Instructions for using templates with Western trees and saddles
Click on any picture or link to see a large-sized image.

First we'll look at how to compare templates to a bare tree. (In the next pages we will look at a complete saddle.)

You should have 5 "wither tracing" type templates, and 1 long "rocker" template. You'll also need a piece of chalk.

Turn the tree upside down and find the burr (round area at the front of the bars). Outline the burr in chalk.

Put an X in the middle.

The rocker strip is placed longwise on the bars. This template is a measurement down the horse's back, from the shoulderblade toward the hip. The measurement is taken along the muscle itself, not along the "topline."

Compare the long rocker strip to the rocker on the bars.

Match up the * on the rocker sheet with the X chalked onto the burr. The rocker should be held so that it goes down the middle of the bar.

For a good fit, the rocker should sit against the bar all the way down. There should be no empty space between the rocker paper and the surface of the bar. This picture shows a good fit.

It's difficult to hold the rocker paper in place while doing anything else. So lay the rocker paper against the bar.

At each tick on the rocker paper, draw a tick (in chalk) on the bar.

Check to make sure that your ticks are all drawn correctly; the ticks should line up with the rocker paper when it's held up and aligned down the middle of the bar.

Draw the burr, X, and ticks on the other bar in the same way.

Now we'll examine the templates across the back.

Template 1 is a standard "wither template." The side marked "left" should be on the saddle's left side; the side of the paper with markings wil be facing toward the cantle.

Set the template across the bars of the saddle. Each side should sit across the X on the burr. The center line should point straight down.

For each of these templates, a "good fit" is determined by the manner in which the template sits across the bar.
  • The template should touch at the center of the bar.
    If the template touches closer to the center of the saddle, the bar's angle is too wide. If the template touches closer to the outer edge of the saddle, the bar's angle is too narrow.
  • The surface of the bar should slope evenly away from the template, both above and below.
    If the surface is closer to the template above or below, then the angle is not right.
  • For template 1, the tick mark on the template should be as close as possible to the X.
    If the X is below the tick mark (toward the center line), then the saddle would sit too far up the horse's shoulder. It will be too close to the spine. The horse needs a wider fork.
This picture shows a pretty good fit. The template touches the bar almost at the X (center of the burr). The bar slopes away from the template evenly both above and below. The tick mark (it's a * on this one to make it stand out) is quite close to the X. This might be an okay fit, or the angle might be just a touch too wide.

Templates 2 to 5 are similar to the standard "wither template." Template 2 is measured 4" back from the wither template.

The side marked "left" should be on the saddle's left side; the side of the paper with markings wil be facing toward the cantle.

Set the template across the bars of the saddle. Each side should sit across the first tick on the bar. The center line should point straight down.
  • The template should touch at the center of the bar.
    If the template touches closer to the center of the saddle, the bar's angle is too wide. If the template touches closer to the outer edge of the saddle, the bar's angle is too narrow.
  • The surface of the bar should slope evenly away from the template, both above and below.
    If the surface is closer to the template above or below, then the angle is not right.
  • For templates 2 to 5, the outside line (vertical line 4" to the left or right of the center) on the template should be as close as possible to the middle of the bar.
    If the middle of the bar is below the outside line (toward the center line), then the saddle will be too close to the spine.
This picture shows a narrow fit at template 2. The template touches the bar toward the outside edge. The surface of the bar slopes away toward the center, but not toward the edge. The outside lines are almost at the outer edge of the bar, nowhere near the middle.

Template 3 is measured 4" back from Template 2.

The side marked "left" should be on the saddle's left side; the side of the paper with markings wil be facing toward the cantle.

Set the template across the bars of the saddle. Each side should sit across the second tick on the bar. The center line should point straight down.
  • The template should touch at the center of the bar.
    If the template touches closer to the center of the saddle, the bar's angle is too wide. If the template touches closer to the outer edge of the saddle, the bar's angle is too narrow.
  • The surface of the bar should slope evenly away from the template, both above and below.
    If the surface is closer to the template above or below, then the angle is not right.
  • For templates 2 to 5, the outside line on the template should be as close as possible to the middle of the bar.
    If the middle of the bar is below the outside line (toward the center line), then the saddle will be too close to the spine.
This picture shows a narrow fit at template 3. The template touches the bar at the very outside edge. The surface of the bar slopes away only toward the center. The outside lines are almost at the outer edge of the bar, nowhere near the middle.

Template 4 is measured 4" back from Template 3.

The side marked "left" should be on the saddle's left side; the side of the paper with markings wil be facing toward the cantle.

Set the template across the bars of the saddle. Each side should sit across the third tick on the bar. The center line should point straight down.
  • The template should touch at the center of the bar.
    If the template touches closer to the center of the saddle, the bar's angle is too wide. If the template touches closer to the outer edge of the saddle, the bar's angle is too narrow.
  • The surface of the bar should slope evenly away from the template, both above and below.
    If the surface is closer to the template above or below, then the angle is not right.
  • For templates 2 to 5, the outside line on the template should be as close as possible to the middle of the bar.
    If the middle of the bar is below the outside line (toward the center line), then the saddle will be too close to the spine.
This picture shows a good fit at template 4. The template touches the bar at the center. The surface of the bar slopes away both toward the center and toward the edge. The outside lines are at the middle of the bar.

Template 5 is measured 4" back from Template 4.

The side marked "left" should be on the saddle's left side; the side of the paper with markings wil be facing toward the cantle.

Set the template across the bars of the saddle. Each side should sit across the fourth tick on the bar. The center line should point straight down.
  • The template should touch at the center of the bar.
    If the template touches closer to the center of the saddle, the bar's angle is too wide. If the template touches closer to the outer edge of the saddle, the bar's angle is too narrow.
  • The surface of the bar should slope evenly away from the template, both above and below.
    If the surface is closer to the template above or below, then the angle is not right.
  • For templates 2 to 5, the outside line on the template should be as close as possible to the middle of the bar.
    If the middle of the bar is below the outside line (toward the center line), then the saddle will be too close to the spine.
This picture shows a good fit at template 5. The template touches the bar at the center. The surface of the bar slopes away both toward the center and toward the edge. The outside lines are at the middle of the bar.

Next page: comparing to a complete saddle