To compete in barrel racing, you are going to need a barrel saddle. The barrel saddle is deigned to be lighter in weight in order to shave seconds off your time. They are the smallest version of the traditional western saddles, to ensure lightness. The skirts are designed to be rounded, which also account for the lighter weight. Typically the rigging is in the skirt, which also allows the lighter weight of the saddle. The barrel saddle features a deep seat and a high cantle in order to secure the rider at high speeds and tight turns. The horn is of a thinner build, so that a rider can hold on to it during the tight arcs. The pommel or fork of the saddle is also higher to ensure security of rider's seat. They tend to feature rough-out jockeys and fenders to aid in rider grip. Much of the of the desired features of a barrel saddle are for rider security in the saddle at high speeds. The fenders are designed to be free-swinging to allow the rider the freedom of motion to remain under their center of gravity and thus in the saddle. The stirrups tend to be narrower and provide better grip so that the rider's feet remain in place and do not become dislodged. A Back Cinch is typically used to ensure that at higher speeds, the saddle does not ride forward on the horse. Also used in conjunction with the back cinch, a breast collar is used to keep the saddle from sliding off the sides of the horse's barrel.
Typically a female dominated sport, barrel racing saddles often have a very flashy look. The use of bold colors are common, such as pinks, blues, purples, and greens. Ostrich leather is commonly used as a seat and skirt accent, which can provide extra grip. The saddles are often accented in silver studs, crystals, conchos, and inlay. Barrel racing saddles are becoming more flashy as certain trends in the sport become poplar. Saddle manufacturers will change and modify designs of saddles to accommodate these current trends and styles. So when considering a new barrel saddle take in to account all the features and designs that are available.