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Western Saddle Guide > Saddle Types > Wade Tree Saddle

Wade Tree Saddle

A Wade tree saddle is a slick fork buckaroo style that is specifically built to be a working saddle. It's designed for handling livestock and for maximum comfort during long, strenuous hours in the saddle.

Wade saddles have been popular with working cowboys in the Rocky Mountain region for some time. But recently they have exploded as the hot saddle in western riding. Why are they so hot? Is it just the latest fashion? We think not.

saddle tree
Wade Saddle Tree
The popularity of Wade tree saddles can be traced to two factors. First, Wade trees just make darn good using saddles. To ride one is to fall in love with one. They make you a better rider. You don't have much choice but to ride in the correct riding position. It can almost feel like cheating.

The second influential factor is master horseman, Ray Hunt's introduction of Wade saddles to western riders through his clinics around the world. If Ray rode a Wade, everyone wanted to ride a Wade. Today, many top horse clinicians have followed his lead, influencing thousands and thousands of riders. Wades have become a top seller for custom western saddle makers and now many manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon and include them in their product lines.

saddle
McCall
So, what makes them so special? Typical features of a Wade tree saddle include:
  • Sits exceptionally low and close to the horse giving the horse better leverage when holding roped livestock.
  • Short, stout horn built for dallying. Wood post horn (not metal) that is part of the laminated layers that create the fork. This construction allows the gullet area to be scooped out without sacrificing strength, and allows the saddle to sit lower on the horse.
  • The bars of the tree have more surface area in contact with the horse's back than most other western trees, providing better weight distribution.
  • Deep seat designed for comfort and security for long hours in the saddle
  • Stirrups are hung directly under the rider, placing the rider in the optimal balanced riding position.
  • Double rigging
  • Traditionally flat plate rigging, but in-skirt is becoming more popular
  • Higher cantle
saddle
Harwood
The Wade tree has an interesting history. The story goes that in the late 1930's Tom Dorrance, the original natural horseman, admired the saddle of a fellow cowboy, Clifford Wade. Clifford's father had brought the saddle with him when he moved to Oregon from the east. Dorrance took the saddle to the famous Hamley & Company Saddle Shop to have the tree copied and a new saddle made. After a number of modifications, Dorrance was satisfied and rode the saddle built from this tree for the rest of his career. Hamley wanted to market the tree under Dorrance's name but Tom insisted it be called the Wade Tree. The tree saw limited sales until saddlemaker Dale Harwood made a saddle on a Wade tree for Ray Hunt in the 1960's. Dale Harwood would go on to become a legend in western saddle making and is best known for his Wade tree saddles.

If a saddle built on a Wade tree is the choice of Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt, two of the finest horsemen to walk the earth, then it certainly is worth considering.


Check out the selection of quality Wade Saddles at HorseSaddleShop and in our eBay Tack Shop .

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