Western Saddle Guide

Western Saddle Guide > Saddle Types > Custom Saddle

Custom Saddle

A custom saddle is built by hand with high quality materials according to an individual customer’s specifications. In most instances, one saddlemaker builds the entire saddle, although apprentices may work on less critical items such as covering stirrups or making straps. (Read about the different saddle production techniques. ) The typical hand-crafted saddle requires 35-50 hours to build, however, a more detailed saddle can take quite a while longer.

CowboyShowcase.com presents an interesting photo series of the saddlemaking process.

Master saddle maker Dale Harwood also has a new four DVD set, "The Art Of Saddle Making" that documents Dale's techniques and process for creating the works of arts that are his saddles. The DVD set is priced at $399.95 and worth every penny. To order call 800.349.7078 or email trc@wildblue.net

There is a wide range of skill among custom saddlemakers. Saddle making is an art and a craft that takes time to master. Many of the top saddlemakers working today (Dale Harwood, Chuck Stormes, Chas Weldon, Steve Mecum), have long waiting lists and well-deserved prices that place them out of reach for most of us. The good news is that there are many talented, but lesser known, saddlemakers creating wonderful saddles in small saddlery shops throughout the country.

If you decide to have your own saddle built, you will really need to do your homework. Talk to knowledgeable people about the different saddlemakers, ride in their saddles, and closely evaluate their work. The quality of a saddle is dependent upon the quality of the materials and the level of skill of the saddlemaker. Make sure to check out Buying a Custom Saddle and My Custom Saddle Experience.


Check the selection of custom saddles available in our eBay Tack Shop.

You’ll find that prices for custom saddles fall within a relatively narrow range among saddlemakers. Quality materials cost each saddlery shop about the same and most factor in a similar amount for their time. Currently, a typical custom saddle will cost between $2500 and $4000. More elaborate saddles can cost quite a bit more. If you find a saddlemaker with prices significantly lower, you should be suspect. They are cutting costs somewhere – either in material or in time and craftsmanship.

Wade Saddle by Robert Chavez
When you order a saddle, you’ll discuss with your saddlemaker the type of saddle you’re interested in and provide all of your individual measurements and preferences. You'll provide your height, weight, and inseam. You’ll discuss all of the different options available – fork and bar type, seat size, cantle height, horn, stirrups, rigging, and much more. Having your own saddle built for you affords you the ability to truly customize a saddle to your individual specifications and preferences. Saddlemakers are experts at walking you through the entire process and will help you decide what would work best for you.

It typically will take 3 to 12 months to have your saddle built, depending on the saddlemaker’s backlog. Most will require a non-refundable down payment, which is reasonable considering they must purchase materials in advance. The balance is usually due on delivery of the finished saddle. It should go without saying that custom saddles are not returnable. Make sure you have a written contract with your saddle maker which includes a delivery date and also get a receipt for your deposit.

We recommend that you wait to order a custom saddle until you have a solid understanding of the different saddle types and options, and what your individual preferences are. Our best advice is to ride in as many different saddles as you can. Don’t pass up an opportunity to jump in a saddle and try it out. You’ll soon get a sense of your likes and dislikes. Then you’ll be ready to order your custom saddle.

Investing in a custom saddle may seem like a luxury, but having a high quality saddle built to your own individual specifications will be an investment and a pleasure that will last a lifetime. That can’t be said about too many other purchases you’ll make.


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