Roping saddles are designed to be used when roping a cow. Because roping is physically exerting on both the horse and rider, a roping saddle is designed to allow a rider plenty of freedom of movement. In a good roping saddle, a rider can rope and dally a cow, and can easily dismount to go to the cow.
A roping saddle needs to withstand the force of a cow against the rope which is dallied around the saddle horn. The saddle undergoes a tremendous amount of force with every cow roped, so roping saddles are built with very strong trees and saddle horns. Wooden trees are typically used, and some trees are covered for additional protection. The saddle horn is thick and tall, and is usually wrapped, and double rigging helps to keep the saddle securely in place.
The roping saddle is built to allow the rider the freedom of movement they need while roping, but it also provides the rider with support. The stirrups are usually positioned a bit forward so that the rider can bring their legs forward to brace themselves during sudden stops. The stirrups themselves are deep and wide for plenty of support.
A roping saddle features a deep seat, usually made with roughout leather for improved rider grip. The cantle of the saddle is lower, so the rider can easily swing out of the saddle after roping a cow.
Because of their durable build, roping saddles tend to be heavier than most other saddle types. They aren’t ideal for long hours of riding, and are more appropriate for roping activities only.
When buying a roping saddle, choose the best quality saddle that you can afford. A roping saddle is put under serious stress with every use, so if you plan to use the saddle regularly, you will want to buy the highest quality saddle possible.