A Charro saddle tree
Earlier this fall we built a Charro tree, named because this is the style ridden by traditional Mexican horsemen, or Charros. In our research we found that there is a lot of variety in the traditional Charro saddles. This makes sense because according to Frederic Remington, a writer from the late 1800s who rode with the Mexican riders of the day, they only ordered the iron rings and then made their own trees and saddles. So when we see pictures of the old Charro saddles, there are some that have extremely wide forks and some that are actually slick forks. This means that there is no single style that is “the traditional Charro saddle tree”.
In this case the customer sent us a modern tree from Mexico, asking if we would make something that looked similar but that would fit today’s horses and have a comfortable seat for the rider. So the bars and the fit were done the same as normal. It was just figuring out that fork and cantle…
The thing that is consistent on Charro trees is a very large wooden horn with a lot of pitch to it. Going off the design the customer sent us, the finished horn cap measured 7 ¼”. As they were often decorated around the edge of the horn cap, we made the edge an inch thick.
The fork was set at our normal stood up angle. It still has a slight pitch forward, but not a lot. The rigging on these saddles go through the gullet and come down on the front and back of the fork with the rigging ring below the swell on the fork. Rod shaped the fork so that the rigging would be set at a full position and not fall ahead of full.
The fork, patterned on the tree the customer sent us, was 16 ¾” wide and rather fun to shape. The Baltic Birch plywood made it look very pretty.
Some Charro trees have cantle slots. Some don’t. The customer wanted them on this tree. The extra thick edge on the cantle, as on all Charro trees, is an advantage when it comes to the strength of the wood above the slots.
This was a really fun tree to build. As always when we do something unusual, there are things we would do differently next time. But overall we were really happy with it and so was the customer. He has promised us pictures of it when he has it finished and if he gives us permission, we will post them here too. We’re looking forward to seeing them!
For sure. The top and the bottom of any tree can be made so they are independant of each other, meaning any style of fork and cantle can be made to fit any type of equine.
Thanks so much,
Our customer has never sent us pictures of it finished, so we don't know what it looked like either. I sure would like to see them someday though!
The horse I'm riding is a short-backed mustang. What measurements do you need to ensure proper fit?
I am currently riding a Wade which tends to slide up the withers on the downhill.
I've sent you an e-mail. We have a page on Measuring Horses for Fit if you want to go the ideal route of letting us know exactly what your horse's shape is. http://www.rodnikkel.com/content/index.php/tree-and-saddle-fitting/measuring-horses-for-fit/ Then we know his body type and can fit that.
For short backed horses we also like to get a shoulder to hip measurement which helps us figure out the maximum bar length that would be good for this horse: http://www.rodnikkel.com/content/index.php/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/taking-the-shoulder-to-hip-measurement/
E-mail sent with specifics.
Thanks for the compliment on our trees. The price of the trees will vary depending on fork width, cantle slots, etc. We will e-mail you with prices. However, our normal trees are $600 Canadian at the moment and these are more.
Our charro trees are built with a seat like the rest of our trees, which make it easy for the saddle maker to put in a comfortable seat for the rider. That shape is comfortable to ride with the minimal leather covering on a normal charro style saddle. The charro trees from Mexico which we have seen have a very wide and flat seat which would not be very comfortable to ride.
Our trees can also be made to fit different sizes and shapes of horses. How much variation is available in the traditional trees and how well they fit today's horses is something someone who uses them is better able to answer than we are.
We only build the trees, not the saddles. But we can give you a name or two to try. An e-mail has been sent to you.
I'm very interested in the Charro saddle but like others, I can't find what I want...do you build the trees and the saddles as well? If do, I'm very interested in talking to you. Please email me. Thnx.