Manufacturer: American Saddlery
Model: Apache Barrel Saddle
Category: Barrel Saddles
Purchase: I bought my Apache Barrel Saddle online from Country Supply. The list price for the saddle is $400-. Country Supply had sent me a coupon for 10% off any one item so I ended up paying a WHOPPING $360- for my barrel saddle and, having ridden several different horses in it for a couple of months now, I have to say, I would have paid twice that for it. I was seeking an affordable entry-level barrel saddle. A friend had purchased another model of barrel saddle from American Saddlery and was pleased with the quality for the price and my trainer approved of that saddle, so I felt confident ordering one for myself. The shipping was fair at about $15- and the saddle arrived in mere days.
Likes: The saddle is, overall a very nice-looking barrel saddle. I like the round skirt for my short-backed, fat little mare because she tends to look lost under a saddle with huge skirts. It has attractive tooling on the skirts, swells and cantle. The saddle also rides very comfortably, both for horse and for rider. It has good, thick fleece padding for your horse's back. It fits both of my horses well. My gelding, who's a very tough fit, being long in the back with flat narrow withers (1/2 arab 1/2 saddlebred) LOVES this saddle. I can get him to collect up nicer in this saddle than in my dressage saddle. It also fits my short-backed fat QH mare. It is a great find to have a saddle that fits BOTH of my horses. This saves me a ton of money and I like that! The saddle is a very secure ride for me, as well with the padded suede seat, high cantle and rough-out fenders. If you fall off in this saddle, find another hobby!
Dislikes: The saddle ships from the manufacturer with a nylon off-billet and latigo strap. I'm not a big fan of the nylon latigo, because I find the nylon slips more than leather. This is easily replaced for about $10-. The off-billet being nylon doesn't bother me. This saddle, like most western saddles, has a dee-ring on either side of the front part of the skirt for attaching your breastplate too. In my opinion, these Dees are set too low for a barrel horse, who needs to be able to pick up those shoulders (often very SUBSTANTIAL shoulders) and MOVE!!! Most western saddles, including most barrel saddles do have the dee rings in this low position, but some of the manufactures, such as Court's Saddlery who makes the Sharron Camarrillo saddle, have begun putting the dees higher up near or even on the swells. I think this is one simple way that American Saddlery could improve this saddle. This is also a modification you could do yourself for very short money.
Quality: This is not your $1500 Circle Y, but I also didn't pay $1500 for it. I was looking for an entry level barrel saddle for short money, as barrel racing was not my primary discipline, just something I wanted to try for fun for minimal investment. This saddle is SO comfortable and balanced that I have all but abandoned my hunt seat saddle! The saddle, by all appearances seems to be made appropriately for the discipline. The suede and leather components are all of pleasant quality. The only thing that I would say that maybe looks a little chintzy about the saddle is the few silver conchos. They all seem to be hung just a little crooked... But I did not buy the saddle for the show ring and frankly would not care of all the silver fell right off. Nothing on the saddle thus far has shown faulty workmanship. All rivets, lacing are intact. I feel that for $400- if you get a saddle that is comfy for you, comfy for your horse and looks good, too, you got a great deal.
Summary: You can definitely get better saddles, if you want to PAY for it. The Camarillo Saddles and the Circle Y saddles are great. But you will pay three times as much. It's your call. But if you're trying to get to the gymkhana on a budget, I strenuously recommend the saddle. It's well worth the price. You will get years of enjoyment out of it and you and your beloved horse will be comfortable every step of the way - very important as you turn & burn, Baby!
Author: Heidi Bosworth
Usefulness Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
6 reader(s) voted.
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