It's traditional for western saddles to have square skirts. If you watch an old Western on TV, that's what you'll see. It's what you'll see at most western pleasure horse shows too. If you are serious about showing in western pleasure competitions, then it's probably wise to conform and purchase a saddle with a square skirt. But otherwise, you may want to consider breaking with tradition and purchasing a saddle with a rounded skirt instead. Here are a few key reasons why round-skirt western saddles tend to be a good choice.
Round-skirt western saddles are often cheaper.
It takes less leather to make a western saddle with a round skirt than one with a square skirt. As such, round-skirt saddles tend to be cheaper. If you're on a tight budget, this can be a wise way to save on a western saddle. You can still buy a saddle with a solid tree and a comfortable seat, but pay less than you would otherwise. If you find a saddle you like but it has a square skirt, don't hesitate to ask the maker or vendor if there's a comparable round-skirt model. It will generally be priced lower.
Round-skirt saddles are lighter.
Western saddles have a reputation for being heavy, and some of that weight comes from the big, square skirt. Round-skirt saddles use less material, and as such, they tend to weigh less. Your horse will appreciate carrying around less weight on longer rides, and you'll appreciate not having to lift such a heavy saddle onto his or her back.
Round-skirt saddles fit short-backed horses better.
Shorter-backed horses can have a hard time fitting into western saddles since those western saddles tend to be longer. Round-skirted saddles are shorter, which makes them a better fit for horses with shorter backs. If you have a thoroughbred or an Arabian and have been avoiding riding in a western saddle due to fit, it may be wise to try a round-skirt one.
Round-skirt saddles are easier to store.
Storing a smaller saddle is often easier. The skirt is less likely to rub against or bump into the wall behind it. You can more easily drape a blanket over the saddle and have it completely covered.
Round-skirted western saddles are not as traditional as square-skirted ones, but sometimes it's smart to break with tradition. If you're looking for a lighter, less expensive, easy-to-store saddle for a horse with a short back, it's worth trying a round-skirt saddle.
Contact a retailer for more information about western saddles.