Manufacturer: Alamo (View all products by Alamo Saddlery)
Model: Chocolate Barrel Racer (View all Chocolate Barrel Racer reviews)
Category: Barrel Saddles
Purchase: I was looking to buy a nice barrel racing saddle but wanted something that was quality but had a flashy, newer, more modern look. I bought it from a local saddle shop and with a $600 trade in on a good quality western equitation saddle and silver headstall that I was not using. I paid 900 for the saddle and matching headstall and breast collar. I have seen the saddle alone retail for about $1000- $1200, and headstall and breast collar set for $300-$400 online. This saddle's price tag was marked as being $1,100 in the store.
Likes: I love the look, colors and styling. Alamo is known for their "jewelry on" style of tack. The photos of this saddle online do not do it justice at all. It makes it look darker and more drab than it is in person. The double basket/diamond weave and floral style tooling and color combo as well as the real crystals give it a very pretty, flashy look without being tacky looking. It has a natural rawhide wrapped cantle and horn as well as braiding and accents on the matching tack they look great. I also love the positioning the seat gives the rider as it has a "free feeling" puts you in the center and not pushed into the cantle so you are ready to come forward to run or sit back to slow into the turns. The seat also sits wider, or has a wider twist which accommodates my wide hips great. The saddle's off billet is even tooled and stitched to match the saddle which i thought was cool. It also has a laminated wood tree instead of Ralide which was preferred by the repair manager. It is manufactured on a regular QH bar tree with 6-3/4 inch gullet.
Dislikes: I don't like the stirrups it came with. They are natural rawhide to match the lacing on the cantle and horn however they are very small in general and I wear a ladies 9-10 shoe and they are not safe for me so I have replaced them with aluminum barrel stirrups. I also wish the skirt was cut out under the fenders for the riders legs to have more contact with the horse, there is a little friction rubbing in that area. I am a little disappointed that the stirrup leathers are just traditional plain with holes and Blevins and don't have a nylon or or double leather core to keep them from stretching. Also I wish that Alamo saddlery would make bigger sizes standard. They mostly only make 14", and 15" seats I am usually a 15.5" seat but when I tried the 15" at the tack store it fit more like a 14.5" so I knew that I was going to have to go up to a 16" seat and had to have a 16" Made upon request which does fit me great, but you have to wait a few weeks for them to make up and ship out. So I think Alamo saddlery seats run small.
Quality: I was skeptical about buying this saddle because although I loved everything about the styling, other Alamo saddles got mostly bad reviews online. So this is the reason why I chose to write a thorough review this saddle to help those who are interested in Amamo's see the good and bad points. When I was looking in the saddle shop at Billy Cooks and Circle Y's which I highly respect as quality saddles, I just wasn't into the traditional styles and tooling they all just seemed to be missing something that I was looking for so after looking at about 8 different saddles this Alamo chocolate saddle was suggested to me by the shop's repair manager. I loved it and after sitting in it and touching and inspecting it in person I felt that it was very well built and sturdy and of decent quality leather. I purchased it and informed the manager of the bad reviews of hardware breaking and conchos falling off and he reassured me that he has sold about 6 of them and have never had them come back and that he was so confident in its durability that if anything were to fall off or break he would personally repair it at no cost. Well, I have used it about 5 times now, and the last ride I went on was a rough one. I have ran a few barrels in it at home in the arena and taken it out on a two hour trail ride up and over steep hills and down rough terrain. Even through water. I let my horse run full speed about a 1/4 mile through a field in it and I must say, that it held up great. I was comfortable the whole time, and so was my horse. The saddle kept up with my performance beautifully, and looked great while doing it. The headstall and breast collar are beautiful and durable as well. And although I have seen better, the leather quality is still great, just needed some neatsfoot oil. I have tugged and tried to turn the conchos and they are in there solid as well as the crystal prisms. I don't think anything is going to fall off for long time, if ever. The yellow fleece underside is superior quality, not the synthetic white stuff, and seems like it will hold up and be comfortable for a long time. It also seems like it will help with fitting a variety of horses as it is thick but will compress in the right areas.
Summary: I think that this particular Alamo saddle is of great quality. I would definitely recommend it to a friend as a good buy. It is functional enough for speed and comfortable enough for casual riding. Its also very pretty but will hold up to dirty work. It is breaking in well and over all I am confident that this saddle will be around to turn heads for a very long time.
Usefulness Rating: 3.23333 out of 5.
30 reader(s) voted.
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