Do you love to compete in roping? If you answered ‘yes,’ you’re likely always looking for ways to ride better and rope faster. Well, you came to the right place — because today, we’re going to share a few of our favorite Dakota saddle reviews.
You must invest in a quality saddle to be the best roper and rider. The truth is, you can’t do much better than a Dakota roping saddle. They’ve got plenty of experience, producing some of the finest saddles known to the equestrian.
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 regarding 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, this stuff won’t flex an inch and, therefore, can’t be broken in.
An appalling part about cheap saddles like this is that the bottom part that’s supposed to be high-quality leather is 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 has 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, 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 is that your horse will suffer the most. Cheap saddles like these often fit so poorly that throwing them on your horse’s shoulders isn’t worth the risk.
- Hardware – Are you beginning to see a trend? As you guessed, imported saddles are usually manufactured using the least expensive hardware. This junk will rust out faster than you can rope a bale of hay.
Fleece – You have to have quality fleece under your saddle. You’ll get the thinnest and cheapest if you go with a cheap import. Do your horse a favor and avoid the cheap stuff at all costs.
Our Favorite Dakota Saddles in 2022
Now we can start looking at some saddles 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, which 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 try the Dakota Western 2212. 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 genuinely breathtaking craftsmanship. One of the best parts about this one is that it takes no time to break 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 need a comfortable saddle for your short-back horse, the Dakota Flex Tree 213 will fit your needs nicely.
You’ll 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 will surely give you and your horse a great ride.
You’ll find the weight 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 fits 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
This affordable saddle will give you the edge you’ve been looking for in all the barrel racers. 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 more freely, 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 have.
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 want to try them.
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 steeds.
As discussed in the open, Dakota uses some of the best materials to construct their saddles. You won’t find cheap fleece or synthetic trees here. They pride themselves on delivering a safe and quality ride for 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.
You must choose a pad that matches your horse’s contours. This will prevent unnecessary pressure on your horse’s spine and withers. Your horse will certainly appreciate you taking the time to ensure the pad is made with its body in mind.
You must 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.
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 its shoulders. Always place the saddle behind the shoulder blades.
- I keep seeing FTBS. What is that?
This is simply the molding form that gives a saddle its fit on your horse’s back. When molds are laid on the back of your horse, you’ll be able to see if it’s going to fit properly.
We hope you found our guide on Dakota saddles to be enlightening and informative. 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 the one 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.