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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Trophy Saddles

Why? I do not understand this concept. Why would you give a trophy saddle as a prize? A saddle is a very personal and important piece of tack. It must be correctly fitted to horse AND rider as well as be comfortable and functional for both. I have seen many trophy saddles for sale, and wonder, "Who would buy someone else's trophy saddle?" Really would you ride something that proclaimed that you were Calf Roping Champion 2003? What I don't understand is why not give a trophy bridle or a breastcollar? You could use that on any horse, and if not then, it is not just taking up a bunch of space. If they want to give a big nice trophy, perhaps a pair of engraved spurs or a nice buckle. I have seen trophy trailers too, heck who wouldn't take a new trailer? Here are some examples of some of the trophy saddles I have seen for sale recently...

Really, if you just HAVE to give a saddle as a trophy, why not give a gift certificate for a saddle from a tack store? That way the winner could pick exactly what he or she wants and make sure it fits.


  1. I am going to guess that the trophy saddles are not all that high quality given the fact that they are not custom fitted. I think the gift certificate for a saddle or tack is a great idea but in the interest of the prize presentation they are not as showey as a saddle. The stamped saddle yells "look at me" something I think most accomplished horse people do not do. I think the people that choose the prizes should think a little harder and realize they are giving the winner something that is basicly worthless. I realize it has a price tag and it is a saddle but what is the real value of the prize if it does not fit and cannot be sold. "$0". I really am blown away that anyone would want to buy someone elses award saddle. Someone elses acheivments really have no reflection on my ability nor mine on theirs. Unless I want to yell"this is not my saddle but I want you to think it is". For me, a check that I can use to feed and care for my horse, or a gift certificate for a piece of tack I actually like and can use would be a real prize.

  2. Actually, some trophy saddles are very good quality, but it's probably part of an older idea that the saddles are guaranteed to be of use to the winner. Probably why you see a lot of them for sale. Most people I know who ride in one... didn't win it. They just bought it because they needed a good saddle for their horse and didn't care what people thought. Anyways when they get older and get dirty and oiled a few times, the award titles fade a lot.

    And when buying a used one, well, no different than buying anything else -- you get to make sure it fits your horse first. If I were in the market for a barrel saddle, I'd give that NBHA one a chance. It's cute, and the NBHA part would get covered by the rider's leg.

  3. The second one is not as bad as far as trophy saddles go because the wording is understated and when you are mounted, you wouldn't even see it, but I always wondered about these and who buys them when they didn't "earn" them? I would much rather have something else as a prize than anything like these.

    If you are going to give a trophy saddle, why not use a silver plate for the wording that can be removed for resale? The last one........"All Around Sr Boy" certainly has a limited marketplace!

  4. I actually WON a trophy saddle myself one time (Rodeo Queen title) and it's a very well made, functional saddle. The saddles they give now are even more custom - but too me are starting to verge on something that should be posted on here with all the engraving, silver, and ostrich-hide seat. Mine is very functional and useable, it's done parades, gymkhanas, barrel races, trail rides and is currently being used to break out my green Arab. It has QH bars and has fit several different horses.

    The one thing that I really like about my saddle (and the second one featured above) is that only the fenders have any sort of title or award mentioned. It would be very easy and pretty inexensive to swap those out for some plain ones if I ever wanted to sell it on or have a more generic looking saddle.

  5. I can understand the saddles as prizes as they were thought to be 'useful', but if they don't fit you or your horse, then they are only useful for taking up space and collecting dust.

    Minimal tooling mentioning titles and such, in laces where the rider covers it up, aren't exactly offensive to me as nobody really sees it when you are riding.

    As far as putting the year on the saddles, well given time, it just makes you look like a long ago, washed up, 'has been', now doesn't it? It also keeps the age of the saddle in plain sight for everyone to see how well you have or haven't maintained it over time.

    And people buying tryophy saddles, isn't much different than buying a trophy buckle with nothing significant engraved on it.

  6. If I ever won a trophy saddle and didn't use it, I'd still keep it as decor if it was at all nice. Cuz it's a TROPHY!

    I like trophy directors chairs, coolers or .... trophies much better.

    If I won something superdooper important, I'm vain enough that I'd rather have a trophy plus a check. A gift certificate for new boots or something.

    People who wear their paper-plate Congress buckles or are otherwise ostentatious with their trophy gear get snorted at by judges, I think. Cuz you never know if they just bought it off of somebody.

  7. I like the second one. It has easily removed fenders and the saddle would still look really nice if you replaced them. As far as engraving and tooling the body of the saddle that just really takes things too far.

  8. I won a trophy saddle blanket once. I thought it was a great idea. It's one of the very nice quality, thick wool show ones with leather on the corner that says what I won it from. I can use it on any horse I want, and it folds up nice for storage. I think more places should give things like that as a prize.

  9. I also like it when they give out a bucket full of horse care supplies.

  10. At 4H Finals last year, the class winners got to choose a prize off the table.

    Halters, saddle pads- english and western, buckles, magnetic number holders, hay nets, buckets... there was an assortment of things to choose from. The items on the table were sized as such to fit pretty much any horse as well as being useful to whoever chose it.

    I thought that was a Genius move on the part of the organizers and leaders! Well done!

  11. I think they are cool, and I'd keep one if I won it even if it just sat there gathering dust. But I'm a bit of a prize-horder. I keep every peensie ribbon too.

    I do wear a buckle that I did actually win. It's not a huge paper-plate kind and I giggle when I do see folks sporting a giant purchased buckle that has no true significance. Oh well! (shrug)

    But... I guess buckle-bunnies have a purpose too.

  12. The whole idea is its a trophy. Not really meant to be used. Do you use the silver platters that are handed out at english shows? NO! I think it would be a honor to win a saddle, space be damned!

  13. I too never quite got the concept of trophy saddles. They take up a lot of space to just hang out as a trophy.
    I giggled at the one that was won for 2008 Year End award--didn't take that person long to want to dump the thing.
    The prize table that Cut-N-Jump tells of is a wonderful idea. Walking the prize table is a good feeling in itself.

  14. I think one thing that a lot of people forget is that trophy saddles are usually donated by the sponsor, and a lot of times they want to give you one of their high-end saddles so others will say WOW! What saddle is that? And then they'll go buy one. Well, that's the theory, anyway.

    I plan to do a trail ride competition someday, and I have already worked out with a small saddle company that they will give a gift certificate for one of their straight-run saddles (which come in multiple models and sizes to fit rider and horse and multiple colors), and then the person can pick and choose the model and size they need for them and their horse.

    I definitely don't like branding the year, title, etc. on the saddle. I think the second one is the best of the three because it's only on the stirrup fenders, like many of you said. That's easy to replace. Overall, though, I just don't like taking the chance that the saddle won't fit the horse or rider. Saddle fit is one of my biggest concerns with riding as it is a safety concern for both the rider and the horse. I would rather give out a customized halter, director's chair, belt buckle, or a plaque for awards.

  15. CNJ, for the English 4-H finals, they gave out simple belt buckles for the champions and reserve champions. They had English riders and horses on them. They were in very good taste and very pretty! For the rest of the prizes, they got to pick from the table.

  16. The trainer where I used to board had a number of trophy saddles. Luckily, they appeared to be the same brand/model/style of his normal saddles, so he could use them. The last place I boarded, though, they had a couple of trophy saddles that just sat in their little room they used as their tack store. Nobody bought them (I don't think they were for sale) and nobody rode in them. What a waste.

  17. Yeah, I don't understand trophy saddles unless you're, like, Congress Queen or NRHA Champ. or something....

    Gimme a trailer!!

    hee hee

    Actually, instead of a directors chair, I'd rather have one of those camp chairs w/ a built in sunshade. Hey, you can screen-print those!!

  18. Wayfarer and katphoti are right - the trophy saddles are usually very high end sponsor-donated, and you'd be surprised how many of them get used, not just displayed. Too, the great majority of horses ridden in those trophy saddles are quarter horses and/or paints, and while every horse has different conformation, the general build of those saddles is intended to fit stock horse-types.

    Of course, I'm with cattpex - I'd take a trailer in a heartbeat! :)

  19. Kat- the kid you judged that leased our horse last year, brought home 4 buckles- one each for English HP, Western HP, and overall HP, the fourth one she chose off the table, a halter, an english pad, a western pad and a host of other 'loot' in addition to the ribbons. If there were a trailer, she probably would have brought it home too!

    Trophy saddles are often donated from solicitations for sponsorships. Most companies, if offering a trophy saddle, try to provide a well made product that will most likely fit the majority of the horses competing for it. They want it to fit, they want it to be comfortable, they want it to be used and they want it to last.

    However, not all companies work this way and not all the trophy saddles offered as prizes are something anyone would or even could be, proud of.

    Besides- most people competing long and hard enough to *win* a saddle, already have well made, quality tack that fits them and their horse. It's not like we are routinely seeing the best horse & rider out there, competing in craptastic, pieced together junk they picked up at the bottom of the bargain bin.

    Add me to the list of *takers* for the horsetrailer.

  20. In our little club each saddle winner has input in the saddle to be ordered and can even contribute some funds to the saddle money to get the one he or she wants. E.g., saddle fund for the division is $1,000, contribute $500 of your own to get the saddle you want. The saddle is custom ordered and arrives for the awards banquet a couple of months after the end of the show season. It does have the award info on the fenders, but I figure those could be replaced if the saddle was later sold.

  21. I make saddles for a living and trophy saddles are a large part of my business.
    Horses of the same breed are very similar in size, and mostly quarter horses are in events like roping and barrel races.
    Very few people want a custom fitted saddle because they want to ride several different horses.
    Quarter horse wooden trees, rawhide wrapped of good quality will fit about 80% of all quarter horses with a little help from proper pads and blankets in my experience. Happy Trails,
    Jeremy @

  22. Beautiful picture of different type of saddles, i also have two Premium Saddles which are my favorite.

  23. I needed a saddle and looked everywhere. I could buy a custom saddle from a local maker starting at $1500. I did not have that much. The same maker has made several trophy saddles for saint jude. So I found a running p for $500. Same saddle but I didn't win it? So I bought it to ride until I can afford a nicer non-trophy saddle. It is what it is... quality without the cost.