Western horse saddles are a design that evolved from the Spanish Vaquero's saddles, which were used, for working. As more cowboys began to use their horses for longer periods of time, the saddle developed further. The need for specialist western saddles was immense; therefore, the saddle design had to develop further. Cowboys have always needed a saddle which was comfortable, durable, and could assist in their daily tasks.
Many centuries ago all horseback riders would have ridden bareback, and every activity from fighting to working was done with no saddle. The first saddle is believed to have been introduced by the Sarmations in 365AD. Over time, the saddle creations were brought back to Europe, where the horsemen realized that the metal stirrups were a fantastic invention. They not only helped to mount their horse, but gave them far better balance during a battle.
The original design of the saddle was extremely basic, and nothing like the western horse saddles that can be seen today. Leather tanning was not used, therefore, the design and shape was limited, but this style of saddle served a purpose. The carved piece of wood was tough and durable, however, was not terribly comfortable for the rider. Although the coverings and details have developed, other elements of the western saddles have remained unchanged.
The English saddles are another fantastic design and is seen throughout the UK and Europe. This style of saddle will appear far flatter than the western horse saddles, and can be used for a number of different events. There is no distinctive horn on the front of the English saddle, and the panels at the front of the saddle are self padding. The depth of the seat and the flaps on the side of the saddle will all aides the rider in the task which they want to perform.
Traditionally the tree of the English saddle is made up of several layers of laminated high quality wood. There is also a strong steel spring which runs the whole length of the saddle, providing the rider with an excellent shock absorber system. English saddles are typically made from leather in the same way as western horse saddles. However, there are other materials being used, to provide the rider with different options.
Synthetic materials are being experimented with to provide riders with a lightweight alternative to the heavy leather saddle. Children and older people may struggle with the weight of the traditional saddle, therefore, the lightweight alternative may be the way forward. There are several different sizes of the saddle to ensure that they fit the horse perfectly. If the saddle is badly fitted the horse will be uncomfortable, and unhappy to be ridden.
The Western horse saddles are far more elaborate in design than the English version, and although very few riders need to rope a cow, the distinctive horn remains on the saddle. The Western saddles are designed with comfort in mind, and many riders will go for several hours in the saddle. This design of the saddle is used as a working tool, and to this day they are extremely popular. However, the English saddle is considered the elegant style and continues to develop further.
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