horsefolk. I see a lot of wanting to "look-the-look" reasoning in people's tack choices. For instance, I look at my pack saddle with a breeching and wonder why few people use one on a riding saddle.... despite the fact they have saddle panyards they plan to use.

I ask questions on a hunting forum, because mostly I get advice from folks who do not go steep uphill or downhill for two solid miles. Yet, I'm also no rookie to the mountains and watch guys rolling by me with a lot of unnecessary gear on their pack horses.... so I know there is improvements to be had. I like hearing a lot of advice, and heeding what applies.

I know my mare gets more worn out carrying me than my brother who weighs 70lbs less. If I can save 20lbs on a saddle that serves the same function, then that seems like something I should research. (Which in combination with my lightweight gear/rifle can really add up to big savings). I want my horses to get up hills faster and with more energy, just like i did by shaving weight off my pack. I've done well outfoxing horse hunters as a foot hunter for mule deer. I want to outfox other horse hunters as a horse hunter for elk 😉
 

missjordan

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jan 22, 2016
Messages
1,104
Location
Missoula, MT
After Googling what Wade style is, it seems that is mostly what I have been looking at. I don't know what brands are quality/junk or lesser known makers. I figured Circle Y makes High Horse, so it wouldn't be total junk.

Circle Y saddles are mass produced. You can compare them to a company like Vortex or Leopold. They have saddles in all price points but in the end they are going to be mass produced to a certain extent. Higher end saddle makers are all going to be handmade and they don’t produce the volume the big makers do. A lot of saddle makers do get their trees from an outside source and focus primarily on the assembly and the craftsmanship but there are still some makers out there that do make their own trees


I know my mare gets more worn out carrying me than my brother who weighs 70lbs less. If I can save 20lbs on a saddle that serves the same function, then that seems like something I should research. (Which in combination with my lightweight gear/rifle can really add up to big savings). I want my horses to get up hills faster and with more energy, just like i did by shaving weight off my pack. I've done well outfoxing horse hunters as a foot hunter for mule deer. I want to outfox other horse hunters as a horse hunter for elk

I’m not sure what your off season conditioning looks like for your horses but making sure they are fit is critical also. At the minimum they should be getting exercised at least 3 days a week and if you can’t get them in the mountains riding one and ponying the others at a long trot is a very good alternative. I’m not saying that you don’t exercise your horses at all but it definitely should be a primary focus that isn’t looked over.


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Cwsharer

Member
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Jan 28, 2021
Messages
54
Look into strip down saddles from nrs or teskeys or a saddle maker , they are made to be lightweight but tough enough to cowboy in
 
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