Gear Up & Ride – The Saddle Guide

There are a number of different horse saddle types that are available to you. These pieces of equipment are key for horse riding and allow a rider to safely and comfortably ride a horse for long periods of time.

There are two main types of horse saddle, which are English horse saddles and Western horse saddles. Obviously, there are then a number of other classifications of saddles within these two main groups.

Both English and Western saddles are designed to give the rider control of the horse, however, they are both meant for different styles of horse riding.
English horse saddle
The English equestrian saddle is designed to allow the rider maximum control and movement over the horse and is consequently used predominantly for competitions such as racing, show jumping and dressage.
English horse saddles feature less padding and a much less substantial seats and cantles. The stirrups of English saddles can be detached quickly in the event of a fall from the horse.
Equine superstore stocks a wide range of English equestrian saddles including the Wintec Pro Jump Special which is visibly similar to a Western equestrian saddle.
Western horse saddle
Western horse saddles are designed to be ridden in for hours at a time and were designed by cowboys in the American West. They require much more padding, in the form of horse saddle blankets, in order to make them more comfortable for the horse.
The stirrups of a Western horse saddle are often longer and larger, which allows the rider to easily slip their feet out should they need to. One of the most prominent features of Western saddles is the horn, which is purely functional and was initially used to rope cows.
Western horse saddles have a much larger tree and a more pronounced seat and cantle which provides more comfort and security to the rider. Western saddles such as the Wintec Western Horse Saddle offer excellent value to riders looking for a Western equestrian saddle.
How saddles work
Horse saddles are placed on the horse’s back and are buckled (English) or cinched (Western) under the horse’s belly to keep it in place. It is vital that equestrian saddles fit well to ensure that the horse doesn’t suffer discomfort and that there is no chance of horse saddles slipping or coming loose.

Endurance horse saddles are something of a hybrid equestrian saddle, they feature the wide seat and padding of the Western horse saddle but lack a horn. And they also have the stirrups slightly further forward.

Horse saddles have a lot of components:
Tree – This is the base on which the rest of the saddle is built. This component is usually made out of wood or a similar synthetic material. Once it is built is then covered in leather or another synthetic material.

Seat – This is, obviously, the part of the saddle where the rider sits. The pommel and cantle are usually higher up in order to offer the rider more security.

Pommel – The pommel is the front of the saddle that is slightly raised.

Cantle – The back of the saddle, that is again, slightly raised higher than the seat.

Stirrup – The stirrup is the part of the saddle where the rider puts their feet. It provides plenty of support to the rider as well as leverage.

Leathers and flaps (English) or fenders (Western) – The leathers, connect the stirrups to the saddle tree and the flaps or fenders offer support to the rider’s leg whilst also protecting the rider from sweat.

D-ring – This is a ‘D’ shaped ring that is situated on the front of the saddle. It is the attachment point for certain pieces of equipment such as the breastplates.

Girth or cinch – This is the strap that goes beneath the horse’s barrel and holds the saddle to the animal.

Panels, padding or lining – These are essentially the cushioning that is located on the underside of the saddle to protect the horse.

Additional, optional components of saddles
As well as all of the essential saddle components listed above, there are also a number of other parts that appear on some saddles to offer extra functionality.

Surcingle – This is a long strap that goes over the saddle and around the barrel of the horse in order to secure the saddle to the animal.

Monkey grip – This part is also sometimes known as the jug handle. It is a handle that can be attached to the front of European saddles or, on the right hand side of an Australian stock saddle. The rider can use the monkey grip to help maintain their seat or to help them when mounting the horse.

Horn – This knob-like appendage that is attached to the pommel or swells. It is most commonly associated with a Western saddle, however, it can be seen on some other saddle designs.

Knee rolls – These are seen on some English saddles and they offer extra padding on the front of the flaps in order to stabilise the rider’s legs. On some saddles, thigh rolls are also added to the back of the flap, offering the same assistance.


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