Trail Tack

I am hopefully about to adopt my first horse and I am mostly going to be doing a lot of trail riding.

But, I have never had any of my own western tack. (I also ride english so I do own english tack.) I found the saddle I want (Fabtron Lady Flex Tree Trail Saddle) but I don’t know what saddle blanket, or girth, or bridle, or practically everything else I need.

I would love to hear what brand I should get for each piece of tack and what tack I actually DO need.

Thank You!

we used Wintec Synthetic as they were inexpensive, durable long lasting, easy to clean and there were a variety of tree widths available off the shelve … we have used these for over twenty years without anything breaking on any of them.

Weight was very much of a concern as we were riding 40 to 70 miles at a time, the Wintec’s averaged about 17 pounds

You can trail ride in your English tack.

There is no real reason you have to switch to Western tack unless you want to. In my area, which has hundreds of miles of trails that include good-sized hills, lots of water crossings, and narrow twisty trails as well as wide smooth ones, 90% of the riders are either in English saddles or endurance saddles.

If your English saddle doesn’t have rings to hold water bottles or pommel/cantle bags, you can either have rings added to it or buy an add-on that has rings on it. Can’t remember the name of that thing but check some catalogs (like Dover) for it.

I would like to switch over to western for trail riding because I love riding western and I don’t get much time to. But I have never tacked up western so I don’t know what I need and what the best tack to use is.

maybe a picture would help

lead is my daughter followed by my wife, this is on a NATRC ride (55 mile) … the horses are wide body Morgans who were also shown under English tack as hunters

Clanter, your horses are beautiful!

[QUOTE=clanter;8101509]maybe a picture would help

lead is my daughter followed by my wife, this is on a NATRC ride (55 mile) … the horses are wide body Morgans who were also shown under English tack as hunters[/QUOTE]

Love the buckskin! Actually love them both, but I love buckskins.

OP, you want to make sure your saddle fits your horse, so maybe wait until you have the horse before getting the saddle. It can be a pita. Western saddles typically have more D rings for attaching equipment as well as ties. There are many types of Western saddles, and if you are going to trail ride, it would be a good idea to start with trail saddles. has a great selection of new and used saddles, and templates you can download and cut out that will help you figure out what saddles may best fit your horse. Their customer service reps are great, don’t hesitate to call them. Good luck!!

You’re going to want a breastcollar, a western girth (I like mohair roper style it’s breathable, gives and flexes, and is comfortable for the horse) horn bags are good to have for carrying snacks , sunscreen, water, etc. For a bridle I prefer a browband and not a one ear style. No reason just my preference. Have fun!

I recently went through the same thing, and I bought a Tucker western saddle, breast collar, and browband bridle. I originally had a neoprene girth, but found that I and my horse like a mohair girth better. I have a bag that fits over my horn that I can carry water and a few other things in. I bought a Skito brand saddle pad, and I love it. You can take the foam inserts out and wash the saddle pad in your home washer. I hate stinky saddle pads, and that seems to be a problem with lots of western pads, because they are too big and bulky for the washing machine.

Do you have a trainer helping you?

Reason I ask is because you are going to need someone to help you determine if your Western saddle fits your horse or not. That’s fine if you’ve found “the saddle you want” but it’s going to need to fit your horse as well.

Be cautious of flex trees. I am not familiar with which flex tree is in the saddle you mentioned, but you certainly don’t want it to do this:

Also, flex trees still need to FIT a horse’s back properly, just like a wooden tree.

Myself, I prefer saddle pads over blankets. I am a huge fan of 5 Star saddle pads. They are expensive, but they are well worth the quality. The always wash up good as new.

And as far as pads so, less = more. Since your saddle SHOULD fit good anyway, you really only need a 1/2" pad, or a 3/4" at the most.

As far as bridle, you can very easily use your English bridle. Just as long as it is a bit that your prospective horse works well in.

You can’t really put all flex trees in one category and call them all bad. I have a Circle Y Flex2 tree and it fits my horse great and she is very comfortable in it. No problems at all with fit or performance. I had a Rocking R saddle with a well regarded Steele tree in it, and the same horse got grumpy in that saddle, as well as another horse I had at the time. I replace the Rocking R with another Circle Y, saw a difference in both horses. So I now have 3 Circle Y saddles with Flex2 trees, and happy horses.

Thank You so much for your opinions! But how should I know if my saddle pad is the right size for the saddle?

Settle down. I simply told the OP to be cautious of flex trees because they aren’t all created equal. I didn’t put all flex trees into the same category.

I too have a Circle Y Flex2 saddle, and just ordered a 2nd one for my other horse. However, I honestly don’t consider them a “true” flex tree because the entire tree is not flexible; only certain parts of it.

However, I would never put the original version of the Circle Y flex tree on any of my horses. Hence why they scrapped it and went to the Flex2. It was not a good design.

Again, you should be working with a trainer. Do you have someone who can help you?

If your saddle fits well, you don’t need much padding (thickness) to it. You also, in my opinion, want a contoured pad that is going to match the angle of your horse’s back. I myself also prefer to have a wither cutout so that you don’t have any pressure on the withers.

Size-wise (length and width) you can get in a variety of options based on how much skirting is on the saddle you end up with.

  1. Get horse
  2. Get saddle
  3. Get pad

In that order. :wink:

When I made the switch to western my first saddle was the Fabtron Trail with the flex tree. It is a pretty versatile saddle and you can change out stirrups, fenders and cinch straps for leather if you chose to down the road. My first pad with that was a canvas topped fleece 32 x32. You saddle will come with a cinch, I changed mine to a Smart Cinch. And for trail I always use a bridle with browband or my halter-bridle combo.

Where did you find your mohair roper girth because I have been on a few websites and have not seen anything for a “Mohair Roper Style” Girth?

If you are planning on serious trail riding and not showing, I would find a NATRC or AERC rider show you their set up. They use what works over the long miles, and a lot of the tack is synthetic. Common brand names are Abetta, Toklat, Wintec & Zilco. Check out the riding wear house online in the endurance section for ideas. Happy shopping!

You can find them in the Jeffers catalog or one of the other western retailers. You want 100% mohair and it might be a little spendy but if you take care of it it will last forever. I have some girths that are 20 years old and still work like new. Also, make sure it’s stainless steel hardware.
Here you go.

there’s other sizes besides 28".

I love my mohair cinch or alpaca is lovely too. Classic Equine has one of the best mohair cinches on the market, double layered, soft and good hardware.

1 1/2 years ago I ordered a custom mohair cinch from

Love it, a piece of art. I just ordered another one with a matching breast collar so I can wash them and swap them out. Very reasonable too. If you go to their gallery link, there is an example of a mohair breast collar.

This is my girth. The cinch and breast collar on order will be a different pattern.

They were at the BCHW packers rendezvous. Beautiful stuff but not practical for serious trail riding plus expensive.