Ranch saddles, as the name indicates, are saddles designed to perform the day-to-day activities on a ranch. Contrary to the versions cut out for various sports, these are versatile pieces of tack built to withstand the long hours of mounting required to maintain a ranch. Choosing the best ranch saddles can be tricky unless you understand what it takes to meet your needs.
Ranch work is tough; you need to ride the horse for longer hours, engaging in strenuous activities like cutting and roping. To do so, you need a saddle that makes riding easy and comfortable both for the horse and the rider while you do the job. For these very reasons, ranch saddles have a definitive bulky yet sturdy make and style that helps the rider hold their position irrespective of the intensity of the activity performed.
- Size and Weight: Ranch saddles are large and heavy by design to accommodate the taxing activities of ranching while offering comfort and durability at the same time.
- Seat: A typical ranch saddle seat is hard, deep, and slightly narrowed to allow for better contact with the horse and a more comfortable ride. The rough side up (inside out) leather seats offer better grip as compared to the smooth side (regular).
- Cantle: The cantle is the back of the saddle seat. Ranch saddles have a higher cantle to offer better support and ease in mounting or dismounting the horse.
- Tree: A saddle tree is a wooden structure at the base of the entire saddle, giving it a firm shape and stability. A thicker wooden tree allows for better attachment of the remaining parts of the saddle. It is wrapped over in rawhide or fiberglass to retain moisture, where the latter does a better job at moisture, but the former allows more flexibility.
- Swell: The ranch swell or pommel holds the bars together and offers the base for the horn. Ranch saddles have low swells, usually, A-fork to allow for an easy dismount. It comes particularly handy.
- Skirt: Most commonly available in a square shape, ranch saddles tend to be more stiff and thick than the pleasure saddle and should come with a thick fleece lining for added cushioning, good fit, and durability.
- Horn: Typically, these saddles have tall, thick horns to assist with the roping process and withstand the jerks that will follow. They are also equipped with horn wraps for added grip.
- Rigging: These are rings either hanging or sewn in the skirt to strap the saddle on top of the horse. Ranch saddles almost entirely have double rigging, whereby a front and flank rig is used to secure the saddle.
- Fenders and Stirrups: Fenders are leather straps that join the stirrups with the saddle. Ranch saddles have thicker, longer fenders and thicker stirrups to make both riding and standing easy.
- Saddle Strings: These saddles may or may not have lots of saddle strings to carry the additional load while riding.
Our Pick for the Best Ranch Saddles
The main purpose of going over the details of a saddle’s features is to ensure that you can tell a durable, quality product in a sea of virtual and in-store options. Now that you have the basic know-how to navigate saddle purchases, it is time to learn about some of the best ranch saddles the market has to offer. The tack that made our list of the best pick has something for everyone, ranging from superior quality leather products to those made with synthetic materials offering trade-offs in exchange for a better price point.
The Colorado Rancher Horse Saddle is a premium quality product made to suit the ranch life. Crafted out of premium quality Herman Oak leather, the saddle features a rough-out seat pattern and heavy-oil fenders for additional grip. Designed to last despite rigorous use, the saddle has a deep seat, surrounded by a double rounded skirt and Nevada twist stirrups for a comfortable ride and ease of movement as you dispose of your day-to-day ranch responsibilities. The dual cinching helps keep your saddle in place as your horse trots, jumps, and runs its way around the ranch.
Bringing the best of both worlds to its riders, the NRS Competitor Series Olin Young Ranch Saddle is a half-breed saddle, offering the comfort of a traditional western and the maneuverability of a modern saddle. Made with superb quality leather and available in a pleasing, elegant formation, it is an excellent budget offering from the respected NRS brand. Its snug fit and sturdy structure help the rider ace the ranch duties with finesse and ease.
A reliable name in the domain of equestrian gear, Acerugs produces some of the best-loved horse tacks in use today. Rather economical compared to some of the other items on our list, the Acerugs Western Comfy Ranch Horse Saddle Tack is an amazing all-purpose, robust product. The durable cowhide saddle comes in an antique finish, with a padded suede seat for enhanced comfort and grip, a sturdy tree, and sophisticated basket tooling rendering an impressive appearance.
The HILASON 16 Western Horse Saddle boasts some incredible innovation when it comes to the saddle tree. Relying on their little tree design innovation, the manufacturers intend to reduce pressure on the horse by careful weight distribution thanks to the flexible yet durable material used in the tree. It enables the saddle to shift between a semi and full-bar tree, allowing for top-tier shock absorption.
Another one of the economical yet reliable options, the Orlov PRO Western Leather Ranch Saddle, is an all-purpose strapping set when it comes to riding. The frugal saddle comes with all the right components, including a leather construction, comfy seat, lightweight and durable tree, good quality hardware, and some additional riding gear.
Finding the perfect saddle can be tricky since many people struggle with finding the right size that sits perfectly on their horses. But things can go haywire if you are looking to find something to suit a particular job. With all the information out there and the choices available, it could drive you nuts to try and make the final call. For this very reason, we have laid out the details, including the features you should look for while contemplating the best ranch saddles available. To make matters easier, we also shared some of the most amazing tacks suitable for ranch work. The best part, we share quality products for varying price points to help you make better, informed choices.