A Buyer’s Guide To Trail Saddles

Last Updated on February 23, 2022 by Allison Price

You can choose from English, Western, Australian, or endurance saddles. They are all designed to keep you and the horse comfortable on long trails.

Shopping for a trail saddle can be as easy as shopping for one for another sport. You should consider the quality of the materials, the construction, and the design. Once you have narrowed down your options, you can focus on the fit.Credit: Arnd Bronkhorst

Trail saddle shopping is more difficult because you spend more time in your saddle. Even minor imperfections in fit can make a long day of trail riding difficult.

A large number of saddle manufacturers are now offering many options for trail riders. These range from simple, minimalist models to more complex models that have D-rings, strings, and rigging to store all your gear. Below is a selection of the options available to you, arranged alphabetically by company name.

A Buyer's Guide To Trail Saddles

Abetta Saddle Tree John Eliot is the Action Company’s sales manager. “The great thing about a mold-injected tree is that the sewed parts cover it perfectly.” The company can make trees to fit many breeds including draft horses.Credit: Dusty Perin

Materials An outer shell of 1000-denier nylon is filled with closed-cell foam. Both materials are completely waterproof and do not absorb water. Eliot says that all materials are synthetic, even the fleece at the bottom of saddle. It can be wetted and dried quickly. Acu-suede is used for the seat. The material over the pommel, cantle and back is made of a synthetic leather-like vinyl. These saddles can be washed using water–wash and go.

Weight: 17 pounds

Additional features: Eliot says, “We use a trade-marked nylon-leather rigging that’s connected to one side of the saddle with a nylon strap and secured into the tree.” Eliot says that even if the rigging were to ever come loose, the saddles can still be secured to the horse as the rigging is wrapped around and connected by the safety strap across the top.

Prices: $435 – Basic Model with Around Skirt or $450 – Square Skirt

Contact: (800) 937-3700; [email protected]; www.actioncompany.com

Allegany Mountain Trail Saddles tree: Allegany uses Steele Trees, which are made from southern yellow pine and encased with fiberglass and resin. John Rettig, owner of Steele Saddles says that all our saddles can be custom-fitted to each horse using the Fit-to–be-seen form system. They are close contact saddles that fit both the horse and rider. We send out six to ten different fit forms and have four bars.Allegany Mountain Trail Saddles Cascade Wade

Material: Rettig says, “We use hand-selected leather.” All saddles are made one-by-one. Every saddle is handmade by one person, and not made in a factory line.

Weighing: an average of 26 lbs

Additional features: The buyer has three options for rigging, including an adjustable. A 7/8 drop ring can be configured to have either a 3-point endurance saddle rigging, or a rear tie cinch. Standard saddles come with two tie strings at the back. Additional tie rings can be added anywhere. Rettig says that a saddle can be customized in any shape or form. Rettig says that no two saddles are alike.

Prices: prices range from $700 up to $1,260 depending on the style. Most start at $965.

Contact: (716) 625-6631; [email protected]; www.trailridingsaddles.com

Cashel Trail Saddles tree: Cindy Lang, a sales representative, says that the trees are made from wood and handcrafted one at a while. They are then carefully dried to prevent warping. We applied a fiberglass finish to increase strength and prevent future warping. The corners are rounded with curved bars and properly spaced. It is a comfortable saddle that fits most horses. The tree has bars that allow for lateral flexion, which allows the saddle to be adjusted to fit many horses.Cashel Outfitter

Material: Lang says, “We use high-quality leather.” Comfort-foam padding is included in the seat.

Weigh: 25 – 27 Pounds

Additional features: Cinch and billet options are available. The Outfitter model is 34 pounds in weight and can be used for both trailriding and other tasks. Lang says that the Outfitter is more versatile. It can be used for ranch or trail work and can also be used to rope or haul out game from your saddle.

Prices: $14,425 for a trail-saddle with a square skirt, and $1,450 if you want a ranch saddle.

Contact: (800) 333-2202; www.cashelcompany.com

Circle Y Tree The cantle and fork of the tree are made from wood for most saddles. There are two layers to the bars: one is high-density and the other is flexible and low density. This provides support for the rider’s saddle. While the tree is stiff in the middle, the outer edges of bars bend with the horse’s movements. There are many Flex2 models available in English and Western designs. Circle Y also has saddles that are made from a Flex2 tree and designed for gaited horses. Amy Orsak, Design and Marketing Manager at Circle Y, says that the bars are angled differently in the back. They are more steeply pitched than Quarter Horse trees.Circle Y 1665 Pioneer Flex2

Materials The SOFTEE saddle seats have a non-slip cover that is padded with memory foam and conforms to the rider. Orsak says that these saddles are very soft and flexible and can be used as a jockey or a fender.

Weighing: an average of 25 lbs

Average price: $1,499 depending on style and features

Contact: (800) 882-5375; www.circley.com

Reinsman Equestrian Products Tree “Reinsman Trail Saddles were built on a Flex Tree that includes precise contours necessary for minimizing pressure points and maximising the loadbearing surface,” says Ernie Tracy, Head Customer Service Representative.Reinsman Comfort Fit

Materials All trail saddles include leather, a wool fleece liner and a grainy padded leather seat.

Weighing: All-leather saddles are 25-30 pounds. The Leather Cordura Trail is one example. It has padded cordura and a poly-resin tree, bringing the weight down to 17 lbs.

Additional features: The majority of these saddles have three-way rigging in their skirts and less bulky feet for easy stirrup adjustment. Many saddles come with felt skirts that conform to the horse’s back and provide a cooler ride. Comfort Fit trailsaddles have softer seat jockeys, fenders, and a narrower seat for a more comfortable fit for riders.” saysT racy. Our saddles are available in three sizes: 15-, 16 and 17 inches.

Prices: From $1,495 to 1,795 for endurance and trail saddles

Contact: (800) 548-2487; www.reinsman.com

Steele SaddlesSteele Mountaineer Western Style

Tree All trees made from southern yellow pine or western Cedar, which is a lighter wood but more expensive. Eric Hawkins, co-owner, says that the tree comes with a lifetime guarantee. Our standard tree fits 85 to 90% of horses, regardless of their breed. We can send you a mold kit to fit a difficult-to-fit horse. Heat it in the oven for 10 mins, then place on your horse’s back and shape it. Return to us. We will then have a model of your horse’s back to help us build the tree. The tree is then fitted with stirrup leathers and rigging. A temporary seat is added to that tree so that you can test the fit before we finish the saddle.

Material: These saddles are made from only American products, including leather. Hawkins says, “We demand the best, that’s why we don’t use a cheap saddle.”

Weigh: cedar saddles, 16-22 pounds, and pine saddles 21-27 pounds. weight: weight.

Additional features: These saddles can be tried before you purchase one. Hawkins says that 85 of our demo models are available via UPS to be sent to people for them to test, so they can make sure it fits their horse. The stirrups should be slightly in front of your body. This will allow you to ride comfortably on trails. Although it is still simple to post, the stirrups are designed to provide comfort for riding and prevent your horse’s back injury.

Prices: starting at $1,900 and ending at $1,975 for the lightweight cedar tree.

Contact: (615) 792-3884; [email protected]; www.steelesaddle.com

Specialized Saddles The majority of trees are made from high-density, molded PVC. Dave Kaden’s patented adjustable fitting system allows you to adjust the fit in three directions by adding wedges or strips shims. Kaden says that saddle fit is a three-dimensional problem. Fitting a horse to a saddle is difficult because he changes with age and conditioning. “Our adjustable system allows us to adjust the angle, rock, and width independently to meet any fitting challenges.Specialized Eurolight with optional floral tooling and built in bottle holder

Materials These saddles are made from high-quality U.S.-tanned leather.

Weighing: This Eurolight model is 12-15 pounds in weight and has a fleece seat that can easily be replaced with leather. Other saddles are 16-25 pounds.

Additional features: We offer two types of seat: the trail with a deeper seat and endurance which has a flatter one, says Kaden. All saddles have three positions for stirrups: forward, balanced, or centered. You can try the saddle out for eight days before you buy it.

Prices: 1,349 Eurolight. Other models start at $1,549

Contact: (575) 882-3342; [email protected]; www.specializedsaddles.com

Synergist Saddles Tree Each tree is made from lightweight injection-molded polyethylene and custom-molded to fit the horse and rider. Dave Di Pietra, Synergist owner, says that the bottom and top of each tree are customized to fit the horse’s needs.Credit: Dusty Perin

Materials A layer of immediate recovery foam is placed under the saddle. This foam regains its shape when it has been compressed, allowing the saddle to adjust to the shape and movement of the back. DiPietra says that a half inch of pour-on foam is added to the skirting. This material is used in high-quality running shoes to absorb shock. It moves with the horse’s back. This foam is also used under the big seat jockey. We can also use a seat with padding and stitching if the rider so desires. This can be glued down then removed every 4,000 miles.

Weighing: Between 18 and 30 Pounds, depending on the styles and features you choose

Additional features: All the saddles are based on the measurements of the EQUImeasure Kit. This flat piece is heated in the oven and then molded over a horse’s back. Di Pietra says, “The kit is yours for you to keep.” “If your horse’s back is changing as he grows or ages, you may re-warm the set to adjust his back and send it back to us. We can then readjust the saddle bottom for that horse.” Buyers can choose from six different fender systems, and three types rigging. Stirrups can be placed directly below the rider. The seat is contoured so that the rider’s thigh is in a balanced position. It can also be custom-fitted to the shape and size of the thighs and seat bones. A “jean seam channel” channel in its center reduces friction. Standard equipment includes D-rings around the saddle, as well as a crupper ring at back of the cantle. Other rings are available.

Price: $2,000

Contact: (877) 595-0115; [email protected]; www.synergistsaddles.com

Tex Tan Saddles The Tex Flex tree is made of high-density polyethylene bar constructions that can hold their shape but yield to horses when they move against them.Tex Tan TNT Trail Blazer

Materials Saddles made from leather in Western styles and colors.

Weight: averages 25 to28 pounds

Additional features: TNT Trail Blazer’s seat is deep and has a 5-inch cantle. The seat also includes a Visco memory foam cushion. Tina Mae Weber, spokesperson for TNT Trail Blazer, says that the swell is designed to ensure proper seated when you are going downhill on steep terrain or during any’spooks’ you might encounter on the trail. A pocket is included in the billet to hold your hoof pick. The swell has a buckle strap to attach a compass or to hang spurs or extra ropes. A flashlight can be attached to the ‘clever leather’ wrapped band. These items are always available, but they’re not in your way. You can also attach any other items to the back strings with snaps or saddlestrings.

Retail Price: suggested Retail, $1,750

Contact:(800) 531-3608; www.textan.com

Tucker Trail Saddles Tree : Tucker trees are 100% wood. However, the bars made from layered laminate, rather than a single block, allow for some flexibility. The bars are covered with a thin layer of polyethylene.Tucker 262 Gen II High Plains

Materials. Tucker Saddles come with either a Gel Cushion(tm), or one with VFoam ™ padding. Both are covered with top-grain leather that is perforated for airflow. To absorb shock between horse and saddle, another Gel-Cush pad is placed between the skirts of the saddle and the tree. The skirts are lined in wool felt that is one-inch thick.

Weighing: between 21 to 28 Pounds

Additional features: Tucker sits above the bars to reduce concussion. ErgoBalance(tm), stirrups keep the rider comfortable. You can adjust the rigging to make your horse’s latigo move forward or back. There are many styles to choose from: square or round skirts; tooled or plain leather; and cross-breed models for endurance or equitation. Tucker saddles often have multiple rings and strings to tie on bags and packs.

Average price: $1,475, depending upon styles and features

Contact: (800) 882-5375 or (361) 293-3501; www.tuckersaddles.com

Wintec Tree Wintec ElastiFlex is made from injection-molded thermoplastic. It is strong enough to protect the spine, but flexible enough to move with the horse. The extended bars distribute the rider’s weight over a larger area of the horse’s back.Wintec

Materials Made from all-synthetic material, including Equisuede which looks like leather. It is easy to clean and does not become slippery when wet.

Weighing: Pro Endurance saddle is 13 pounds and one ounce in weight. The Pro Stock saddle is similar to an Australian stock horse and weighs in at 20 pounds and 10 ounces.

Additional features: Wintec Saddles offer two options that allow buyers to tailor the fit of each horse. CAIR Panel System, a pair of air-filled pockets which replace traditional saddle flocking to distribute a rider’s body weight more evenly, can be used by saddlers above the CAIR pockets for a better fit. Allison Appello, Wintec, explains that even though the foam is thick to retain its shape it is not rigid. The air will move and give. Easy Change Gullet System comes with six different metal inserts. With a measuring instrument, you can choose the one that fits the horse’s width best. You can swap out a gullet if the horse’s shape changes with age or fitness.

Prices: $1150 for Pro Endurance; $1295 for Pro Stock saddles without swinging fenders or $1650 with swinging fenders

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!