Finding The Right Saddle

A Beginners Guide To Picking A Saddle

When it comes to saddles, one size fits all is not something to consider.  Having the right saddle for you and your horse will help both you perform better.  So let’s talk about some of the basics.

Some General Rules To Consider

  • The seat size of the western saddle refers to how the rider fits the saddle and has nothing to do with how it fits the horse itself.
  • There should be about 4 inches between the front of your body and the swells of the saddle.
  • Your behind should rest on the base of the cantle but not pressed against it.
  • It’s better to have a saddle that is a little big than one that is too small. Smaller saddles can cause some chaffing that will make you uncomfortable.

Western saddles have a stated seat size.  This size is the distance from the base of the horn to the top middle area of the cantle. This distance is then shown in half-inch increments from 12 to 17 inches.

A Standard Sizing Guide

  • Youth: 12 to 13 inches
  • Small Adult: 14 inches
  • Average Adult: 15 inches
  • Large Adult: 16 inches
  • Extra Large Adult: 17 inches

You would think that with a published seat size, picking the right saddle would be easy but it is really just the beginning.

In addition to picking the right size, you really need to sit in a variety of saddles in the size you need to find the one you are most comfortable with.

You need to consider the seat depth, slope, cantle slope, cantle dish, fork style, and fork angle.  Each of these features can affect the rider and the way they fit the saddle.

Competition Riders

If you are riding in competitions, then it is imperative that you get the right saddle for you, the horse and the type of riding you are going to do.  This will ensure that you will be at the top of your game when it comes time for your events.

Saddles, bridles, bits, cinches, and reins are all part of your performance equipment and they need to be top-level in order for you to keep being in the winner’s circle.

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