Safety First, Saddle Check!

If you sit down and think about it, what we do with our horses is somewhat dangerous and wild to begin with. Horses are powerful animals and we saddle them up to train and compete on daily. It sometimes is easy to forget, but it is very important to keep ourselves and our mounts safe by making it a habit to double check equipment and tack before each and every ride. Before you step up into the stirrup and swing your leg over your horse, make sure your saddling routine includes a daily check up on your gear.

Blevins Buckles

The blevins buckles on the fenders of your saddle are designed to be easy to adjust, but they can become loose over time, especially if you change your stirrup length often. Check to make sure the buckles are completely closed and snug. If the sliding component is loose, tighten it by squeezing both hands against it, or use a pair of vice grips to gently smash down and increase the tension on the slider. If you leave the blevins loose, they could slide up or fall off easily. Also, if they are not tight, it will cause unnecessary pressure on the fender holes, causing them to stretch out. A secure blevins buckle protects the integrity of your hole adjustment.  Its good practice to glance at your hole adjustments you use most & make sure they are not stretched out, the blevins are snug, and it will ensure a long happy life for your fenders.

If these blevin-babies aren’t in their proper place, you could find yourself in the dirt.

Blevins buckles are at their best when they fit close and very snug. Squeeze the sliding cover to flatten and increase tightness.


Another thing in the same area of your saddle are the stirrups – they have a rod/bolt and 2 nuts at the top of them. This is where your body weight is supported.  Double check that the bolts in both stirrups are straight and the nuts are tight!

Chicago Screws

The Chicago screws on headstalls are tiny but mighty, and possibly the easiest to overlook. Unless your horse is trained for bridle-less riding, you don’t want to lose a single one of these. Check to make sure loops and Chicago screws on your headstalls are secure before every ride.

Popular Pro-tip: If you can, go buy a small bottle of “Locktite”, it will keep the screws tight and secure, but still changeable. If you do not have Locktite, you can use a drop of clear fingernail polish inside the screw for added security. Be cautious with the nail lacquer if you plan on changing bits very often, it’s not designed to come off without chemical assistance.

Latigos & Flank Billets

Pronounced Latties, Lat-ee-gos, Ladda-gos, or Lat-i-goooo, named for the type of leather it is made from.  However you say it, they should be replaced EVERY YEAR. It’s cheaper than medical bills and an increase in premiums due to an accident. The best way to do this would be to purchase a high quality latigo leather 1-3/4″ x 6’6″ latigo, which is for the cinch side, along with 1-3/4″ single or doubled and stitched offside latigo.

Ropers, Cutters, Ranch use: Use a single ply off-side latigo, looped through the cinch first and then doubled up through the saddle rigging and back to through the cinch.

Correct Attachment
Correct application of a single-ply off-side billet, looped through the cinch first, doubled and run through the saddle rig, then back down through the cinch to secure.
Wrong way to apply an off-side latigo
Incorrect application of an off-side latigo. This can be extremely dangerous. This incorrect application could cause serious bodily injury to you or your horse.

Speed events and performance:
You can use a doubled & stitched latigo or single ply off-side latigo, looped through cinch and doubled up through the saddle rigging and back through the cinch.

We recommend both the cinch side and offside latigos be tied by a professional, someone who specializes in leather work or has experience, or be instructed by a professional or try your google. An incorrectly tied latigo is extremely as dangerous and as devastating as having a latigo break. Annual latigo replacement is one of the best insurance policies for you and your horse.

Incorrect and very dangerous
IMG_9524 copy
Replace ties or latigos once a year to prevent breaking
Double check your ties haven’t worked loose over time
Correct leather lacing method
Correct way to secure a double stitch off-side latigo
Correct leather lacing method
Correct underside view


On all latigos, and flank cinches, the center break, over fold, where the leather attaches to your saddle will oxidize against the metal rigging and becomes fatigued, making it prone to breakdown. Along with checking the latigo ties, check the condition of the leather underneath it’s break-over point in all four metal d-rig or c-rig locations of your saddle.


Flank Billets or back billets don’t wear as fast, therefore do not usually need to be replaced as often, but should still be checked at every saddle session.

Flank Hobble

Make sure your flank hobble (the little, unassuming buckle strap that holds the back cinch to the front cinch) is always in working order. It comes in contact with a lot of heat and sweat which causes them to break down. If this piece of equipment breaks you could find yourself unintentionally entered in the bronc riding. Martin saddlery, Flank Hobbles are made from biothane, as it has no stretch and is most resistant to horse sweat and heat.

Your saddle takes a lot of abuse on a daily basis, so remember to check everything on your saddle every day. Make safety part of your routine by being aware of the condition of all your saddle’s parts.

Of course, these are just a few safety tips to think about as you go about your day at the barn… but they are no little things when it comes to safety on a horse.

Arson & Sherry Cervi
Keep Your Ride Fun & Safe!

Saddle Care? Things to Consider

Unfortunately, nothing stays new forever, especially something used as often as your favorite saddle you throw on your horse everyday. Proper maintenance will exponentially extend a saddle’s lifespan. At Martin Saddlery, we understand that your saddle is an investment, and one you plan to use for many years. So we rounded up some important tips to help keep your investment in great cosmetic and working condition.

Most parts of the country have one thing in common when it comes to summer… Dust!

The three main elements which can cause the most wear and premature aging are dust, the salt element in horse sweat, plus heat. Each element on their own can prove taxing on leather. However, it is the combination of the three that will cause the most damage the quickest. Dust, horse sweat, and heat combined is a mixture that will physically begin to break down leather. Heat from the sun, plus the salty nature of horse sweat causes moisture in the leather to evaporate, making it brittle and weak. Regular dusting and storing your saddle out of direct sunlight will help maintain the leather’s moisture. And giving your saddle a good wipe down after a hard work-out to take off any excess horse sweat is always good practice.


It is important to stress dusting, this should be your primary focus of routine saddle care.  You can use a soft bristle brush or an air compressor to remove dust and dirt from within the tooling patterns and hard to reach places. An air compressor works fantastic in removing grit from rough-out and suede, without damaging the texture.

Dirt can bury deep into the tooling which causes premature aging and a faded look.

Important Rule:
If you can’t put the product on human skin, don’t put it on your saddle!

We recommend olive oil or a light cream conditioner to add moisture back to your saddle. Remember to always dust your saddle immediately before applying any products such as saddle soap or oil. If the product is very greasy be cautious, apply sparingly and always wipe off any excess. Soaking a saddle in oil can be worse than not oiling at all. A good way to check if you have applied too much is if the leather looks greasy or feels like deep fried chicken. Ease up on the calories if you see this happening.

Remember moderation is the key when conditioning your saddle.

Also, be sure the hidden parts of your saddle, such as the underside of the swells and fenders, are getting attention as well.  Do not oil suede seats. Only if a saddle’s rough-out is extremely dry, should you apply a very minimal light coat on the texture itself.  Any rough-out on your saddle should be oiled very sparingly depending on its condition. If you are unsure consult a professional.

Please note sunlight and oil will naturally start to darken a saddle. So if you are head over spurs for your saddle’s light leather look, you will need to prepare yourself for this possibility when beginning a treatment regime.

Martin makes Oil Pad Woolskins or “Leather Care Pads“, package of 4 for $10.99. Available through any Martin or Classic Equine retailer.

A regularly used saddle will need to be oiled more often than a saddle not in regular use. However, dusting your saddle should be a priority no matter how often it is used or where it is stored. Trainers who ride long days in the heat and use their saddle on several sweaty horses will need to wipe down and oil their saddle more often compared to a part-time competitor or recreational rider who may ride only in the cooler evenings and only on a few horses.

With just a little TLC, your investment will look great and hold up for many years.

Lightly oil on occasion.
Ride often.

Martin Saddlery



Matt Gaines and Second Spot take First

Video credit: Cutting Horse Training Online

If you keep up with cutting, then the name Matt Gaines rings familiarity. At the 2016 Jerry’s Chevrolet NCHA Futurity, his name was announced as the champion. Gaines and Second Spot won the Futurity, a first for Gaines. From 1990 to present, Gaines has a long list of achievements including the Non-Pro NCHA Futurity, the NCHA Derby Championship, the Superstakes (twice), and the memorable 2015 record breaking season on Special Nu Baby. The coveted Futurity championship was the missing piece to the puzzle.

Second Spot is owned by Gary and Shannon Barker and is by Spots Hot out of Reycy Moon. In the first round, Gaines and Second Spot marked a 220.5. The second round they marked a 219, and they won the semi finals with a 225. But the cherry on top was in the finals the team marked a 229, this is tied for the second highest score in NCHA history only behind the record of 230 set in 2010 by One Time Royalty.

This win edges Gaines even closer to the lucrative $8M earnings mark. We asked him a few questions about this mare and his program.

 The past two years you have won on two mares owned by the Barker’s, what do you think makes this such a winning partnership?

Matt: I’ve worked with the Barker’s for several years off and on and a couple years ago we teamed back up because they wanted to show their mare, Special Nu Baby, to see if she could get enough won to get into the Hall of Fame. I had shown her when she was young and as it turned out we had a great season. They raise good horses and they let me do my job and run my program and it has worked out to be a great deal.

At what point did you know Second Spot had a chance to be a winner?

Matt: That’s hard to say. Obviously she is talented, she has always been a big stopper and is cowy. But there were things about her that worried me, especially her consistency. There is a lot of unanswered questions about them until you go show them. A week before the futurity she started getting more and more consistent and it just all came together at the show.

What do you think is vital for success in your program?

Matt: It’s hard to narrow it down but I would have to say consistency and simplicity. There is so much that goes into it. You have to be disciplined yourself to work them everyday and give them the best consistent care to keep them at their best. You need to be on a routine as well as them. I believe that this gives them the confidence they need to succeed.

We are proud to have worked with Matt for over a decade and he has helped and tested our cutting saddle to help make it the product it is today. His achievements are a testament to his adamant work ethic and we look forward to what he achieves next.


For contact:

Hannah Haugen, Public Relations Coordinator







BTR- Balance, Timing, Rhythm

A refined saddle designed to give the rider security without restriction

Martin Saddlery is proud to announce the release of the newest design of barrel saddle, the BTR Racer. BTR stands for balance, timing, and rhythm – named for the results achieved with the innovative saddle’s features. With streamlined, forward fenders that move freely and a flatter seat, the rider is able to adjust quickly from the drop to acceleration. This saddle allows you to stay in the correct position to ride the back end of your horse, unphased in the turns and in the run.


The slimline saddle is available in petite square or round skirt and has removable billets and hoof pick holder. The fenders have Martin’s new “Short Twist,” a laceless twist that gives you extra comfort and control of your stirrups without extra bulk and includes a patent pending stirrup positioning rig slot (SPRS) which keeps your feet forward like no other saddle. A rear pocketed seat and a 4 1/2″ cantle combine with a narrow ground seat through the front to give you a comfortable, secure place to stay.

2X BFA Futurity and Juvenile Champion Jolene Montgomery in the new Martin BTR

 Ask about the Martin BTR at your local Martin Saddlery retailer!

btr candid

BTR Racer Saddle Specs

Standard Gullet Width 6.75”
Gullet widths also available 6.5”, 7”
Gullet Height 8.5”
Cantle Height 4.5”
Finished Horn Height 3”
Finished Horn Cap 2”
Available Tree Sizes 12.5”, 13”, 13.5”, 14”, 14.5”, 15”, 15.5”

C-Rig Only

Not Only a Saddle, A Work of Art

When you make the conscious decision to choose a Martin Saddle you may not realize you aren’t just getting a saddle, you are getting an artisan, unique piece of craftsmanship.

In a world of conformity, Martin Saddles are made the “old-fashioned way” with skilled craftsman who tool each saddle by hand. The amount of time and attention paid to each saddle is unprecedented.

Yulianna- Martin wp
Martin Craftsman Yulianna with her beautiful, custom created saddle she single handily cut, designed and tooled.

Fit, function, and value is at the heart of every saddle made. Martin Saddlery manufactures their own trees to the highest quality and comfort. Each Martin Saddle is cut from the same hides of leather to instill consistency and quality of the leather. The goal for each tree and saddle is to provide the horse full, even contact thus creating comfort for the rider.

Martin1- WPMartin is proud to have our products made from start to finish in the United States. Quality checks are at every corner and we believe that this process produces one of the most competitive products on the market, making us, The Company that Cowboys Keep. 

A Finished Saddle is Only as Good as the Tree

Since 1998, Martin Saddlery has been at the forefront of saddle development. After extensive research and observation, Martin designed a revolutionary tree that has elevated the quality of finished product. We all love a beautiful tooled saddle with shiny conchos, but the real quality of a saddle is what is found inside.

Our goal is to allow more fluid movement of the horse while performing. The last thing we want is for the saddle to get in the way of a horse’s ability to perform, or to put pressure on the muscles to cause discomfort or atrophy. The design of the tree has added thickness to the bar for an even amount of contact. The points of the saddle are flared up and away from the horses back specifically for room to fluidly move and get into their stop. This revolutionary design has proven successful in several disciplines and we are working all the time to improve and stay at the forefront of the ever changing and improving horse industry.