Western Saddle Library
Western saddles are more than just pieces of equipment. They're collector's items. They're a piece of history. They're examples of beautiful craftsmanship. They're works of art.
Below is a list of our favorite saddle books with our comments on each one. We own all of these great books and they're all a bit dog-eared from use. Some are out of print and only available used, but they're all worth tracking down to add to your personal collection. Click on the title or the cover image to go to Amazon for more information and to purchase.
You'll also want to check out our our recommendations for best riding and western lifestyle magazines.
Western Saddle Guide eBook Series
Author: Western Saddle Guide
Summary: This three eBook series is packed with the in- depth and comprehensive information and illustrations from the website in an easy-to-use printable format. Our readers requested a printable version of our content that they can use anywhere – curled up at home, in the arena, the stable, or the saddle shop.
- Western Saddles: Pain-Free Fit[DVD]
- The Horse's Pain-Free Back and Saddle-Fit Book
- The Western Horse's Pain-Free Back and Saddle-Fit Book
Author: Joyce Harman, DVM
Summary:Veterinarian and expert saddle fitter, Joyce Harman, has created both two great books and a DVD about saddle fit. So far, our favorite is the DVD which does a great job of presenting the facts about saddle fit in a straightforward manner that gives you loads of tips that you can act on.
We find some saddle fitters make it so overly complicated that you feel overwhelmed. Harman makes it accessible. The DVD covers western saddles specifically and illustrates how to determine correct fit with a variety of different horses and saddles. Harman's DVD is our #1 choice for a saddle fit resource. The book covers both English and Western saddles and is a nice companion to the DVD.
The "Western Horse's Pain-Free Back and Saddle Fit Book" is about to be released, and we're confident it will be a great addition to the series.
Author: Russell H. Beatie
Summary: This is the most comprehensive of all western saddle books. It's the bible. You'll find it in the bibliographies of almost every saddle book published since its publication in 1981. Beatie walks you through in detail both the western saddle's history and its parts and construction.
Saddle Savvy: A Guide To The Western Saddle
Author: Dusty Johnson
Summary: Second only to Beatie's Saddles as a western saddle reference. Dusty Johnson is a saddlemaker and he talks to you from years of experience about what works and what doesn't. Packed with information.
Saddlemaking: Construction and Repair Techniques
If you're interested in how saddles are built and repaired, and maybe even thinking about giving it a try yourself, then this is a must have book. Dusty Johnson is a master saddlemaker and has his own saddlemaking school, Pleasant Valley Saddle School.
Saddles Of The West
Author: David Stoecklein
Summary: Stoecklein's books are always gorgeous and this one's no exception. You can just feel how much Stoecklein loves the whole western lifestyle and everything that goes with it. Wonderful photographs of both vintage saddles and saddles of some of today's most accomplished saddle makers. If you love this book, you'll want to check out all of Stoecklein's books. It's hard to stop with just one.
The Art Of The Western Saddle: A Celebration of Style and Embellishment
Author: Bill Reynolds
Summary: A gorgeous "coffee table" book that provides wonderful photos and a great commentary on the development of the western saddle as a work of art. A must have for any serious fan of western saddles.
Tools Of The Cowboy Trade: Today's Crafters of Saddles, Bits, Spurs and Trappings
Author: Casey Beard, Dick Degabriela
Summary: Wonderful photos and descriptions of the craft of saddle making. Nice addition to a collection. Hard to find new, but some used editions available.
The Saddle Doctor's Repair Manual For Western Saddles
Author: Dick Orent
Summary: This very thorough book about saddle repair walks you through tools, material, and techniques for repairing all of the parts of the saddle, and even includes the steps for tearing down and rebuilding a saddle. If you're interested in learning about saddle repair, this is a great place to start. I haven't found this book available online, but you can order it direct for $19.99 (plus $3.50 S&H) from: Saddle Doctor, P.O. Box 6678, Omaha, NE 68108
King of the Western Saddle
Author: Timothey H. Evans
Summary: A wonderful book that traces the careeer of master saddlemaker and artist, Don King, and the evolution of the Sheridan Style of western saddlemaking. Lots of photos of Don King's gorgeous saddles and tooling.
Old Cowboy Saddles and Spurs
Author: Dan and Sebie Hutchins
Summary: This is a wonderful book for the collector or those just interested in vintage saddles and saddle history. Lots and lots of photos and illustrations of early saddles. It's where saddle geeks like me go to try to identify old saddles and saddlemakers.
Saddle and Western Gear Catalog, 1938
Author: Visalia Stock Saddle Co.
Summary: A reprint of an actual catalog from one of the major saddle companies, Visalia Stock Saddle Co. This is a real find. Filled with hundreds of illustrations and descriptions on a wide range of saddlery products.
How to Make Cowboy Horse Gear
Author: Bruce Grant
Summary: This is a handy little book for learning how to make gear out of rawhide - bosals, reins, curb straps, hobbles, hondas. Braiding and knots are also taught.
Leather Tooling & Carving
Author: Chris H. Groneman
Summary: A nice introduction to leather tooling and carving including information on the types of leather, tools and equipment, basic processes, and a number of projects. A good way to get started with leather tooling.
Military Saddles, 1812-1843
Author: Randy Steffen
Summary: A very comprehensive overview of military saddles used throughout the years with detailed illustrations. Covers the famous McClellan saddle and many more obscure models.
Tack Buyer's Guide
Author: Charlene Strickland
Summary: A solid all around general reference guide to horse tack. Covers both English and Western tack, including saddles, bridles, reins, halters, bits, blankets, grooming supplies, and barn equipment. If you're looking for an introduction to horse tack, this is a good choice.
Author: Ray Hunt
Summary: This is a very small and simple book, consisting of just photos and quotes from Ray. But what a gem of a book it is. Anyone familiar with Ray Hunt knows that his quotes are easy to read, yet can take a lifetime to truly understand. One of my favorites: "I don't ride my saddle, I ride my horse."