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Western Saddle Guide > Saddle Parts > Skirts

The Saddle Skirts

The saddle skirts are the large pieces of heavy leather that attach to the underside of the saddle tree bars. The purposes of the skirts are:

  1. To protect the horse from the bars
  2. To distribute the rider's weight over a wider surface area
  3. To protect the rider from the horse's sweat

Skirts are made out of two pieces of heavy leather and are laced together in the back. They are attached to the bars with screws and nails, and held in place with the saddle strings.

saddle There are two main shapes of skirts - round and square. The round skirt, sometimes called a California skirt after the state where it was most popular, lessens the bulk of the saddle. The square skirt, often called a Texas skirt, is the more traditional style and provides more protection to the horse from heavy brush. Of late, round skirts have increased in popularity.

On the underside of the skirts is a sheepskin lining. The sheepskin provides a soft layer between the horse and the saddle, but more importantly, provides a friction surface to keep the saddle blanket in place. Sheepskin can be either natural or synthetic. Natural sheepskin is thicker and more durable but attracts insects and rodents who love to munch on it. Synthetic sheepskin isn't as thick, but it's less expensive and won't be eaten.

On many skirts you'll find a Dee ring towards the front for connecting a breast collar. Some skirts will also have a "wear leather," a patch of an additional layer of leather, under the rigging Dee rings to protect the skirt from heavy use.

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