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Western Saddle Guide > Saddle Buying Guide > Buying a Custom Saddle > My Custom Saddle

My Custom Saddle Experience

I've always wanted my own custom saddle; a saddle designed specifically for me – my measurements, my preferences, my tastes. But it wasn't until the end of 2005 that I finally felt I was ready to take the plunge.

robert chavez saddleIt wasn't just financial readiness, although that is certainly a big part of it. More importantly, I finally felt I knew what I wanted and needed in a saddle. I had ridden many different saddles by then and had really zeroed in on what I liked and didn't like, what would suite my riding style and activities, and I could really appreciate the differences that a quality custom saddle provides.

So, at the end of 2006 I ordered a custom saddle from Robert Chavez of Tehachapi, California. Why did I choose Robert Chavez? I had the opportunity and pleasure of riding a Chavez saddle that belonged to a very accomplished horseman and friend, Steve Byrne. When I rode that saddle it was as if a light went off – this is how a saddle is supposed to ride.

robert chavez saddleThe saddle placed me in the perfect balanced riding position with my legs hanging straight down (unlike so many production saddles today which force your feet out in front and tip you back). And I could ride in that saddle all day and never get sore. So, for me the decision was easy.

Robert Chavez makes custom Wade tree saddles. The Wade saddle is a working style slick fork saddle that's designed to sit low on the horse and provide close contact. They have deep and comfortable seats designed for long hours in the saddle.

Robert grew up in ranching and learned from hands-on experience what makes a good working saddle. He's studied and practiced his craft for almost 20 years, building saddles for working cowboys, recreational riders, and collectors. As the photos on this page attest, Robert has mastered his craft.

robert chavez saddleWhen I ordered my saddle I made the following choices:

  • 93 degree bars - 90 and 93 degree bars are available. This measurement refers to the width of the gullet and angle of the bars. Roughly (very roughly) equivalent to Semi-QH bars and Full QH bars.

  • 15 ½" seat

  • Half breed/Partial floral - This means that the seat, fenders, and cantle back are rough out and that the fork, horn, front skirts, cheyenne roll, and rear jockeys are carved and stamped in the floral design. I elected to have additional carving on the cantle back. Check out Tooling Coverage to learn more about tooling options.

  • robert chavez saddleIn-skirt rigging

  • Stainless hardware

  • Matching breast collar

  • Bucking rolls

  • Mule hide horn wrap

  • 4 inch Monel stirrups

robert chavez saddleIn early January, about a year after I had placed my order, I received my saddle. As you can see from the photos, it's a sight to see. The saddle is just gorgeous craftsmanship.

It really is such a work of art that for a few days I just had it on display in my home. But, a saddle like this is designed for using, and so I took my first ride. The saddle did not disappoint. It fit me and my horse like a glove and gave me the ride I had dreamed about.

You can see more of Robert Chavez' work on his website RCSaddle.com.


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