Last Updated on March 6, 2023
Deciding on which of the best roping saddles to purchase comes with far more things to consider than purchasing a trail or pleasure saddle. The amount of movement that a roping saddle goes through on a day-to-day basis means it needs to be strong, sturdy, and tough if it is going to last.
Quality saddles will remain intact under all of the ware and tare ropings put on them, while saddles of lesser quality will not hold up. Seams will come apart, leather will split, horns have been known to pop off, and the saddle tree can shatter, crack, and even split. So take time to find the best quality saddle that fits within your budget.
Choosing the Best Roping Saddles
Roping steers and calves on the ranch happens daily for most cowboys. Roping puts a lot of stress and wear and tear on equipment. The best roping saddles on the market are made of high-quality suede and rough-out leather, have tall thick horns, often covered with rubber, full double riggings, and rope straps.
The best roping saddles will be very strong and will hold up to the strong jerks and pulls of roped livestock. Roping saddles are often heavier than other western saddles. The heavyweight, proper seat shape to keep the rider in the saddle, and oxbow stirrups essential pieces that make the best roping saddles. The best roping saddles will last a long time, so pick a quality made saddle that is more expensive over one that is average and priced lower.
If you don’t struggle a little bit when you’re throwing the saddle on your horse, you can bet it’s far too light to be strong enough for this job. A solid saddle is mandatory for roping, and that means the saddle will weigh it.
The tree is durable, the leather is thick, and the horn is tall and wide, reinforced with leather, and sometimes rubber is even added to it. So don’t fall for any roping saddle that is not a bit heavy.
Other things to look out for
Take a good look at where the fenders attach to the tree, you want to make sure they are centered straight down from the seat so you have the ideal seat and leg position. Fenders that a too far forward or too far back will make it hard for you to balance in the saddle and stay centered in the saddle and over your horses.
Remember to take a good look at the riggings for the cinch and back cinch. Make sure the front rigging is set so the cinch will fall just behind the shoulder. When it is placed more forward, closer to the front of the skirt you run the chance of pinching the shoulder and limiting the horse’s movement.
The rigging for the back cinch should be set in the center of the skirt that is behind the fender and the back corner of the saddle skirt. The back cinch should go under the back portion of the horse’s belly, and should not be set too far back that it can come into contact with the flanks.
For safety don’t forget to attach the front and back cinch so (the back of the front cinch and the front of the back cinch) so they stay together.
Break-in a quality roping saddle
Another important thing to remember is that sometimes the best saddles take time to break in. Going for the saddle that is already soft and supple might be more comfortable to start with but it may also be far more expensive.
Leather that is thicker and not yet as pliable as you would like, with time, will break in and you can get the leather feel we all know and love. With some saddle soap and leather conditioner, you can get that same supple leather in a few weeks and you will save a few hundred dollars on your purchase.
Purchasing a roping saddle is different than purchasing other saddles. This is an event-specific saddle. Although roping saddles can be used for other styles of riding, the primary purpose is to be used for roping. The horn, cantle, seat shape, leather type, and other things will be much different than those found on other western saddles.
Top Picks for the Best Roping Saddles
This is a great choice if you want a quality saddle that is budget-friendly. Constructed with a sturdy rawhide-covered wood tree, this saddle will withstand the hard jerks and pull when roping livestock. The seat on this saddle is designed with a deep-set pocket to help keep the roper centered when leaving the box and offer them additional balance. This will give the rider a solid advantage during competition.
Handcrafted to offer the most comfortable saddle for the horse with full Quarter horse bars for freedom of movement and comfort during hard turns and fast starts and stops. This saddle is not designed only for the comfort of the rider but for the horse as well.
If the saddle is not the proper fit your horse will not perform as well as expected. So fitting the saddle to the horse is a top priority with this maker.
- Hand Crafted offering superior comfort.
- Designed specifically for ropers.
- Five-year warranty on tree and other hardware.
- Takes a while to break in.
- Horn needs to be wider so it won’t break when jerked on
- Stirrups are difficult to remove feet from quickly.
The Ranch Roping Cowboy Saddle by Hilason is made with high-quality genuine leather. This saddle is made for hard work. The saddle is created with an extra-strong tree designed to stand up to daily ranch work and the impact that saddles take when being used for roping calves and livestock.
The tree for this saddle is designed to last under the added pressure created by roping. The double rawhide-wrapped tree is one of the strongest on the market. Hilason roping saddle comes with a five-year warranty against damages that reduce the structural soundness of the tree.
The rough-out leather seat and 4.5-inch cantle are designed to help keep the rider centered in the saddle and reduce slipping and sliding around. A 7-inch gullet and full Quarter horse bars will fit a variety of horses so you won’t be left with a saddle that only fits one horse. This saddle is well made and also comes with a price that many will be able to fit into their budget.
- Fantastic fit for both horse and rider.
- Wonderful quality and affordable price.
- Very comfortable for long days in the saddle.
- Some of the screws came out, they were not the proper screws to use for saddle making.
- Not all leather is tanned the same so the color was not the same throughout the entire saddle.
- Seat sizing runs small.
Are Western Saddles More Secure?
Most riders will tell you that western saddles make them feel more secure, and there are several reasons for this. Firstly, the seat of a western saddle is traditionally quite deep, and the higher pommel and cantle keep you anchored into position. English-style riding saddles tend to require more from the rider in terms of balance and stability, whilst western saddles provide the rider with more support.
The riding position adopted when western riding is also different from English riding, and many people feel more comfortable riding in this way. The legs are relaxed downwards and rest easily against the sides of the horse, and the reins are often held in one hand. This leaves the other hand free to help the rider balance.
How Do You Adjust a Western Saddle Stirrup?
When riding a horse it is essential that your stirrups are the correct length, and that both stirrups are the same length. This will help you to adopt a comfortable, secure, and balanced position in the saddle.
To find the perfect stirrup length, sit in the center of the saddle with your legs relaxed downwards. Feel for the stirrups – your toes should slide into them easily. If the stirrups are too short, you will find that you need to bend your knee to do this; too long, and you’ll need to extend your toe downwards.
To adjust a western saddle stirrup, unbuckle the strap and slide it upwards or downwards, depending on whether you want to lengthen or shorten the stirrups. Refasten the stirrup buckle and check to see if the stirrup now feels the correct length and that both stirrups are the same length.
How Do You Clean a Western Saddle Seat?
If your western saddle seat is made from leather, you will need some saddle soap, a soft cloth, and water to clean it. Leather conditioner can be applied once the saddle is clean to keep it in good condition.
Take a damp cloth and wipe the saddle seat to lightly moisten it. Then apply saddle soap to the cloth, and rub it into the saddle leather with a circular motion. The soap should glide across the surface of the saddle, taking the dirt and grime with it.
Rinse the cloth to remove the soap, and wipe the saddle seat until all traces of dirt and debris have been removed. Allow the saddle to dry completely, then apply the leather conditioner according to the instructions on the bottle.
Why Do Some Western Saddles Have Two Girths?
Some western saddles are double-rigged, which means they have two girths. The first is a standard girth that fastens to the cinch straps, holding the saddle securely on the back of the horse.
The second girth, known as the back cinch or rear cinch, is primarily used when roping cattle. It attaches to the rear of the saddle, helping to stop it from moving when the cow pulls back on the rope. It can also be useful when traversing steep, rocky trails where the saddle may tip forwards.
When using a rear cinch, it should be slightly looser than the main girth, as a tight rear cinch may apply so much pressure on the back that it causes the horse to buck. However, it must not be so loose that the horse could get a leg trapped underneath it. The rear cinch is attached to the main cinch by a cinch hobble, which prevents it from slipping backward.
How Much is a Used Western Saddle?
You might assume that buying a used western saddle is a cheaper option, but this is not always the case. However, it is sometimes possible to pick up a bargain if you scout around long enough!
The joy of a good quality western saddle is that they tend to hold their value well, as they have a very long working life. The initial investment when buying a western saddle, either new or used, can seem very high. However, the right saddle will last you for many years, and you may find that you can sell it for almost as much as you bought it for.
Expect to pay around $350-$500 for a good quality used trail saddle, and upwards of $500-$2,000 for a saddle for roping and barrel racing. When buying a used saddle you will need the services of a saddle fitter to check and adjust the saddle as necessary, so remember to factor this into your budget.
Can You Use an English Bridle With a Western Saddle?
Theoretically, you could use an English bridle with a western saddle – at the end of the day, it’s your horse and you can do whatever you feel comfortable with! So, if you like the comfort and security of a western saddle but like the control that an English bridle gives you, then go for it!
However, mixing English and western tack is not commonly done, as the two riding styles are different. The English riding technique normally advocates keeping reasonable contact with the reins, which are held with both hands. Western riders ride with loose reins in one hand, and the horse is controlled through neck reining.
How Do You Fix a Western Saddle?
If your western saddle needs fixing, the best option is to take it to a reputable saddle fitter for repairs. A saddle is a specialist piece of equipment, and attempting to repair it yourself may lead to permanent and irreparable damage to this valuable piece of kit.
When looked after and cared for correctly, a good western saddle will last you for many, many years. So, if it breaks, it is worth spending a little extra to make sure that any repairs are carried out competently and correctly.
Ranch Saddle vs Roping Saddle
Ranch saddles are a type of western saddle designed for doing ranch work. They are typically big and heavy, as they need to keep up with the demands of everyday ranch work.
Ranch saddles and roping saddles tend to be very similar, however, there are a few differences. In addition to being heavy, ranch and roping saddles are also both sturdy and durable. They have flexibility but tend to not be as flexible as other types of saddles.
Both roping and ranch saddles are designed to be functional while also keeping both the horse and rider comfortable. They also provide much-needed security which is important for both ranch riding and roping, often featuring full double rigging.
Ranch saddles tend to have a slick, hard seat whereas roping saddles tend to have a suede or padded seat. Ranch saddles also tend to have a higher cantle than roping saddles. In some cases, people will use ranch and roping saddles interchangeably.
Where to Find Cheap Roping Saddles
If you are in the market for a cheap roping saddle, your best option is to look for used roping saddles. By purchasing a used roping saddle, you can get a quality saddle for the fraction of the price.
When buying a used saddle, be sure to look for signs of wear. Be sure that the saddle does not have any damage to the tree or any torn buckles or seams. Some used saddles will have discoloration of the leather, but this is not a problem if the saddle is structurally sound.
Many tack stores will sell used saddles. Some tack stores even give you the option to take used saddles out for trial rides to ensure the saddle properly fits your horse. You can often find a good used roping saddle for between $800-$2,000.
Be sure to check all parts of a roping saddle before purchasing one, whether used or new. Make sure that the cantle, fenders, seat, stirrups, rigging, gullet, pommel, tree, and skirt are all in good condition with no damage. If there is damage on any of these parts of the saddle you could be potentially putting yourself or your horse at risk for injury.
Where to Find Custom Roping Saddles
The best way to ensure the saddle properly fits you and your horse is to purchase a custom saddle. While custom saddles can be expensive, they can ensure a proper fit and that the saddle has all of the features that you would like.
Choosing a custom saddle allows you to get everything you want in your saddle. You can choose the tree, seat size, leather coloring, tooling, hardware, stirrups, and cantle.
Custom roping saddles often come with a hefty price tag. You can expect to pay $2,5000 and upwards for a custom roping saddle. However, many competitive ropers find it worth the money to invest in a custom saddle, though you can still get a high-quality roping saddle that is not custom.
Conclusion: The Best Roping Saddles On The Market
Purchasing a saddle is very exciting. It may be hard to decide on what type of saddle you want or on the saddle is made, but in the end, finding something that fits both you and your horse and is made well, should be put at the top of your saddle purchase list.
Roping saddles should not be put in the same category as other saddles. Roping saddles need to be made with a more durable tree for a base, stronger leather that can withstand the pull of a rope, the jerk of a steer, and hold up against a slash from a bull’s horn.
Research what you should be looking for in a roping saddle, so you don’t overlook anything that is specifically designed for the sport. Purchasing a saddle is an investment that can last you a long time, so don’t break the bank on the purchase but you should also spend that little bit extra for the increased quality.
Michael Dehaan is a passionate horse owner, horse rider, and lover of all things equine. He has been around horses since he was a child, and has grown to become an expert in the field. He has owned and ridden a variety of horses of different breeds, and has trained many to compete in shows and competitions. He is an experienced horseman, having worked with and competed many horses, including his own. He is an active member of the equestrian community, participating in events and teaching riding lessons.