Western Saddle Guide

Western Saddle Guide > Saddle Types > Swell Fork Saddle

Swell Fork Saddle

The swell fork saddle is named for the shape of it's fork. The "fork" is the saddle part at the front of the saddle tree that joins the bars together and provides a base for the horn. There are many styles of forks, but they fall into two main categories - "swell fork" and "slick fork" (also known as "A-fork").

saddle forks

The swell fork saddle has a "swell" that is generally 11 to 14 inches wide. The purpose of the swell is to help secure the rider in the saddle.

There are several different swell fork variations. The fork can be of varying width and thickness. It can attach to the tree at different angles - straight up, medium slope, full slope. It can even be "undercut" where the width of the swell is wider at the top than at the bottom where it attaches to the bars. In the early 1900's, some "undercut" saddles were so extreme they were nicknamed "widow-makers." They were popular for riding bucking horses and they kept you in so well, sometimes you couldn't get out.

Swells are usually found on competition saddles (barrel racing, cutting, reining, and roping) and also on trail and pleasure saddles. The swell fork saddle has been the most popular saddle type for the last 100 years and is what most people think of as a "western saddle."

saddle saddle


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