Quarter Horse Bars?

January 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Saddle Fit, Saddle Parts

The tree is the foundation of the saddle and it’s job is to distribute the rider’s weight over the horse’s back, making it more efficient and comfortable for the horse.

A tree consists of five basic parts – the two bars that run parallel, the fork that holds the bars together at the front, the cantle that holds the bars together in the back, and the horn. The cutout or tunnel underneath the fork is called the gullet. The open space created between the bars is called the gullet channel.

One little known fact about saddle trees is that there aren’t any industry standards for saddle tree measurements and terminology. Different tree makers measure trees differently and even call the same trees by different names. It’s very important that you keep this in mind when shopping for a saddle, especially as it relates to the label assigned to the bars of a saddle.

There are some general categories for bar types based on gullet width, but there is little agreement as to the widths and the names of the categories. It can be very frustrating. You’ll even see names flip-flopped among the categories making for a tremendous amount of confusion when you’re saddle shopping.

The most common bar terms for western saddles are “full quarter horse bars,” and “semi-quarter horse bars.” You’ll see a variety of measurements listed for gullet width on these bar types, but there are no standards. And, to complicate even further, gullet width ]isn’t the only difference. You’ll also find that the rocker, twist, and flare angles of theĀ  trees will vary. [Read more about saddle trees]

So, when you’re saddle shopping start with an understanding of the following general guidelines, and then evaluate each saddle specifically for your horse.:

Full QH bars are generally suited for the traditional “bull dog” type quarter horse – stocky, broad-backed and somewhat flat-withered. Semi-QH bars were developed for the more slender type quarter horses that were being bred for recreational riders. These bars have a higher pitch compared to Full QH bars and suitable for a horse with well-formed withers and a narrower back.

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