In the last decade or so, the equine industry has seen a great rise in popularity of the lightweight trail saddle. Many of us scoffed at these saddles when they first arrived on the market because, at that time, lightweight and quality did not really go hand in hand. However, since the early 2000's, technological advances in the trees and overall design of these saddles has greatly improved. In fact, in my opinion, these saddles are the biggest thing to happen to this industry in the last 75 years.
I have sold saddles of all kinds for well over 30 years. In that time, I have seen a great many makes and models of lightweight saddles; some good, some not so good. So when I decided to add lightweight trail saddles to our line, I was sure to choose only well-respected saddle makers whose saddles I thought offered the most bang for the buck for both horse and rider. Currently, I feel that McCall saddles are one of the best-made saddles out there; they do not sacrifice a bit of quality to eliminate weight. Weighing less than 25 pounds, the McCall McLite saddles are incredibly comfortable and one of the few lightweight saddles we recommend to people that might want to pack heavy saddle panniers or haul out heavy game. If this sounds like an advertisement, it kind of is. I love these saddles.
The McCall McLite Tree
The McCall McLite Tree is made in the USA from a proprietary combination of fiberglass and high-tech synthetics, and has been thoroughly tested for strength and overall fit. There is no better synthetic tree out there if you are dragging an elk out of the backcountry or ponying a stubborn mule that knows how to pull hard. I am also very happy with the fit of these trees; I have had good luck fitting most average riding horses and mules. All of the McLite saddle trees come with 6½" gullet and Quarter Horse bars. The bars have average rock from front to back (ie, not flat as an old mule bar or heavily curved as for gaited horses). From there, you have your option of a Wade (large horn, narrow twist and swells) or an All-Around trail saddle (standard horn and association-type swells).
My experience with McCall trail and ranch saddles
Outfitters Supply has sold saddles from McCall saddlery off and on for years. McLite Trail saddle has been a terrific saddle for women, younger riders, riders with back or shoulder problems and anyone else who has a difficult time saddling a horse with a heavy saddle. Its overall design and moderately deep seat design make it an excellent all-around western saddle for trail, pleasure and basic ranch work. Although it may not be scientific, as a saddle retailer, I think one way to tell the quality of a saddle is to count how many of those saddles come back as trade-ins. In all my years of selling McCall saddles, I can count on one hand the number of that have come back in on trade. These saddles really hold their value and their owners don’t let them go.
Why else should you buy a McCall Saddle?
McCall Saddlery has been making trail riding saddles for a very long time. They are a small operation and still build and tool all their saddles by hand. The primary saddlemakers at McCall have over 100 years experience between them! They only use the highest quality materials, from the leather to the hardware, and build one of the nicest seats around (no bumps and ridges!). McCall also offers one of the best warranties in the business: not just the tree, but also all materials and workmanship are guaranteed for five years of normal use.
There is no longer any reason to think that for a saddle to be good quality, it has to weigh 40+ pounds, nor should it ruin your day to saddle your horse. I truly feel that for our typical backcountry-riding customer, McCall McLite trail saddles offer the customer an exceptionally well-made, well-fitting, and comfortable saddle. We are constantly getting more of these saddles in, so keep checking our current inventory or call us to inquire about what is in production. We are also happy to work with you on customizing any of the McCall saddles if you would like something different than we are stocking.A
So you can have it all in a trail saddle!