Western Tack – Bucking Rolls

Bucking Rolls
Bucking Rolls
Bucking Rolls and a 3-horse relay race

I first found out about bucking rolls sitting on the arena floor after I lurched out of the saddle and landed in a pile. It was a 3-horse relay race. Nice big arena with a good surface and we could give the horses their head. A prospect that makes your blood fizz. People I normally team with either weren’t there or teamed with others and so I was happy to run the middle horse with a couple of others we’d never teamed with before. Not a problem, they were both good riders on good horses.

But, because we normally take either the first or last baton and I would need to change it from one hand to the other this time, I tied off my reins (see “Split Reins”) to make sure that if I did drop them in a fumble of the baton from one hand to the other, they wouldn’t drop away to the ground.

It started well. We took the baton cleanly and rounded the first two corners nicely and George opened up down the back straight. Sad soul that I am, it’s raising the hairs on my arms as I write this! But it’s what versatility horsemanship is all about. Cutting loose after the relative restraint of a Reining Pattern or a Western Riding class. There’s not a feeling like it when your horse is flat out and going for it…


Anyway, the inevitable happened. Halfway down the back straight, I passed the baton from one hand to the other and fumbled the reins. But I hadn’t thought this through. The weight of the knot in the reins automatically dropped them down one side of George’s neck and, at about 40mph, I had to reach down and get them back. Not a problem but the third corner was coming up fast and I was still getting back in the saddle as we got there. George took the corner OK but was obviously unsettled and on the short run from the 3rd to the 4th corner he jinked first one way and then the next and I flew out the side.

Fortunately, it was a nice soft surface and I’ve had worse falls. But as I was getting my wind back, my good old friend Stuart Powell came up to me. He said: “You know, if you’d had bucking rolls on that saddle, that wouldn’t have happened…”

Of course, I can now think of lot of other reasons why it needn’t have happened. But, as most of them have to do with self – improvement, I straight away took myself off to my favourite online shop: the Out West Saddlery. Western Horseman Magazine calls it the “Cowboy Candy Store” (and rightly so) – and got me some Bucking Rolls.

Not really “tack”…

They’re not really tack in the usual sense of the word. So: what are Bucking Rolls? Simple really: two padded pouches fitted to the western saddle seat. They replace non-existent swells on a slick fork saddle (hence the expression “slick fork”). My saddle has a Wade tree to clear George’s withers (he was a Part Bred Quarter Horse and it was the thoroughbred in him). But, also because I kinda like the look of a Wade and it’s going to suit Peanut to a tee in due course. Bucking rolls provide thigh support and give you something to lean on when things get busy.

Bucking rolls
Bucking rolls fitted to saddle

They’re easily fitted and come in different shapes and sizes with either a screw fix or leather thongs. And they work. I thought they they might cramp me in a bit but they actually give you a better feeling of security. You can really lean into them when things are getting versatile!

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