Padded Horse SaddlesUpholstered horse saddles
Upholstered vs. rigid seats
Everybody has an idea what it is like to feel pleasant on a pad. A few people like a cuddly upholstered chair to make their trip more enjoyable. A few like the other end of the extremes and don't want anything between their pushy and the floor sitting, but a bit of skirt sole in it.
My job as a handyman involves spending a lot of my life putting on bits of leathers and shaping and peeling each one to ensure the best possible equilibrium and feeling in each one of our saddles. And the last thing I want to do is to put a thick coat of artificial froth over my tough work that will totally alter the way the seat sits.
In most cases, the consumer has become used to seeing saddles of all kinds with padded sits. It has become the standard and therefore many people assess the riding experience based on the kind of cushioning instead of the floor seating experience that the bike has.... in fact many people have a restricted appreciation of what a floor chair is, even less what a correctly made floor chair is like.
When the floor is so important, why do so many vendors put padded seating on it? First, the floor saddles of many saddles produced do not receive much notice during the construction work. At times there is no kind of bench available and the equilibrium and haptics of the seating is up to the manufacturer of the trees... This rarely results in a seating that is suitable for the horsewoman.
This uses the padded chair to conceal the bad workmanship of the floor chair and hopefully creates a feeling that is good enough to bring the nut from the shelf into your boot before the cushioning collapses and you are abandoned with a badly fitting nut.
Second, why so many saddles have padded seatings is due to the more economic way in which producers trim and fit the definitive fit in their saddles. Seating a nut is the largest item of cowhide that is trimmed in the whole construction and therefore the most costly.
To reduce costs, the vast majority on the market have trimmed and installed a so-called "three-piece" or "split" chair. Essentially, instead of a large section, they slice two bench jockeys in the centre of the yoke seats (left and right), which they ski and stitch together, and then stitch the padded seats over the top of the joint, giving the final result the look of a full fit.
Again, the cushioning they use will cover the lap and any unevenness in which the two jockeys come together...at least until the cushioning collapses. Upholstered saddles definitely have a place in certain kinds of saddles and many makers have a great fit in their saddles despite the three-piece saddle.
Often we fit padded saddles in our saddles (although three-piece saddles are not permitted in our shop) if the client so wishes. The only problem I have with them is the fact that the saddle changes over the years because the upholstery collapses and something else has to be worn and replaced.
Because I work so much to ensure the best possible floor fit in my saddles, I use a very thin piece of cellular material that restricts the changes in my floor at first. A lot of people think that the more upholstery the seats have, the more convenient they will be for longer journeys. Heavy amounts of cushioning lift the horse out of the saddle into a standing posture instead of "sitting" in the pad for a more even riding experience.
When the floor fit is done properly, a tightly fitting nut is much more convenient and ensures consistent quality throughout the entire lifetime of the nut. When you want evidence of my mind, look at the saddles the full-time cowboys are riding on big farms where they drive from dawn to dusk... you won't see padded saddles in many of those saddles.
A cowboy sitting in a horse back all seven nights a week swears by it.