Saddle Fork: The fork of early saddles was created by a single forked tree branch. Today it is made of the same wood as the rest of the tree. (see Saddle Overview)
Fitting the Rider to Saddle Swells: The swells (padded fork) of a saddle have significance to the fit and use. A narrow swell is preferred by most Ropers so that it won’t interfere with the action of the rope. A wider swell is desired by trail riders or riders who ride in rough country or rough horses because it gives a more secure seat to help keep the rider in the saddle.
Fork Angle: The straighter the fork sits on the front of the saddle, the less room is available in the seat. A full slope tree slants forward 25 to 40 degrees and allows more forward movement in the seat. You can see from the illustration how much more room there is in a seat with a full slope than one with a straight up slope.