Western Show Saddles and Tack
It is getting to be that time of year again! Time to brush off the winter woolies and get you and your horse ready for summer show season! Are you and your tack ready? The Western show world changes season to season with what is “in-style”, but there are some classics that just can't be beat.
If you are showing in Western Pleasure, Western Riding, Western Horsemanship and even some trail classes, you are going to need a show saddle. Western show saddles vary in color, but the most popular with AQHA seems to be very light oil saddles, with black seats, and loads of silver. Some new styles are bringing in black trim, or black and copper inlay, or even darker medium oil leather, but these are all “trends” that may or may not stick around. A nice light oil saddle dripping with silver will look nice with every horse, and is a solid “go-to” item if you don't want to be buying a new show saddle every year. Most show saddles have double skirts, with silver in both corners. Usually the skirts are heavily tooled, and the silver is engraved for maximum shine. There may also be silver on the cantle, pommel (swell), and the horn or stirrups depending on the style. Keep in mind all of that silver is going to catch the judge's eye- so take your riding into account when picking out a show saddle. If your leg moves around a lot while jogging or loping, stay clear of stirrups with silver on them. If your hands are busy or not independent of your seat, try for a saddle with less silver on the pommel and horn. If you have great posture, make sure there is silver on the cantle to highlight your straight back and quiet seat.
Depending on what breed you are showing, your type of bridle and reins may change. Right now in AQHA Western Pleasure, double ear silver beaded headstalls with plain leather split reins are in style. Keep in mind the shape of your horse's head when you are picking a style. Even if the style is “in,” it may not be flattering for your horse's head. If your horse has a wide broad head, a full browband will be more slimming than a double ear. If you are showing Arabian's and saddle-type horses, you can use weighted Rommel reins with silver beads. Depending on your horse and what class you are in, you can use a thin, silver loaded breast collar as well.
Western Show Apparel
The point of all of the silver and “bling” on show saddles and riders is to catch the judge's eye out of a group of many. You and your horse need to present a polished, put together appearance without being over-the-top. Generally a more subdued but perfected look is preferred to something bright colored and glitzy. You want the judge to look at you, not be blinded by you. You need to have a hat that has been custom formed for you, and it should match your chaps. If your leg moves around while you are riding, you should try to match your chaps to your horse or saddle to make it stand out less. Your boots should also be similar in color to your chaps. Western show shirts are usually made of a slinky material, and features patterns and colors with silver or crystals. Try to pick a color that looks nice on your horse, and find a matching saddle blanket to complete the look. You and your horse should be groomed to perfection- slicked back, controlled hair for you, and shiny, smooth, spotless coat with well brushed or banded mane for the horse.
Keep all of these tips in mind when preparing you and your horse's apparel for this upcoming showing season. A well turned out pair of horse and rider will really be the icing on the cake to a well bred and trained horse. Good luck!