What Is A Slick Fork Saddle?
The fork of a Western saddle is either a "slick" fork or a "swell" fork.
On this page, in text and photos, we describe what makes a saddle a "slick" fork saddle. You might also like: What Is A Swell Fork Saddle?
Below: An a-fork saddle, which is a type of slick fork saddle. The arrow is pointing to the widest part of the fork, which, on this saddle, is at the bottom where the fork joins the bars.
A "Slick" Fork Saddle Is...
A slick fork saddle has a fork that is widest at the bottom where it attaches to the saddle tree bars.
Below: The blue arrow is pointing to the bottom of the fork where it attaches to the bar on that side. The green arrow is pointing to the the fork above that point. Since the widest part of the fork on this saddle is at the bottom where the fork joins the bars, it is a “slick fork” saddle.
Slick Fork vs Swell Fork
If you're still a little fuzzy on what a slick fork saddle is, it might help to compare it to a swell fork saddle.
- A slick fork saddle has a fork that is widest at the bottom where it attaches to the bars.
- A swell fork saddle has a fork that is widest somewhere across the fork instead of at the bottom where it attaches to the bars. You can read about swell fork saddles here: What Is A Swell Fork Saddle?
A Refresher: A Saddle's Fork Is...
If the above information is confusing, it might be helpful to have a refresher as to what a saddle's "fork" is.
- The "fork" of a saddle is one of a saddle's basic parts. It is at the very front of the saddle.
- On a Western saddle, the saddle horn is at the top of the fork.
- English saddles have forks, too, but they're usually called a "pommel" instead of a "fork."
- The fork arches upwards to make room for the horse's withers beneath it.
- The bottom of the fork, on each side, attaches to a part of the saddle tree called the "bars." You can see where the fork and bars join on a bare saddle tree, but not on a finished saddle because this area is covered with leather (or synthetic materials on some saddles).
A Western saddle fork is also frequently called the "swells" or the "pommel." With English saddles, though, it's more common only to use the work “pommel.”
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