Synthetic saddle bar/tree comparison

Question for someone with more knowledge about western saddle bars/trees than me:

I’m pretty set on buying a synthetic western saddle because I live in the rainy Pacific Northwest with nowhere to ride under cover. I don’t want to deal with the upkeep of a rain-soaked leather saddle.

Anyway, my friend let me try out her Big Horn 105 cordura saddle and it fit my horse (OTTB) very well. But I didn’t find the seat to be comfortable and I hate the cheap look of cordura. I’ve been looking around at faux leather saddles and am interested in the Wintec western trail saddle. I’ve used Wintec’s English line many times and love their comfort and durability in all weather conditions. I also love that it can almost pass as a leather saddle.

What I’m struggling with is the comparison of the trees between the two saddles. The Big Horn is described as a “13in Barrel Front Quarter Horse Bar” and the Wintec is described as “Full Quarter Horse Bars.”

I’ve been struggling to find more information on the internet about the specs of these bars. And unfortunately, all the Wintec distributors in my area are English specialty and don’t have any knowledge of the western line. Any help would be appreciated!

Links to the two saddles’ specs and a link to a Wintec semi-quarter bar saddle for comparison:
Big Horn 105:
Wintec Full quarter trail:
Wintec Semi-Quarter all-around:

I don’t know how they compare to the Big Horn, but I’ve got a Wintec FQH bar saddle that fits my very wide mule better than any other western saddle I’ve used on him, including one that was made to fit him. I originally bought the saddle just to start him under saddle, intending to switch eventually to a dressage saddle. But, due to his quirkiness and my final acceptance of my increased old lady fragility, we’ve mostly stuck with the western saddles, and after trying a series of “nicer” saddles, I’ve recently circled back around to the old Wintec.

Did you check the Horse Saddle Shop descriptions of the Big Horn saddles? They are much more descriptive than the link you provided. You might find what you need to know there.

Even the exact same saddle company is not going to have the exact same tree.

For my own horse, I tried a Circle Y XP barrel saddle on him. Fit him perfectly … but the seat size was too small for me. had the vendor look for one in my seat size and claimed he found one but it was just a different color (which was fine by me). Got the saddle the put it on my horse, and it’s coming up in the back (too much rock in the tree). I called Circle Y myself and they told me the trees are similar but since they had different serial numbers, they would not be exactly the same. And they clearly did not fit the same. I returned that saddle and was able to find the original Circle Y XP saddle in my seat size online. And fits him fine when it arrived.

So those are differences in the same saddle LINE (Circle Y XP) that can occur … much less two different brands all-together.

So trying to compare a Big Horn saddle to a Wintec saddle is like trying to compare apples to oranges. You will simply need to try the Wintec on your horse’s back and see if it fits or not. (Saddle fitting is a pain. I went through at least 10 saddles until I found the Circle Y XP for my horse.)

Unfortunately, you just absolutely cannot compare trees in one western saddle to another. Even slight differences in the tree can change how it fits. Two saddles can have the same gullet, and fit totally different.

And to make things more complicated, sometimes saddle companies change their trees over time. So a Big Horn 105 that was made in 1990 may not fit like a Big Horn 105 that is made in 2017. So you have to watch out for that too.

Can you get the serial number from your friend that has the Big Horn 105? It looks like that saddle will come in either semi or full, so you’ll need to find out which one she has.

Thanks for the detailed response, @beau159!

I totally understand that you’ll never know for sure until you try it on your horse. I’m just really hoping to be as educated on a saddle as I can be before purchasing because there are no synthetic western saddle sellers in my area and I’d like to avoid as much return shipping as possible :frowning: And that Big Horn 105 is the only one I’ve found to fit my horse well so I’m using that as my comparison.

Good tip about the serial number! I didn’t realize that saddle came in Semi so I’ll ask her.