Manufacturer: The Natural Ride Company (View all products by Natural Ride)
Model: "Sport Model" & "Old Style" (View all "Sport Model" & "Old Style" reviews)
Category: Trail Saddles
Purchase: After contacting the company that makes these, I am buying my THIRD Natural Ride Bareback Saddle today! I was given my 1st one (w/english irons)while at college by friends who knew about my bareback addiction...... I raved to a friend when I was forced to test drive it on another friends mule. I couldn't believe you could actually USE the stirrups to get on!!!! I've never been one to just swing up on a horse - I'm always looking for a log, rock, bumper, etc. to be able to get on my arabs. Five years, and 1000 +/- miles later, the last strands of my Natural Ride girth rode away.....So, I bought a new one from Butte Creek Outfitters - $150 or so, w/ western stirrups and black synthetic pad. My friends in college had purchased the 1st one there, so I followed suite. Another five years later, and the rigging bit the dust again in the same spots. So, now that the company has improved the cinch design to resemble a western latigo setup, I'm buying Natural Ride number THREE!!!!! $125 with free shipping from the company that makes them.
Likes: This is a true saddle replacement. I have a $1k wintec pro endurance saddle (NICE gel seat) that sat and gathered dust because the Natural Ride is WAY more comfortable!!!! In my opinion - it's actually safer than a "real" saddle for beginners. This saddle fits EVERY horse. And don't forget - YOU CAN USE THE STIRRUPS TO GET UP FROM THE GROUND!!!! The "tree" does not slide. I have used this for giving lessons, riding in gymkhana's, fair parades, endurance, weekly rides on the Pacific Crest Trail, SWIMMING!!!!! You feel soooo close to your horse that you can communicate with very light commands, but yet, it is extremely comfortable for all day riding. And in the winter, you can gloat about how warm you are while everyone else is shivering. When my son was very young, I was able to tie on kiddie western stirrups to the hard plastic handle, and he could ride securely in front of me (he was too little to hang on in back). I just put an xlarge pad under the Natural Ride - placed about 6" forward so my son could be comfy. We rode hundreds of miles together before he grew too big (I couldn't see around his helmet :)
Dislikes: Gosh Darn It - You Can't Get Replacement Parts!!!!!!! I shouldn't complain - I absolutely got more than my money's worth out of these. I just wish I could get new nylon riggings, because the rest of the unit is fine on both of my worn out ones - Even the pads! The western stirrups are more comfortable than the english irons. The weight of the irons "cluncked" against my horses legs if I was not careful to put them up when I was on the ground. Also, the stirrups can be hard to get adjusted equally, but you can solve this by using a sharpie mark on the nylon. The benefit is that it's so adjustable. I wouldn't know how to improve on it further. Last, but not really a problem, is that you do need to use another pad under the one they give you. If not, you will get sticky wet with horse sweat all the way through your jeans. The best combo is an english trail pad with built-in saddlebag pockets ($35 State Line). Barrel pads also work well.
Quality: AWESOME PRODUCT!!!!!! Well made! Rode the living daylight out of the two I previously had (and the cinch was pretty crappy on the original versions). The new style is dorky looking, but has an all-important upgrade - a built in latigo so you can change girths when they wear out. My friend has the "Sport" model, after wearing out an original one. She loves it! She doesn't even own a horse - she just horsey-surfs :) She rides more than me now! All breeds, all sizes, shapes, and ages. Everyone fits in the Natural Ride.
Summary: Don't buy a saddle until you try this!!!! Your horse (and your butt) will love you for it!!! I would use a Natural Ride over ANY saddle any day! For plus-sized women, I was once one of you (215# !)- But I could still ride because of the comfort and stability of the Natural Ride! As I lost weight (85#'s), it just got better - and is just as comfortable!
Author: In Memory of Bedazzle, 1980-2010
Usefulness Rating: 4 out of 5.
27 reader(s) voted.
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