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Question On Rebuilding Older Saddle Tree


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#1 Priam1

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Posted 14 February 2010 - 08:49 PM

Well over 20 years ago I purchased a saddle for a problem horse I had at the time from a guy by the name of Dave Jones. Many of you may have heard of him. He was a horse trainer and then became a saddle maker--and he also wrote a saddlemaking book. Long before he just made saddles, I contacted him about a problem with my horse's withers. He said that he had just the saddle that would help me. He offered to sell me his used saddle and I bought it. This was a Balanced Ride Monte Foreman style saddle that had the forward stirrup leathers. Since it was really a pretty beat up saddle I thought that I would strip it down and rebuild it and, put regular stirrup leathers on it. Well, after stripping it down, I noticed that the bars at the fork where pretty straight as opposed to the bars being flared out to allow more movement at the shoulders. This saddle tree was made in 1950. So the question I have for you experienced saddle makers and tree makers is 1) Is this tree worth putting new Leather on or because of the lack of shoulder bar flare should I not bother and just order a new tree? Is this a big deal? Dave Jones was a horse trainer for a long time before he hung up his spurs, and it apparently suited him well--and the horses he rode. However a tree made in 1950 may not suit the horses of today. I guess would be considered at that time a "Full Quarter Horse" tree. and I don't have a specific horse in mind for this tree and was looking at it being just an all around saddle. I slapped the bare tree on a few big beefy quarter horses, but it looked like it kind of pinched them ever so slightly at the lower portion of the bars. But the horses that I am talking about were really fat and certainly not in riding condition.

And. while it has nothing to do with the above question, the problem I had with the horse was that it was a young arab--extremely mutton withered and had a lot of baby fat on the withers. With regular riding, I sweated it off and no longer needed that wide a tree.

#2 horsewreck

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 10:38 AM

I think most of the time it's not worth building on an older tree.The main reason to do so would be the tree suits you and your horses to a tee. That does not seem to be the case here, plus as you know trees have changed so much in the last 60 years. I will bet the tree could use more gullet width, plus most of those old saddles didn't have as much twist to the bars as newer ones, and it sounds like it doesn't have enough flair as well. If you are going to build a new saddle I vote for springing a few more bucks and getting a new tree...
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#3 bruce johnson

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 10:57 AM

I'd recommend using it as a decorator piece. I saw a picture recently of an old high back saddle tree used a book rack. They set them in at a slant in the channel between the bars from fork to cantle. You can also run the fork through a bandsaw just above the bars. Screw it down to a board from the back with the horn up and make a coat/hat/bridle rack. I guess I am saying I wouldn't build on it.
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