Saturday, November 8, 2008

Saddleseat saddles

Let me start out by saying that I am not an expert on anything pertaining to saddleseat. I've ridden in a park saddle exactly one time and that was a joke. Years ago, I was invited to go riding with a friend who owned a pair of Morgans that were stabled just outside Griffith Park in Burbank, CA. I'd only ridden with Janie a couple times, and was expecting a pretty tame ride so I chose to use her park saddle just "to see what it was like". Oh, bad decision! Instead of riding around a ring, we went straight up the mountain. The whole ride was up and down and up and down and it was all I could do to hang on to that flat, slippery saddle. All subsequent rides with Janie were enjoyed in a Western saddle! I have three orders for saddleseat saddles on my workbench right now, and all three of those saddles are supposed to be black. That's interesting to me. I could be wrong, but my strong impression has always been that the default tack color for that discipline is brown. Dark brown--dark enough that it might be mistaken for black from a distance--but still brown. I'm not sure I've ever seen a saddleseat type saddle that wasn't brown. With the exception of dressage tack, parade saddles and synthetic saddles of all varieties, you don't see a lot of black tack in the real world. You do see it the model show ring, though, and I think that's ok. Tack color is a style thing, and there's really no reason the model world has to have exactly the same styles as the real world. I'm too much of a traditionalist to embrace nonstandard colors in my own tack collection, but if you think your model looks wonderful in a black Western show saddle, I won't hold it against you!
As a tack maker, I find black to be the easiest color to work with. There are no color matching issues. Black is black! The tooling leather, skiver and lace are all going to match just fine. I've also found that I can recycle brown leather pieces that didn't dye evenly. Rather than throw them out, I just redye them black. Truth be told, I'm delighted to have three black saddles to work on even if they're not exactly what you'd see in the real world.I took all these pictures in the mid 1990's and although it's hard to tell, all the tack is brown. The top three pictures were taken at the Germantown Charity Horse Show in Germantown, TN. The bottom pictures were taken at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY.


  1. HI!
    As I was reading your blog today my aunt came is and I asked her if she had seen many black saddle seat saddles and she said yes.. she bred and showed morgans for many years including riding and showing saddle seat with their stallion who was black.. his saddle was brown though because I owned it for awhile.. yes I tried it one time on my morgan stallion and that was that!.. it about killed my low back for one thing.. another is your riding behind the center of the horse so I found it very uncomfortable to ride in. we sold it years ago.. lol so I cant imagine your trail ride in one! I feel for you! ..anyways.. at least it the morgan world there are black saddle seats..I think it depends on the horse color..some people like the tack to blend. others want it to stand out I think.
    Rebecca Turner

  2. Excellent! Thanks so much for sharing that. The little bit of saddleseat I've been exposed to is mostly Saddlebred and Arab with a smattering of TWH. It really surprised me to have three black saddle orders all at once. One of these saddles is destined for a Morgan--so now that makes more sense to me. I always like learning new things:)

    I was about 2o when I went on that crazy trail ride so it was equal parts fun and terror. I don't think I'd be up to something like that today, though!