Are you a horse enthusiast? They are beautiful animals, but horseback riding hasn’t always just been a leisure activity or a means of transport.

People also use horses for work, usually in agriculture. Whatever purpose you have for buying a new saddle, you will likely want to get the best one available for your horse.

There are so many different types of saddles available on the market today, which may confuse you. How can you decide which one you need?

If you’ve narrowed down your options to a ranch vs. roping saddle, read our guide to make sure you understand the differences.

Common Types of Saddles

Different types of saddles are designed to fit specific circumstances and events that your horse may be a part of.

The most versatile type is the all-around saddle, which can be used for numerous tasks. There are also barrel saddles, mounted shooting saddles, the trail ones, the cutting type, and more.

In this article, we will compare ranch and roping saddles.

Ranch Saddle

The name of this type of saddle is almost self-explanatory. It’s the most common choice of ranchers and cowboys.

These saddles are made of leather and are usually massive and weighty. Since they’re not used for leisure but for ranch work, they’re also durable and sturdy, but not as flexible as some other types. They have a comfortable seat – necessary for ranchers who spend all day working.

That’s why they’re also highly functional and feature various elements that make a cowboy’s work easier. For example, comfort is provided by the deep seat and a high cantle. It offers good support for the rancher and helps them get on and off the horse more easily.

Besides comfort, this type of seat also gives security to the rancher, extremely important for any ranch work involving horse galloping. The structure of the seat will keep the rider safely in place. And what keeps the saddle safe on the horse’s back is the double rigging, also typical of this type of saddles.

You’ll also notice that ranch saddles have horn wraps, which can help in dallying and roping.

Hard ranch work may be the only reason you’d need such a heavy saddle. Suppose you plan to ride your horse on different occasions that won’t include speeding or riding for long hours. In that case, you can consider a smaller saddle, such as the trail or barrel seat.

To summarize, you should opt for the ranch saddle if:

  • You’re planning on riding long hours, and you want a comfortable seat
  • You’re working on a ranch, and you need to feel secure on your horse
  • Your activities include dallying or roping

Roping Saddle

Roping saddles are another sturdy type of saddles. Since people typically use them in roping events, they need to be able to withstand lots of movement while keeping the rider secure in his seat and the saddle tight on the horse’s back. It’s also essential that the saddle’s structure handles the cow’s weight without causing too much distress for the horse.

And what does a roping saddle look like?

Just like a ranch saddle (and they do have plenty of similar features), it has a deep seat that provides balance and support for the rider. It needs to allow him to feel comfortable at the same time.

There’s usually a leather cover on these saddles because that improves the grip for the cowboy. Roping saddles are also double-rigged, which means they won’t just fall off following more intense movement.

However, these saddles have a low cantle, enabling the rider to quickly get off the horse after roping and dallying the cow. That’s one of the crucial differences between roping saddles and ranch saddles, which have a high cantle. Another is their structure – they are sturdier than ranch saddles. That means you shouldn’t use them to ride your horse for hours.

Some roping seats are also a bit narrower at the front to make standing easier for the rider since that happens a lot during a roping event. For this reason, roping saddles usually come with thicker fenders than usual. This way, a cowboy will feel more balanced and stable while standing.

Other types of saddles can also be used for roping. Those are, for instance, ranch or ranch cutting saddles or all-around saddles.

To sum things up, this type of saddle is quite specific, and you should go for it if your job includes roping and dallying, without the long hours of ranch work.

Which is Better?

It’s hard to tell which type of saddle is better since their purposes are all very different. Although some quality ranch saddles can also be used for roping, it’s better to use each model for its specific purpose.

Ranch saddles and roping saddles are both heavy and double-rigged because they need to provide a lot of stability to the rider. However, the low cantle and narrowed front make the roping saddles more suitable for roping, but its robust construction won’t feel comfortable if you try to ride them for too long.

On the other hand, ranch saddles wouldn’t feel balanced while the rider is standing, and their legs would need to be too wide apart, which would feel unpleasant. The high cantle wouldn’t allow you to jump off the horse quite as easily, either.

Your safe bet is to choose the seat designed precisely for what kind of work you need to get done. It’ll fulfill its role and feel great for both you and your horse.