Choosing a horse riding saddle is yet another big decision and possibly a big investment 😅 so buying the right saddle is super important as it contributes to your comfort and your horse’s comfort while riding.
Here are some things to consider when buying a saddle:
When our daughter had her first lease horse aged 9, we bought two very old, secondhand saddles for a total of $200. When we look back, we’re unsure how she ever stayed on the horse the saddles were so flat and worn 😅
It was only when she got her own horse, aged 14, that we invested in a really, really good saddle – a brown, 17 inch, ATM Jump Saddle at a whopping $3,995.00 😱 and which was knocked off the rack by her horse and scratched after the very 1st ride!! Say no more…
So setting a budget straight up is a good idea but even if going down the path of buying a secondhand saddle, be a bit smarter than we were and still consider a few points below.
Saddle designs differ depending on the discipline of riding such as dressage, jumping, trail riding, and Western riding. The saddles you consider will need to be specifically designed for your riding purpose.
Fit for Horse:
The saddle must fit your horse properly because a poorly fitted saddle can contribute to discomfort and result in lameness / injury so you need to consider your horse’s back shape, and withers height. Google horse withers to get a visual.
If investing in a good saddle, it’s worth consulting with a professional saddle fitter who can assess your horse (and you) and recommend suitable saddle options. Your coach or an experienced rider can usually refer a good saddle fitter in your area.
The seat size has to do with you (the rider) and takes into consideration your weight and leg length. A saddle that is too small or too large can affect your balance and stability while riding.
Saddle seat size can differ between the types of saddle. Saddle measurements range from 15 to 19 inches with half sizes as well i.e. 15.5, 16.5 etc.
The saddle tree is the rigid structure that provides the foundation and support for a saddle (it’s what gives the saddle shape when synthetic or leather outer is added).
It should match the shape of your horse’s back and distribute the rider’s weight evenly. There are different tree sizes and shapes available, such as narrow, medium, and wide, to accommodate various horse breeds.
Saddle trees are usually wood or steel with wood being the traditional, old school way of making a saddle.
The flaps of the saddle are what drop down each side of the saddle and can influence your leg position and contact with the horse. Longer flaps are suitable for riders with long legs, while shorter flaps are better for shorter riders. Ensure that the flaps allow your legs to hang naturally and maintain a proper alignment.
Horse saddles are made from various materials such as leather or synthetic materials. Leather saddles are durable and offer a traditional look, but they require regular maintenance. Synthetic saddles are lightweight, low-maintenance, and often more affordable.
Comfort and Personal Preference:
Try different saddles to assess comfort and personal preference. Consider factors like padding, stirrup bar position, knee rolls, and overall design. Ensure that the saddle allows you to maintain a balanced position and gives you the necessary support.
Seek Professional Advice:
If you’re unsure about choosing a saddle or want expert guidance, as already mentioned above, it’s worth consulting a professional saddle fitter or an experienced rider in your discipline who can assess your needs, evaluate your horse, and provide some recommendations.
If you do go with a saddle fitter, most have their preferred brands that they will steer you towards so if you have a brand in mind, you may need to address this prior to a consultation. A saddle fit can be around $200.
Remember, selecting the right horse riding saddle is crucial for both you and your horse’s well-being and performance. Take your time, research different options, and seek assistance when necessary to make an informed decision.
Click here to learn more about saddles and horse tack in general.
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It’s been a labour of love born out of frustration when searching for a riding school for our daughter.