BarrelPony

Looking someone to make me a custom saddle

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Hello, I'm looking for a trusted saddle maker to make me a quality custom saddle. I'm looking for a tough ranch saddle with swells, roughout seat and round skirt. Preferably on the lighter side, but heavy duty. I'm 17 and only work part time so I'm trying to not pay much more than $1,000-$1,500. Any ideas of someone who could make me something like that in my price range? Thanks in advance!

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Thor   

To be honest I doubt you'll find a long time saddle maker, being willing to work for free, cause this is pretty much of what you're asking here. A lighter saddle, but working heavy duty doesn't work unless you're considering about 25 pounds light.

Let me break that down for you.

  • A good quality tree is anywhere between $200 to $600 + shipping to the maker. 
  • The leather will be around $300 - 400 depending on quality. 
  • Hardware will be anywhere between $30 to way over your budget.
  • Haven't even considered the whole week of work that goes into this and not even mentioning designing the saddle.

So on what is the saddle maker going to live on?

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Thor says it well. You'd need to double your price range to get even a startup saddle maker interested, I'd guess.  There are some threads on this forum discussing prices for custom saddles.  I'm recalling $3000-3500 was about the average rate for a plain custom saddle from a well-established maker, and higher for top makers. There were some makers that would make such saddle for $2000-$2500, though. --John

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I would spend that 1500 bucks on tools and leather. Think of the pride you would have riding around in a saddle you made for yourself. There are some really great books on the subject. And these master saddle builders are on this site regularly to help you with an answer when you get stumped.

That's what I would do, if I needed a saddle.

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Thor   
4 hours ago, bikermutt07 said:

I would spend that 1500 bucks on tools and leather. Think of the pride you would have riding around in a saddle you made for yourself. There are some really great books on the subject. And these master saddle builders are on this site regularly to help you with an answer when you get stumped.

That's what I would do, if I needed a saddle.

And by doing so, you might have just ruined a great horse. It takes way more than just buying tools and reading a book to make a saddle. If the rigging is just slightly misplaced the saddle sits not right. Many will not even understand how to order the tree, what rigging will work for their needs and so on. At the end of the day one will have to build several saddles before one will actually really work. Talk to an equine body worker and you'll understand how much one will be spending on a horse, if the saddle doesn't fit. 

I'm pretty sure that most of the master saddle makers will agree with me, that it's nothing one can just go at.

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3 hours ago, Thor said:

And by doing so, you might have just ruined a great horse. It takes way more than just buying tools and reading a book to make a saddle. If the rigging is just slightly misplaced the saddle sits not right. Many will not even understand how to order the tree, what rigging will work for their needs and so on. At the end of the day one will have to build several saddles before one will actually really work. Talk to an equine body worker and you'll understand how much one will be spending on a horse, if the saddle doesn't fit. 

I'm pretty sure that most of the master saddle makers will agree with me, that it's nothing one can just go at.

I apologize for my ignorance. 

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Hello Barrel Pony,

I am one of those novice saddle makers and I'll share a few thoughts. The last saddle I built was a working saddle for my wife and although I didn't skimp or shortcut on any material I also didn't go extravagant. It's a simple roughout Wade with Jeremiah Watt stainless hardware built on a Bowden tree with Hermann Oak leather. I spent just over $1,300 on the materials. A larger scale maker would be buying in bulk and would be able to get the material quite a bit cheaper. Larger makers will be run on a production basis by many different workers, which most people view as a downside. They will also be building based off of proven patterns and will likely be familiar with their job. A novice saddle maker, such as myself will be doing everything one step at a time by hand, but that doesn't mean they'll do it well or "right".

I think the best value I have seen for what I would call a semi custom saddle is Jeremy Stead, you can check out his work on www.ranhcsaddle.com but it will be about double your budget. Another great option would be McCall Saddles, again they would be at least double the budget you have noted but they are a great semi custom saddle, in my opinion. 

Good, production saddles that would hit around your budget, again in my opinion, would be; Saddle Barn, My wife and I have owned 2, a swell fork and a Wade, both were hard working ranch saddles and they were both quite nice. Billy Cook, my wife has a Wade Tree Ranch saddle from them and it is very nice. Colorado Saddlery, we've owned 2 a swell fork and a Wade, both were good saddles. 

Another great option would be to look for a used saddle that fits your needs. I once picked up a used Scotty Derringer slick fork. He is a custom maker in northern AZ that was located in the area I lived at the time. It was my first custom saddle, although not built for me and it was great in every way. 

For background my wife and I have owned and rode horses all of our lives. We own and run a small cow calf operation in addition to our other endeavors. We do not compete in shows or rodeos nor do we ride every day. We do ride 3 to 4 times a week at times, we do start all of our own horses and have for over 20 years and we have occasion to rope a calf every now and then. When I say a saddle is "good" I mean it holds up to this level of use, works and fits on the horses I put it on (with reasonable padding) and is comfortable for the rider. 

Good luck,

Josh

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