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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hi-Ho Silver!!!

So, how much is too much? When it comes to show saddles, it seems that the more silver that can be crammed onto it the better. I have seen some that barely have any leather showing at all. They are so encrusted in silver, they must weigh a ton. I have always been under the apparently mistaken impression that the whole point in show tack is for it to compliment, but not outshine the horse it is on. That it should look clean, professional and above all not distract the judge from seeing what really matters, the horse. I prefer a small amount of silver accents on medium to darker colored tack. I do not like the heavily tooled, silver encrusted things I have been seeing. I especially do not like them when they are such light colored leather as to be almost white. This is a nice saddle to me.

It has minimal silver, is a nice medium color, and the tooling pattern is not so deep or heavily accented as to be too "busy". I would not be hesitant at all to use this saddle on my husband's big black mare. I would like to see what the stirrups looked like, but the photo cuts them off. With a nice dark colored saddle blanket or a nice patterned one, this would make a nice turn out. It would not distract the judge, but would accent the horse.

Here we have a nice black show saddle, not too flashy, and the tooling pattern doesn't overpower the rest of the saddle. I really like black tack, I think this would look nice on my little red mare.

I also don't think that a show saddle should HAVE to have silver. I think a nice tooling pattern looks just as good. I really like this saddle a lot.
Now, on to the complete opposite end of the spectrum. This saddle looks more like it belongs in the Rose Bowl parade or on Trigger than in a show ring. I am not sure if they COULD cram any more silver onto it. Maybe if they added silver stirrups and some silver around the edges of the fenders.

These three also bother me, they are just too busy. If I were judging a class and any of these were on a horse, I am not sure I could look anywhere else.

Here is one advertised as "dripping with silver", it is also that light colored leather. I also love how they have very kindly photo shopped in the "sparkles" , just in case you couldn't be blinded by the reflection off the silver alone. I also am bothered by the super busy tooling pattern.

I think in the case of show tack, we should lean more toward a polished, professional appearance. "All things in moderation," is a good idea in my opinion.


  1. My thought with all that silver is people ARE trying to distract the judge. That is one reason my family got out of showing. Our (at the time) breed standard Appaloosa (see no main or tail and huge blanket with spots) that had on nice simple but classy tack, was losing to QH and TB type appys with loads of silver. I can't stand that much silver. Granted I have an awesome Circle-y (black) with a little bit of silver. It is similar to the black one you posted.

  2. I also think that they are putting so much silver so the judge won't notice that their horses are lame on all four legs, four beating at the lope, and are dragging their faces in the arena dirt. (Oh and don't tell me this isn't true or that it dosen't happen. I have video that I took at a big show in Texas to prove otherwise.)

  3. That last saddle HAS to be a Silver Mesa....LOL....

    Yes, I like the first three.....those pictures after that....well, if I had one, it would be sitting in my living room, displayed as *functional art*. It would take a BIG horse with a lot of attitude to carry that off.

    The NFQHA (foundation qh) doesn't allow silver. I pulled this off their website:
    *NO SILVER - In the interest of equality for competitors, no silver plate is allowed.*

    I need a little silver.....but not enough to wear me out when I polish it....LOL....

  4. Sheesh I can just imagine what those things must weigh!

  5. I don't really like the squared sides of the last saddle, but silver doesn't bother me. Clothes and saddles are your ways of expression in the WP ring--you can pretty much do whatever you want.
    I've shown in a synthetic black saddle and won at registered APHA shows, so--silver doesn't make a difference to the judge. They don't have time to look at it.
    'They won because they have more silver!' usually means one of two things--a sore loser, or a really horrible judge.

  6. I pity the poor judge that goes blind from the sun reflecting off the saddle! Geez, lets pay attention to the natural beauty of western horses and not pay as much attention to the tack. A plain saddle with minimal "bling" would be fine!