Do you love to compete in roping? If you answered ‘yes’, you’re likely always on the lookout for ways to ride better and rope faster. Well, you came to the right place — because today we’re going to share with you a few of our favorite Dakota saddle reviews.
If you want to be the best roper and rider you can possibly be, it’s important that you invest in a quality saddle. The truth is, you can’t do much better than a Dakota roping saddle. They’ve got plenty of experience under their belt, producing some of the finest saddles known to the equestrian.
- Our Favorite Dakota Saddles in 2021
- #1) 15″ to 17″ Dakota Custom Haflinger Saddle
- #2) 15″ to 17″ Dakota Western Saddle, Flex Tree Trail Saddle
- #3) 15″ to 17″ Dakota Flex Tree Trail Saddle 213
- #4) 14″ to 16″ Dakota Barrel Racer 307
- #5) 15″ to 17″ Dakota Draft Horse Trail Saddle 214
- Why Choose Dakota Saddles?
- Things to Consider Before You Buy a Saddle Pad for Your Horse
- Final Words
Signs of a Low-Quality Saddle
Before we mosey on down to the reviews, let’s take a moment to discuss the things you’d do best to avoid in a saddle. This will help you make the best decision when it comes buying time. We want you to end up with the best saddle for your money. Following these guidelines will help you do just that.
- Imitation Leather – If you’re serious about riding in any capacity, this one is a big no-no. While it may look similar to the real deal, imitation leather is usually made of vinyl. If you know anything about vinyl, you know that this stuff won’t flex an inch and therefore can’t be broken in.
The most appalling part about cheap saddles like this is that the bottom part that’s supposed to be high-quality leather is actually paper. It should go without saying, but that imported saddle you just tried to save a few bucks on will wear out in no time flat.
- Bad Trees – It is paramount that your saddle have a strong, durable, and high-quality tree. The best saddles use wood as their base and wrap it in fine leather. Sadly, imported saddles often use a combination of fiberglass and Styrofoam. As you can imagine, this doesn’t last nearly as long as wood.
If you go this route, just know that you’re in for an uncomfortable ride. That synthetic nonsense will warp and bend on you, causing uneven – and possibly unsafe – riding conditions.
But the worst part about it is that your horse will suffer the most. Cheap saddles like these often fit so poorly that it isn’t worth the risk to throw on your horse’s shoulders.
- Hardware – Are you beginning to see a trend? As you guessed it, imported saddles are usually manufactured using the least expensive hardware available. This junk will rust out faster than you can rope a bale of hay.
Fleece – You have to have quality fleece under your saddle. If you go with a cheap import, you’re going to get the thinnest and cheapest. Do your horse a favor and avoid the cheap stuff at all costs.
Our Favorite Dakota Saddles in 2021
Now we can start looking at some saddles that are worthy of our time. Our Dakota barrel saddles reviews cover what we feel are some of the finest saddles for you and your animal. We know you want what’s best for your barrel horse. These Dakota roping saddles will make sure that’s possible.
#1) 15″ to 17″ Dakota Custom Haflinger Saddle
If you want the absolute best Dakota saddle for your Haflinger, look no further than the Dakota Custom 2214. It is an absolute beauty to behold and rides like a dream.
We loved the width and angle of the bars. It provides the perfect fit for Haflingers without compromising quality. Flat backs will appreciate the fine craftsmanship that Dakota poured into this saddle.
We even tried on our Haflinger that is traditionally very difficult to fit. To say it is perfect would be an understatement. If you own a Haflinger, you owe it to yourself and your equine pal.
- 15-inch to 17-inch
- 3.5-inch horn
- Weighs 28 pounds
- Stainless-steel rigging
#2) 15″ to 17″ Dakota Western Saddle, Flex Tree Trail Saddle
If comfort is what you’re after, you’d be wise to give the Dakota Western 2212 a try. It sports a flexible tree and fine, soft leather. The fit is absolute perfection, giving your horse a luxurious and comfy ride.
The design is stunning and features some truly breathtaking craftsmanship. One of the best parts about this one is that it takes no time at all to get broken in.
You can get extra padding if you like, but we found what comes with it is more than adequate. There was a little bit of loose threading that concerned us initially. However, it was an easy fix and hasn’t occurred since.
- 10-year tree warranty
- Weighs 28 pounds
- 2.5-inch stirrups
- 3.5-inch horn
#3) 15″ to 17″ Dakota Flex Tree Trail Saddle 213
If you’re in need of a comfortable saddle for your short-back horse, the Dakota Flex Tree 213 will fit your needs nicely.
You’ll begin to notice that these reviews are all about saddles that fit even the toughest of equines. The 213 is no different. This well-made and comfy saddle is sure to give both you and your horse a great ride.
You’ll find the weight to be just right, making it easier for you to take care of business. We tried this one out on a couple of different horses and it fit both like a dream. If you want a versatile and flexible saddle, give this one a spin.
- 3.5-inch leather horn
- Weighs 30 pounds
- All-leather build
- 2.5-inch easy-twist stirrups
#4) 14″ to 16″ Dakota Barrel Racer 307
For all the barrel racers out there, this affordable saddle will give you the edge you’ve been looking for. Even the most stubborn fits will find this barrel saddle to complement them nicely.
Many short-back horses have found the 307 to be the fit they’ve been looking for. We tried it out on one with no withers, and the fit was virtually perfect.
Built for agility and speed, the Dakota Barrel Racer 307 won’t break the bank and provides all the comfort you need.
You’ll be able to move with more freedom so you can cut down on your time. The rigging is high-quality brass that is sure to last a lifetime.
- 2.5-inch performance stirrups
- Weighs 27 pounds
- 3.5-inch horn
- 24-inch skirt
#5) 15″ to 17″ Dakota Draft Horse Trail Saddle 214
Draft horses can be a tough fit, but Dakota’s Trail Saddle 214 is in a league of its own. The sizing is just right to give your draft horse one of the best-fitting saddles they’ll ever had.
The comfort level is unmatched, with a sturdy wood tree and a grain-out leather seat. The best part about this high-quality draft horse saddle is its price. You’re getting superb materials and craftsmanship for a cost you can live with.
- Wooden tree
- 5-inch cantle
- Weighs 32 pounds
- 15-inch to 17-inch seat
Why Choose Dakota Saddles?
As some of the finest saddles you can buy, there has to be a reason Dakotas are so great, right? As you’ll soon learn, there are plenty of reasons why you’ll want to give them a try.
One of the best things about Dakota is that they give you plenty to work with. You can deck out your saddle just about any way you like it. If you’ve got a hard-to-fit horse, chances are Dakota saddles will let you adjust it for the perfect ride.
As you may have noticed, Dakota saddles are some of the finest and best-fitting saddles you can buy for your horse. Dakota is known for finding saddles that fit even the most stubborn of steeds.
As we discussed in the open, Dakota uses some of the best materials in the construction of their saddles. You won’t find cheap fleece or synthetic trees here. They pride themselves on delivering a safe and quality ride for both you and your equine.
Things to Consider Before You Buy a Saddle Pad for Your Horse
You always want to ensure that your horse has a quality layer of protection between them and the saddle. This section will help you know how to choose the right saddle pad.
It is vital that you choose a pad that matches your horse’s contours. This will prevent unnecessary pressure on your horse’s spine and/or withers. Your horse will certainly appreciate you taking the time to make sure the pad is made with their body in mind.
It is important that you ensure that the saddle pad conforms to the overall size of the actual saddle. Different pads have different cuts, so you’ll need to know beforehand what your saddle will be used for most often.
When shopping for saddle pads, you will typically come across three different types: half, square, and shaped. Dressage riders will most often go with square pads, while jumpers choose shaped.
Half pads can be used in a variety of applications. They are sometimes even combined with shaped or square pads.
Before we ride off into the sunset, we wanted to take a moment to discuss some of the most frequently asked questions about saddles.
- What kind of tree should I choose?
You always want the saddle to have a tree made of wood. As we discussed earlier, anything less can lead to an uncomfortable ride. Wood will last longer than synthetics, too.
- Where should I place the saddle?
Many riders have a bad habit of placing the saddle too high up the horse’s shoulders. This causes pain to your horse because it digs into their shoulders. Always place the saddle behind the shoulder blades.
- I keep seeing FTBS. What is that?
This is simply the molding form that is used to give a saddle its fit on your horse’s back. When molds are laid on the back of your horse, you’ll be able to plainly see if it’s going to fit properly.
We really hope you found our guide on Dakota saddles to be enlightening and informing. We want your horse to get the right care. And a lot of the time, that starts with a quality saddle on their backs.
Our guide on Dakota saddles is meant to point you in the right direction of a good saddle. Even if you don’t decide to go with one that we reviewed here, we hope that we have made it easier to help you choose the best saddle for your horse. Take care, and ride safely.