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BAR ANGLE VS GULLET WIDTH
SWELL GULLET WIDTH
The swell gullet width (see figure 1) is the end result of the combination of the following;  bar channel width ( tree makers use hand hold width), bar flare, bar pattern, and swell design.  For the swell gullet width to measure 6 1/2", the tree maker will adjust the bar channel or hand hold  width, bar flare, bar pattern, and swell design to acheave the end result of 6 1/2".  The swell gullet width is measured from the point where the top of the bar meets the bottom of the swell and across to the same point on the other side.  






Having defined the terms quarter horse bars, full quarter horse bars, semi-quarter horse bars, etc. as the angle of the swell base at the point where the swell attaches to the bars.  There are terminologies being used, that are open to interpretation that have a tendency to misleading and prone to misconception.


Some have interpreted a flatter angle to be wider and thus a wider gullet.  A flatter angle will produce a wider measurement at the bottom of the bars ( see figures A and B ) but not at the top of the bars where gullet width is measured.  This measurement at the bottom of the bars ( see inset in figure A ) is referred to as spread, bar spread, or gullet spread.  As stated before,  although closely related, bar angle and gullet width are independent measurements.
The difference in width at the bottom of the bars between the full-quarter horse bars and the semi-quarter horse bars is just over 3/8 of an inch overall or 3/16 of an inch on each side.
NOTE:  This example is from one tree maker and another tree maker may differ.

Some saddletree makers and saddle makers/companies have incorporated gullet width and bar angle into a generic term. These generic terms have worked well for the large tree and saddle companies building and selling saddles for a wide variety of horses and riders.   For example:  

Regular Quarter Horse bars - gullet width: 5 3/4"
Semi-quarter horse bars - gullet width: 6"
Full quarter horse bars - gullet width: 6 1/4"-6 1/2"
Extra-wide quarter horse bars - gullet width: 6 3/4"-7"
Arabian bars - gullet width: 6 1/4"-6 3/4" (has a flatter pitch than quarter horse bars)
NOTE: ASMA does not agree with this terminology as stated, the information is somewhat outdated and contradicted by other sources and this example is only used for the purposes of illustration.

This information or variations there of has been and is widely used by many in books, articles, saddle catalogs and especially on the Internet.  Therefore, this leads to the misconception that the tree bars discription will have a specific gullet width.  So when a rider is told they need a wider saddle they use this information and seek a saddle with full quarter horse bars.  Which they may or may not need.   Using the example above, a more descriptive terminology would be:

Regular Quarter Horse bars - with a gullet width of: 5 3/4"
Regular Quarter Horse bars - with a gullet width of: 6 1/4"
Semi-quarter horse bars - with a gullet width of: 6"
Semi-quarter horse bars - with a gullet width of: 6 1/4"
Full quarter horse bars - with a gullet width of: 6 1/4"
Full quarter horse bars - with a gullet width of:  6 1/2"
Arabian bars - with a gullet width of: 6 1/4"
Arabian bars - with a gullet width of: 6 3/4"

This terminology separates the two measurements.  

The generic terminology works well for the majority of horsemen until the expectations and level of saddle fit increases.  At this point the generic terminology starts to fall apart as it is to vague and misleading.  What is meant by a narrow tree or a wide tree?  Does a wide tree means a wider gullet measurement, a higher degree of angle in the bars, or a combination of both and the reverse for a narrow tree?  The answer: maybe depending who you talk to.

Wide or narrow should only apply to the gullet measurement
The gullet measurement is expressed in inches; i.e.  6", 6 1/4", 6 1/2". etc.

More angle [degrees] in the bar  (flatter) or less angle [degrees] in the bar angle (steeper) should apply
The bar angle is expressed by tree makers in degrees: i.e. 90, 93, 95, etc.  
While a change in angle will effect the width of the bar spread, it is a secondary result.

So, when it is stated a wider saddle is needed, the statement should be compound reflecting the two separate measurements.

You need a saddle with Quarter Horse type bars and a wider gullet.
or
You need a saddle with Quarter Horse type bars that have more angle [degrees] in the bar (flatter).
 or
You need a saddle with Quarter Horse type bars with a wider gullet and more angle [degrees] in the bar (flatter).
or
You need a saddle with Quarter Horse type bars with a wider gullet and less angle [degrees] in the bar  (steeper).




Copyright 2010 American Saddle Makers Association, Inc.