Brazilian Barrel Racing Saddle Review

How getting a Brazilian made me ride better…Brazilian Barrel Saddle! (sorry guys, I couldn’t help myself)

When I bought my barrel horse I knew I was getting a mixed bag of tricks. Despite his lacking topline and emotional fitness he had some very appealing qualities. Second and third opinions from equine practioners said he’s the most symmetrical and balanced horse they’ve seen as well as being recognized as a horse with a lot of “talent and try”.  So my motives are to take simple yet intentional approach to maintaining and preserving this horse for future rides and world domination. I bet you guys can relate. A horse that has potential, but needs special attention to thrive.

A free swinging scapula is a sure fire sign that your horse's shoulder has freedom under the bars.

A free swinging scapula is a sure fire sign that your horse’s shoulder has freedom to move under the bars.

What led me to researching this obscure looking Brazilian Barrel Saddle  was the excessive weight of my current barrel saddle. Famed race horse jockey Chris McCaren makes mention of additional weight on the horse’s back affects the athleticism of the horse as well as health of the topline. (This isn’t to say my current barrel saddle is a problem or isn’t working for me still.) I also was intrigued by this saddle  because I knew that  a lighter load has many benefits.  This race track article notes, “Does the weight carried impact the outcome of a horse race? Yes and No. Yes because a horse carrying more weight will have to work harder compared to a horse with lower weight. No because there are so many things that happen from when the gates open to the first horse crosses the wire.”  In my future post  How to Improve Your Horse’s Top Line part 4 post I will talk about combining multiple components for success in the barrel pen – so subscribe so you don’t miss anything!

I decided to give the Brazilian Saddle a try because according to the description of what it does I think it’s a good tool to help my gelding maintain nicely. You know from previous posts we’ve only seen improvement and progress by: taking off the shoes, adding a slow feeder, administering cold laser therapy and providing herbs.  I haven’t necessarily had problems with my current saddle from Natural Horseman Saddles. In fact I love it all except for the hefty weight.  No doubt horses are incredibly strong and full of endurance. However, I don’t quite buy into the lie I was told in 4-H that “they hardly feel you on their back!”.  Track jockey’s have special saddles so why shouldn’t I? After all…I get a back ache when I carry my 30lb toddler around constantly. So anything I can do to ease my horse’s struggle and make sure he lasts for years of competition I will do!

Yes…it is obvious that this saddle isn’t the handy work of a custom saddle maker. But it does its job. It’s light. It fits me. It fits my horse.

A few other features that make it light are that most of the materials are synthetic. The tree isn’t plastic – so you don’t have to worry about that snapping in half. But the stirrups are, so don’t go banging them into the fence when you ride. You can easily twist and adjust the fenders to the perfect fit. They don’t constrict or rub in a terrible fashion. The seat is surprisingly good too. It’s a suede type feeling, so it allows you to have enough grab to be really secure. It also sat me perfectly on my ‘balance point’ I was not compromising an ideal riding position to force the saddle to work for me. The drop/flat-plate rigging style is also appealing, as it evenly compresses down on the horse’s back. The gullet was appropriate for my horse, and the bars/tree didn’t produce any painful pressure points.  The horn of the saddle is functional as well. Easy to grab in a turn. I also found the material to be weather resistant; riding in the freezing rain the other day. The underside is a felt type material, so it didn’t slip at all on my wool pad.

 

In this video I talk about my first impressions of the product and the hopes I have for it. But so far so good, I give this an ‘B+’.

What I’ve done so far to evaluate the function of this product:

Before I rode him in it to give him good work out I started by red lighting and stretching his topline points. I did this because I want a baseline to go from in the way he travels. Next,  I put the saddle on and evaluated the fit. I added the pad and cinched up, without any drama from the horse. Then, I let my horse explore the new fit at liberty.  After 10 minutes of getting a movement and fit evaluation in the round pen I rode him around for about 20 minutes. When I was finished riding I gave him once over to see if the pad had shifted, or the saddle had moved.  I took of the saddle, to check the wear and pressure on the pad. Then took the pad of carefully to evaluate sweat and pressure patterns. Lastly, I did a pinch test to observe any immediate pain caused from the saddle.

After one use I felt a big difference and my horse felt one too.  You guys!  This saddle weighs 12 freaking pounds. Once he got done yawning, he told me he appreciated my efforts.  Is it pretty? No. But it was completely functional and safe. Can horse’s gallop athletically in a 50lb roping saddle? Absolutely. But, would you rather wear an army back pack in the heat of the desert or a nylon string back pack? No brainer.  Again, this isn’t for fashion it’s for function and my hopes of his performance longevity, soundness, and athletic improvement.  He moved like a dream, and the next day…no soreness.

Gullet width is about 6 inches, concho to concho

Gullet width is about 6 inches, concho to concho

The bars seem to give ample room for shoulders and back

The bars seem to give ample room for shoulders and back

Comes with cinch, billet, and breast collar

Comes with cinch, billet, and breast collar

 

My overall first impression is that this barrel saddle is ugly – but if I’m going fast enough no one will notice what it looks like! Once I rode in it and made a run, I was generally impressed. It’s ‘barely there’ you might say. I am including some thoughts of important factors for future reference though.  This is not a saddle I will ride in daily – quality leather and synthetic light material isn’t a fair match. This is a jockey saddle quite honestly. The more comfortable a horse can be when being asked to run his guts out…the better. I would recommend checking the hardware and construction on this every time you use it to make sure nothing has come apart. I highly doubt it will last 30 years like a good hand-crafted traditional saddle. I would take great care not to set it on the horn (chipping) or leaving it in cold environment for long periods of time. (Synthetic materials aren’t weather resistant, it affects the integrity) If I can prevent injury with proper warm up, and I can lessen impact of force and weight-bearing then that’s beneficial enough for me. Money well spent for a functional product.

So I say give it a try – Get a ‘brazilian’…there’s no ride like it!

(Who else sits in a brazilian barrel saddle? Tiany Schuster, who is also sitting in the #1 spot of the WPRA at the moment. So if she has anything to show for it…This gal has believed in them from the beginning. “Every 10lbs in a 10tenth of a second..you do the math”.)

 

 

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