I can't emphasize enough that when shopping for a saddle online that the key question is what the tree is made of. Presently there are two saddles on ebay showing broken horns on saddles with a fiberglass tree. Yes there is some baffle gab about using fiberglass to reinforce for strength making these strong trees. but then why did the horn's break? I have a few pics of serious cracks in a fiberglass tree that occurred before or on the first ride. I've had numerous emails regarding whether or not these can be fixed. All were purchased on ebay. The low price and bling was what appealed to the buyers.
I agree, most if not all the Import Western Saddles from Kanpur, India use Hollow Fiberglass Trees, you can usually tell when and if the give the weight, a 16" Roping Saddle weighs 25 lbs, a 16" all Leather Trails Saddle weighs 23 lbs. Kind of gives you a hint something is wrong :eek:
95% of these Saddles are made in Kanpur, India, they go out their back door to the Ganges River and drag a Water Buffalo in and use the Leather from it.
Yes, many of these Saddles are Beautiful, lots of Hand Tooling (these people only make $1.00 a day for this), but the silver is usually not silver and is a type of tin, that turns very nasty in a few months after you get it.
I have seen too many Broken Trees and know of quite a few Horse that have been in Rehab from people using these Saddles.
Any New Leather Saddle for 200.00-250.00 is worth what you paid for it, nothing. What gets me is some of these Saddles actually sell for 400.00-500.00 as much or more than a basic decent American Made Saddle :(
PS, using Fiberglass to strengthen a Solid Wood American Made Tree is OK, but again you can tell they will last, because the Saddle will weigh about 10 lbs. more than the Hollow Import Western Trees :D
Southerntrails-thanks for backing me up on this one. Another thing with these economy saddles is the rawhide horn wrapping - paper thin. Rawhide is very strong but needs to be much thicker than what is being used on these saddles. Saddlemakers can do little if anything to repair these saddles. I love the Warranty that accompanies these - what, as soon as you take it out of the box the warrantee expires?
Can someone get a list together of saddle makers that do NOT use the fiberglass trees?
We took one Import Saddle apart and they has the bullhide over the hollow fiberglass and it covered 15% of the tree and it did not cover any stress points....lol...
I would like to mention, the Internet has distorted one fact, Ralide is not a fiberglass tree, they are injection molded polyethylene, lb for lb one of the strongest trees on the market.
There are over 300 Companies in Kanpur, India that use the hollow fiberglass trees also know as "fiber-tough". They go by so many names and one importer here may sell to 20 people in the US under different names.
Ralide, Bowman and Steele Trees are by far the most common " Good Trees" in the US.
Major Brands to avoid:
King Series, Royal King, Silver King, Double T, Double S, Showman (the one in NC), Silver Royal, Hilason, Buffalo, Shiloh.
Those are the ones that pop up a lot, but as I mentioned Check weights, that is an indicator. :mrgreen:
A person who had sold her horses bro't an import in to my shop for me to consign. I won't consign such a saddle but she wanted me to clean it up so it gave me an oppurtunity to check the tree. I'd never seen wood like that before, a bazillion worm holes. I put it on the saddle stand, sat in it and for the life of me couln't find the stirrup without bending down and hand twisting the leather look synthetic. Someone bo't it from the lady. A few months later i was called to make a farm call as the horse had begun bucking all the time. Lo and behold, there was the saddle which had made the horse very sore from fitting so badly.
Often we see saddles advertised a bull hide covered tree. Now that can mean a rawhide covered tree laced with deer hide lacing OR it can mean the second split of split leather laced on with split leather lacing. Rawhide provides a protective barrier from the vagaries of weather plus strengthens the tree. The split does nothing as we all know how fast a split leather seat can soak up water if caught in a downpour.
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