pella

Association saddles

12 posts in this topic

Hello,

i see the word association style saddle everywere and i still dont understand what is the difference? What make a saddle be called "association"?

looking to improve my saddlery knowledge...

thanks in advance

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By the same time, lets talk about the modified association... I dont know more about that one :-o

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Association saddles, and modified association saddles, refer to the exact model

saddle tree they are built on. There are association trees, and modified association trees.

If I'm not mistaken, the name "association" comes from the rodeo association that designates this particular tree as the standard for rodeo events. There are alot of people here with strong rodeo backgrounds who are far more capable of answering your question than I am. They can explain the specifics regarding the association tree's fork dimensions, and what makes it perform the way it does, what makes it functionally unique.

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Yonatan was correct. In the 1930s some cowboys were being cheated by a stock contractor who didn't want to add their entry fees into the prize money. It took a long time for the cowboys to stick their necks out and complain but they eventually did and the contractor added the money. It was there they banned together and called themselves the Rodeo Cowboys Turtle Association, because it took a long time to stick their necks out.

In the 1940s they changed their name to the RCA, Rodeo Cowboys Association. In 1975 they changed their name to the PRCA, Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

In the early days guys were riding broncs on all kinds of saddles. Some had horns, some sawed them off, some had very large swells that really swept back and they felt the need to standardize a saddle. Hence they came up with a saddle that was approved by the "Association." That's why saddle bronc saddles look like they do and they are built on a tree now called an association. There are standards. I'm not sure all the exact specifics but something like a 14" wide swell with no more than 1" of undercut. They are usually built with a high gullet, like 9" so they stick up pretty high in the front end so a bronc rider can lock on with his thighs.

Because it is a handsome front and a lot of guys like it they began making roping saddles with the same swell by modifying it, i.e., making a much lower gullet, and calling it a "modified" association, or a swell that doesn't stick up so high in the front end but has the same basic shape as a bronc saddle front.

A lot of working cowboys in Tx. like a modified assoc. and calf ropers like them also lowering the gullet height even more and putting a leg cut on it, simply calling it a mod. assoc. with a leg cut. Hope that helps.

Troy

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Pella,

The original "Association" tree came about for the reasons Troy said. In the early 1900s there was no regulations on saddles in the bronc riding contests. Hamley's came out with the Form-Fitter swells in about 1914. Combine a high cantle and wide swells with a short seat and rider could more or less lock his legs and ride till he bled out his ears. Several rodeo committees got together in 1918-1919 and decided on a saddle tree with set specifications. Hamleys made the first ones, and most referred to them as "Committee" or "Association" trees. They basically were a beefed up version of the "Ellensburg" tree pattern. Early on the rodeos provided the saddles, and a guy had to ride their saddles. These saddles went from one rodeo to another. Eventually guys started ordering them, and using their own. They all came with horns. Most guys left the horns early on, they might have cowboyed in them all week. Eventually some bent them forward to be out of the way, and some sawed them off. Still, there is nothing in the rule book that bronc saddles can't have a horn. Early on pretty much Hamleys and Denver Dry Goods made about all of them. Everybody packs their own saddle now. There are probably 7 or 8 bronc saddle makers that acount for 95% of the business. It is a specialty. I kind of hope Robin Severe chimes in, they've made more than a few.

The current specs are a 14" swell width, 1" of undercut like Troy said. The gullet width is 5-3/4 wide, and the cantles no more than 5" high and 14" wide. They give a 1/2" allowance for leather covering when measuring. They say the rigging is supposed to be 3/4, and the front edge of the ring below the center of the swells. The bars on the bronc trees are not the same as any regular bars.

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the way I read the rules is says no thing back of 5\8.

the gullet 5 3/4 x 9" ,14" wide fork,5" cantle,2" dish.

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Lancaster.jpgHere is an exanple.We spread the bars to 6.26x8" the rest is what the customer wanted

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post-6829-1214801066_thumb.jpg

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thank you very much for information :-D

This saddle on the picture look VERY nice, hope thats not for bronc?! If i understand right, thats a modified association? Do you have a front picture for me to see the swell?

Why bars are not the same? What do they have particular?

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Pella,

I am attaching pics of an Association bronc tree I have sitting right now. If you set this saddle or the other bronc saddles I have worked on in the position they are mostly cinched, they will bridge a fair amount. The bars are generally a bit thicker and clubbier on the edges than normal bars. These guys usually want the front end to sit up pretty high. That is why the gullets are higher.

IMG_0012__Small_.JPG

IMG_0013__Small_.JPG

IMG_0014__Small_.JPG

post-29-1214833630_thumb.jpg

post-29-1214833657_thumb.jpg

post-29-1214833674_thumb.jpg

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thank you very much Bruce.

Well, now i understand what is an association saddle, i will sleep better (and always think about that turtle association lol!)

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Bruce,

I had in my mind that the saddles were placed further forward, right on the horse's shoulders because that is more where the riders want to be on these broncs, and that the bars were shaped differently on the bottom to accomodate this somehow. But with the rigging the way you describe it, it can't be put that much further forward than most saddles, can it? We have never built one and I am also looking forward to hopefully hearing from Robin on this to find out more about the "real", not modified, associations.

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I haven't been by the computer for a bit, sorry I missed this one.

Bruce is right, the Assn as we know it came from the Ellensburg tree. The Hamely tree shop did not change the tree at all. It still fit horses and came with a horn. Most of the bronc riders hammered the horn forward or cut it off and built the front of the bars up to help them mark a horse out and get a higher reach with the spur lick.

My dad started building the front of the bars up in the wood at the request of the riders and just leaving the horn off. We also leave a bit more rock in the bars and beef them up a bit in the back because the guys are forever riding the floor checking the binds in the sturrup leathers.

We also leave the fork fuller where your thighs hit it than the Ellensburg tree was. The original fork would bruise the riders thighs.

The modified Assn or improved was slightly lower in front and just refined, same bars.

If you lay the bar patterns out there is quite a differance between the ellensburg and all the hamely roper bars. The ellensburg and wade bar is a full inch shoter than the ropers for the same seat size.RS

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