If you do not have a saddle that fits your horse properly, then your horse is not going to be able to perform to the best of his abilities when you are riding him. It is important that you be able to correctly judge whether a saddle has full or semi-quarter horse bars so that you know what size bar is right for your horse.
The Bars of a Saddle
When you are talking about the bars on a western saddle, you are referring to the two internal structures that run down the length of the saddle. The function of the bars is to distribute the weight of the saddle and the rider across the horse's back. The bars are located inside the saddle and you will never actually view the bars of your saddle unless you completely take the saddle apart.
Western Saddle Bars
Western saddles are typically offered with either full quarter horse bars or semi-quarter horse bars. A saddle with full quarter horse bars is designed to fit a horse with a wide, fairly flat back. A saddle with semi-quarter horse bars is designed to fit a horse with a medium-sized back. The primary difference between the two sizes is in the angle at which the bars are positioned and the width of the gullet.
The gullet of the saddle is the area between the top of the horse's withers and the underside of the pommel. It is measured from concho to concho at the front of the saddle below the pommel. The pommel is the front of the saddle and has the horn sitting on top of it. A saddle with full quarter horse bars will typically measure 7 inches across the gullet. A saddle with semi-quarter horse bars normally has a gullet measurement of 6 3/4 inches.
Full quarter horse bars have a wider angle than semi-quarter horse bars. When you are looking at the saddle from the front, a saddle with semi-quarter horse bars will appear to be narrower with a steeper angle created between the skirts and the gullet. A saddle with full quarter horse bars will appear to be wider and will be sitting flatter than a comparable saddle with semi-quarter horse bars.
If you have closely examined your saddle and still feel uncertain about the type of bars, you can always call the manufacturer to find out what type of bars your saddle has. Most quality saddles have serial numbers stamped somewhere on the front left side of the saddle. You can also take the saddle to a professional saddle fitter and have its size evaluated.
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.