Which training saddle is best?

I’m looking at these brands’ TRAINING style saddles, any opinions on them would be great :slight_smile:

Billy Royal
Circle Y
South Bend/Rocking R
SRS/Paul Taylor

Doesn’t a training saddle just imply rough-out and no tooling, or high end hardware? I think a colt’s first experience with a saddle stays with them a long time – I would get the best fit.

The one that best fits the horse. Fit being equal I would go for lighter weight

Training saddles are just rough-out saddles. There’s nothing fundamentally different except being more affordable because there isn’t extensive tooling or silver.

Two schools of thought -

  1. if you’re just wanting a western saddle that’s affordable, get what fits you and the horse - my most recent acquisition is a used Pard’s reining style work saddle and I love it

  2. if you have a show saddle, get the matching work saddle… [INDENT]meaning, for example, I show in a Harris. Harris and Blue Ribbon saddles fit differently - the trees are different, the “twists” are different (Twist is more of an english saddle term, but essentially fit for the rider).
    It’s a real pain to practice in a Blue Ribbon and then show in a Harris because it’s like practicing for a driving test in an F150 and then taking a driving test in a dually. Same basic concept, but you get an advantage keeping the equipment the same from practice pen to show pen. Brands don’t even have to be the same, as long as the saddles ride the same and have a similar fit. [/INDENT]

FWIW all of my work saddles are reiners, even though I show the pleasure. I keep an eye out for higher quality used saddles on Facebook, versus buying cheaper new. All of my work saddles have been <$750, and someone else has ridden out all of the squeaks. :smiley:

“Training saddle” is a marketing label for a saddle that has extra rings and dees sewn into the skirts for the purpose of attaching a boat load of “training devices.” My opinion on any of them is negative.

I only have experience in two of the brands you listed.

I went to another trainer’s barn to try some sale horses, and hers were all outfitted in Billy Royal trainers. They were comfortable and fit each horse well (I do not know if they were all the same model or vintage). I was intrigued, and asked her about them. She said she had narrowed the brand down to different production years as it was hit or miss. I’ve had clients bring in Billy Royal saddles and I must say, for the most part, they do not tend to fit most horses well. If you know of someone who has several and can narrow down the good models/years, it might be more worth your time.

I picked up a Circle Y trainer as an extra, and it has become my go-to. It is light weight, fits most well (when it doesn’t fit, it tends to be because the skirt length is too long for a smaller horse, although it’s fairly short compared to the MAJOR brands like Harris and BR). The twist is narrow. Not only does it work well for arena work, but I find it’s the most comfortable for ME on a long trail ride. Some of my clients have also picked up Circle Y trainers since they liked mine so much.

A co-worker has a Rocking R reiner that she uses as a trainer, and she likes it pretty well. It has a big skirt, so may not be the best choice for youngsters/smaller horses. It looks nice, but I have not ridden in it.

I also have a Chavez trainer. It has a very short skirt and is very wide, so works well for short coupled, barrel shaped horses (many Arabians). It has a wide twist as well and more made for a man. It doesn’t see a ton of use but it’s great to have around when needed.

Bob’s makes training saddles that match their show saddles. You practice in a saddle that fits you and your horse just like your show saddle. I’d go with one of those over the brands listed.

Or a boatload of extra dees for attaching britchen or trail bags or water bottle holders. Made with nice sticky roughout leather. And no fancy tooling or finishing to be damaged by swinging tree branches on the trail or a young, green horse bouncing off the side of a round pen.

My opinion of them is positive.

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Those uses never occurred to me. Thank you for the upgrade!