The smooth fork saddle (also known as an A-fork) gets its name from its fork form. The fork is the front saddle component of the saddle tree that connects the bars and serves as a base for the horn. Forks come in a variety of forms, but there are two primary types: swell fork and slick fork (or A-fork).
A slick fork saddle’s fork is usually only 8 to 10 inches broad, with the sides sloping straight up to the outside of the horn. This leaves the front of the saddle open, allowing for comfort on extended rides and mobility for ranch work. If the rider will be dealing with young horses or otherwise feels the need for extra security, bucking rolls, which resemble a swell, can be added.
The smooth fork saddle is a buckaroo tradition that was popular among working cowboys in California, Nevada, and western Montana until recently. This is an excellent functioning saddle. However, its popularity among the general riding public has recently increased. A resurgence of interest in the buckaroo heritage, as well as a number of high-profile horsemen using these traditional saddles, has elevated their profile. The Wade is the most common slick-fork tree style today. Slick forks are now being produced by a growing number of saddle manufacturers, as well as bespoke saddle makers.
Two examples of slick fork saddles (the second saddle has bucking rolls):