Equestrian saddles must be chosen and fitted correctly in order to ensure the best performance and safety for you and your horse.

Horse saddles that are too narrow pinch, and cause a lot of discomfort for the horse. Whereas, a horse saddle that is too wide presses down on the horse’s back.

It is vitally important,  therefore, that you make the correct decision when choosing your next saddle. There are a wide variety of saddles out there, from English to Western saddles and everything in between.

You need to think long and hard and follow the steps laid out in this guide closely, in order to ensure that both you, and your horse, get the most out of the design you choose.

Remember, a saddle isn’t a cheap purchase. You don’t want to spend upwards of a couple of hundred pounds and end up with a piece of equipment that isn’t suited for you or your horse.

 
Making sure the saddle fits

Once you have measured your horse you will need to try the saddle on your horse. This will inform you as to whether it is a perfect fit or whether you need to consider a different size or shape.

Place the saddle on the horse’s back. The horse saddle should be sat on the back of the horse flat, and it should not be tipping back or forward. For western saddles, you must be able to run your hand between the horse’s back, shoulder and gullets and the saddle. For dressage and English equestrian saddles, you must be able to look all the way down the channel between the gullets, underneath the saddle.

Next, tighten up the cinch or girth. Using a clean pad, ride the horse with your newly fitted horse saddle. Once you have ridden, you should find a coating of sweat on the pad that is even. If you find any gaps in the sweat marks, the horse saddle does not fit properly. Also, check for any soreness on the horse’s back. This is a sign that equestrian saddles do not fit correctly.

Horse saddles should be a good fit for you as the rider too. You should try out several options until you find one that is comfortable for you. Three of four of your fingers should be able to fit between the seat and the pommel and cantle. Stirrups should be adjustable so that your heels are kept under your shoulders.

Different types of saddle available
It is important that you go for a saddle that is best suited for both you and your horse. A number of factors will play their part in making one saddle better than another. You must always remember what discipline you are involved with, in order to end up with the best saddle. Here is a small run down of some of the most popular saddle types that are available to you.

General purpose saddle – These saddles are, as their name suggests, all-rounders. They are suitable for both beginners and accomplished riders and they allow for greater balance and position change. These saddles are versatile and can be used for a range of purposes from hunting to dressage. All you have to do is make small and simple adjustments to the stirrups depending on what type of riding you are to be doing. They are also designed without knee pads, in order to offer ease of use for riders of different sizes and abilities.

Dressage saddles – These saddles are, obviously, designed for dressage and are best suited for competitive and accomplished riders. More experienced riders, who are likely to use these saddles, are more likely to appreciate the fluid style of a dressage saddle. These saddles compliment the elegant straight-backed and close-leg contact that is required for dressage. They are often fitted with a straight knee roll and can also utilise a thigh role. These types of saddle also incorporate long, lean and straight saddle flaps and tend to have a more sunken seat shape for enhanced balance.

Jumping saddles – Jumping saddles are sometimes known as hunt seats or close-contact seats. With their unique design they tend to tilt the rider into the forward-seat position. Jumping saddles provide a more even and flat seating surface for the rider, while horses are allowed more flexibility when jumping obstacles, reducing the likelihood of falls. These saddles differ from dressage saddles in that they have particularly large saddle flaps, offering more support. These flaps offer more stability and protect the lower leg.

Hunting saddles – These saddles tilt the rider back and are – as their name suggests – often preferred by riders who hunt. They are often made from extremely durable leather and are perfect for riders who may be required to jump over hedges with uneven drops on the other side. The way they are designed allows the rider to stay in an upright position while tilting backwards in the landing. The low cantle and pommel also work well to ensure that the landing is more comfortable.

Side saddles – These saddles were originally developed for the modest European women of the middle ages and they allow the rider to remain in a decent riding position, even when they have both of their legs on one side of the horse. Side saddles have two horns, which work to keep the rider’s legs in position on one side. A whip is often used to control the other side of the horse. Anyone using these saddles will notice that they are able to gallop and jump comfortably.

Racing saddles – These saddles are smaller and more lightweight than most other saddles. They are designed to be used on galloping horses and are therefore, unsurprisingly, the saddle of choice for jockeys. Racing saddles have very short stirrups and a single girth strap and also have flatter seats, which allow the rider to crouch high over the saddle while travelling at high speeds. They also make galloping and fence-jumping far easier.

Saddles available on Equine Superstore
Here at Equine Superstore we have a nice variety of saddles available at a range of prices, from your economy saddles, all the way up to your more expensive models which are designed for a specific purpose. To view all of the saddles available on Equine Superstore, click here now. More saddles will be added as they come into stock.
Collegiate Scholar All Purpose Saddle with Round Cantle

The Collegiate Scholar All Purpose Saddle has been constructed with the highest quality leather. The design has been developed to create the utmost comfort for both horse and rider. The shaped knee rolls aid your leg position and give better stability. The semi-deep seat and round cantle assist in giving even further security. The changeable gullet system allows the rider to easily adjust the fit to make it the optimum position for their riding needs.
View the Collegiate Scholar All Purpose Saddle here.
Collegiate Lectern Dressage Saddle

The Collegiate Lectern Dressage Saddle has been hand crafted with you and your horse in mind. The high quality double leather ensures the saddle looks smart. Large knee blocks enhance the stability and a generous channel keeps your horse comfortable. The Y girthing system is long and flexible which means that the saddle can secure successfully on horses of all shapes and size. The fit can be adjusted easily using the easy-change gullet system.
View the Collegiate Lectern Dressage Saddle here.
Collegiate Degree Mono Event Saddle

The Collegiate Degree Mono Event Saddle is constructed in soft and supple double leather, made with the highest quality naturally tanned materials. Full grain leather triangular front thigh block aid comfort through allowing a secure leg position, whilst the semi-deep seat and square cantle improve this comfort even further. Collegiate have also implemented a mono flap and long girthing system, that will work effortlessly to give a close contact feel. An easy-change gullet system ensure that adjustment is quick and easy whilst also providing an optimum fit.
View the Collegiate Degree Mono Event Saddle here.
 
View all saddles here.
 

 

Pictures: Darah, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Katie Brady