Bob Answers Our Most Often Asked Questions

(Not in any particular order)

1.  What thickness saddle pad should I buy?

7/8″ is the most popular thickness that we sell. It works best for all around use from trail riding to light/medium roping.

2.  What length lead rope do you suggest I use?

12 foot is the most popular length. It gives you enough length to work your horse in a round pen, pllus it gives you enough rope to tie up to trees if you are trail riding but not so much that it is hard to handle.

3.  What Double Diamond rope halter do you suggest?

We like the #124 Series halters by Double Diamond becuase of its softness. If you are working a horse from the ground or riding in a halter the horse gets an instant release of pressure when you want him to have it.

4.  Of the Jeremiah Watt (JWP) snaffles, which do you prefer, the blued or the stainless eggbutt?

A lot of folks believe the blued seet iron keeps a hores’ mouth moister than the stainesss. The stainless does have copper strips on the mouht piece just like the blued one. We sell about 3 of the blued to 1 of the stainless, but that could be because they are $30 less.

5.  Do any of the JWP snaffles com e in a larger size that 5 inches?

Yes!  Only the blued eggbutt and the stainless eggbutt are 5 inches.  All the rest come in 5 1/4″.

6.  On you stainless Monel stirrups what is the most popular tread width?

Most women ride either the 4″ or 5″ and most men seem to ride the 5″ or 6″ treads.

7.  How wide are your Monel stirrups?

The standard Nettles stirrup is 5 3/8″ wide on the inside. This is a laminated oak blank that Trince Webber covers for us in Nappa Idaho. The problem is that we line the inside of the stirrup with leather and that custs the width down to 5″. Now most women can get by with this width until they start riding in the winter and go to a heavier boot. Then it may be too narrow.  Men, on the other hand, are bigger, heavier and have larger feet, length and width. Not all, but most men ride stirrups that are too narrow for them. Theis wedges their foot in the stirrup.  This problem is so easy to solve, becuase our stirrups in in Rugular width, oversize width and overshoe width. So regardless of the timeof year or the size of your foot you can ride a stirrup that doesn’t put you in dnager of getting hug upon a horse. Getting hung up on a horse would have to be one of the top two most dnagerous things that can happen with you and your horse.

8.  Is it necessary to cary a $46.00 custom made hoof pick when you are trail riding?

Yes! Several years back I was riding in a rocky area and picked up a sharp rock that wedged inside the shoe on my horse’s right front. I noticed it after he took about 3 steps so I stopped and got a cheap hoof pick out of my saddle bags. The cheap hoof pick was poorly designed and was made for cleaning dirt out of a horse’s foot. I was a professional Ferrier for 10 years and I could not pry the rock loose the the cheap hoof pick. To make a long story short, I lead my horse back tot he trailer which was about 3 1/2 miles away, down hill and by the time I got there he was hopping on 3 legs. When I got hime home I got a good hoof pick out of my shoeing box and with a little bit of work I was finally able to get the rock out.  He was stone bruiesed real bad and of course he got a severe absess. The vet had to carve through his sole to relieve it.  As it turned out is was 2 1/2 to 3 months before he was sound to ride again and it could have all been avoided if I would have had a properly designed, strong, hoof pick.

9. What mouth pieces on the JWP Arena Classic Bits come with a roller or cricket. 

The #5 Mona Lisa, #16, San Joaquin, #17 Half Breed, #19 Salinas Hooded Port, #21 El Segundo and all of the spade mouth pieces.

10. Who makes my saddle trees?

I have been using Sonny Felcons from Quality Manufacturing, which use to be called Superior Saddle Trees for 31 years. Knock on wood, I have never had a broken tree or a tree that sored a horse in all that time. His rawhide work is the best out there. The seams are pounded flat which makes my job much easier. I only build 58 Wades and he has 3 different bars that will work on the 58 so he can fit most any horse or mule that I need to build for.

11. Do you build mule saddles?  

I build saddles that fit a particular tyle and shape of horse or mule. Just because a saddle has mule bars under it, or it has a Britchen hooked to it, doesn’t make it a mule saddle.  There are horses with mule back and mules with horse backs.  I rode saddle mules for quite a few years in the back country and I’ve built quite a few saddles for mules and probably clost to 50% of the saddles I have built for mules had horse bars under the tree.

12.  What brand of leather do you use on your saddles and accessories?

The only brand of leather I have ever used is Herman Oak from Saint Louis, Missouri.  We use different weights from 5 oz up to leveled 12 oz for our saddles.

13. Do you guarantee your saddles?

Bitterroot Saddle Co. guarantees the leather, hardware and craftsmanship of all our saddles. That’s it. We don’t guarantee against breakage becaise saddles don’t just break on their own. If equipment is used properly and put on a sound minded horse or mule, they won’t break. If a horse rears over backwards and break a tree, that cannot possibly be the saddle maker’s fault.

14. What is the average weight of your saddles?

Our full covered custom saddles run arouond 34 pounds and the Bitterroot Mountain Saddle runs about 28 lbs.

15. How long does it take you to make a saddle?

I am much slower than most slower than most saddle makers are. I am VERY particular on leather quality and craftsmanship so it takes me about 4 weeks on our full covered saddles and about 3 weeks on our mountain saddles.  (Webmaster’s note: Bob is a perfectionist when it comes to his saddles. I have never seen anyone as picky about the quality of his work as Bob is.)

16. How long have you been building saddles?

I opened my first shop in 1984 and was running it part time because he was doing his apprenticeship Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm and then shoeing horses until dark. I started running his own shop full time in 1986. I was in Oregon at the time. I moved back to Montana in 1991 and have been running Bitterroot Saddle Co seven days a week since.

17.  How much is the material cost on a custom saddle?

At the present time (3/2/15) we have a little over $1400 in materials in every saddle and the cost just keeps going up. We experienced 3 price increases in leather last year alone.

18.  Do you ever have used saddles for sale?

We never personally have used saddles because we just build new saddles as they are ordered and have our online store. I do have an apprentice that has a store in downtown Hamilton, Mt and she will come accross one every once in awhile. Most of the folks that are selling are retiring from horses and they end up selling to one of their friends, but they do show up every once in awhile.

19.  How do I know that my saddle is a true Bitterroot Saddle Co. Saddle?

Kind of a funny questions, but over the past 4 to 5 years I have been contacted by people that thought they had one of my saddles and as it turned out it was just forged paperwok on someone’s unmarked saddle.  They have all been from down south, Texas through to Florida.  I place a makers’ stamp on the latigo keepers and on the tail piece. If you don’t see that stamp, it’s not mine.

20.  Do you ever teach anyone to build saddles?

Yes, I do.  In the past 20 years I’ve tought 3 people to build saddles. The first guy was a really good holster maker already so he was very easy to teach, but saddles were just too big of a project for him so he went back to holsters. The second person was a 34 year old gal and for the past 4 years she has had a real nice shop in Hamilton, MT and is building saddles and running her store.  The third guy was the Natural Horsemanship trainer I have been building saddles for the past 10 years. We’re going to do one more saddle together this Spring and then he will open his own shop and build for his customers himself. In the future I would like to create a video series on how to build wade tree saddles.

21.  I accidently put too many items into my shopping cart. How do I remove them?

When you first place something into your cart, a pop-up window will appear.  At this point you will be able to edit or remove items by clicking on the words ‘View or Edit Your Cart.’

Or, you can go to the top right-hand side of the website and click on ‘View Cart.’  This will take you to your shopping cart where you can change quantities or click on the ‘x’ to completely remove an item.