Superior Saddle Fitting: A Step-by-Step Guide

Storey's Country Wisdom Bulletin A-238


By Editors of Storey Publishing

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ebook (Digital original)


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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around August 15, 2001. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Since 1973, Storey’s Country Wisdom Bulletins have offered practical, hands-on instructions designed to help readers master dozens of country living skills quickly and easily. There are now more than 170 titles in this series, and their remarkable popularity reflects the common desire of country and city dwellers alike to cultivate personal independence in everyday life.


What Type of Riding Will You Do?

The first factor to consider in choosing a saddle is the type of riding you will do. If you are interested in casual trail riding, there are numerous saddles from which you might choose. If you plan to become a skilled rider in a specific discipline and intend to compete, however, you’ll need to choose a saddle style appropriate for the particular discipline.

Deciding whether you will ride English or Western is a help, but there are so many specialized saddles available for each style of riding, you also need to understand the purpose of the specific saddle and decide how you intend to use it. Specialty saddles are available for all possible purposes, including polo, racing, and trick riding, among others.

Once these preliminaries are taken care of and you know what kind of riding you want to do and the type of saddle you should buy, you will need to refine your choice even further, because most saddle types are available in a broad range of materials, designs, and prices.

English Saddles

English saddles are smaller than Western saddles and have no saddle horn; they also are lighter and easier to lift than traditional-style, leather Western saddles. Close-contact models tend to be extremely light, and synthetic saddles are even lighter, with some weighing as little as 10 pounds. Generally, English saddles are designed to enable the rider to sit close to the horse’s body, to help the rider stay balanced over the horse’s center of balance, and to allow the rider to communicate with the horse easily and directly through seat position and leg aids.

Like Western saddles, English saddles are available in a variety of styles, designs, materials, and prices, and are tailored for specific purposes. Whether your main interest is dressage, eventing, jumping, trail riding, endurance, saddleseat, or sidesaddle riding, there is an English saddle for you.

Design and Rider Position

The form of an English saddle follows its function.

Dressage saddles are designed for balance and communication, with the rider remaining in an upright position with a long leg, similar to the position of a Western equitation rider. Dressage saddles have straight-cut flaps. Many dressage saddles have deep seats, and the stirrups on dressage saddles hang almost directly below the seat. Some dressage saddles are equipped with padded knee rolls that help to keep the rider’s legs in the correct position.

Western Saddles

Don’t let childhood memories of unwieldy, too-heavy Western saddles stop you from enjoying Western riding. Western saddles are popular at rental stables and for trail riding precisely because their design and size offer a comfortable, secure seat for the novice rider. True, there was a time when traditional Western, or stock, saddles tended to be large and heavy, difficult for children to lift onto ponies and for short riders to lift onto tall horses. Old-style Western saddles also isolated the horse and rider from each other with many layers of thick, stiff leather. Today, Western saddles are being manufactured from lighter materials, with synthetic saddles weighing as little as 15 to 20 pounds. Leather saddles also are available that place a minimal amount of leather between horse and rider, resulting in improved communication.

Western saddles come in many different designs and styles, each suitable for a particular purpose. Whether you are interested in reining, roping, cutting, showing, equitation, trail, endurance, or sidesaddle, there is a Western saddle for you.


Other Saddle Types

Special riding styles have given rise to special-purpose saddles developed specifically for endurance riding and other sports.

Endurance saddles are designed for extreme trail riding. The best saddles in this class are comfortable for both horse and rider, are often lightweight, and come equipped with D-rings (“dees”) that allow the rider to secure to the saddle all sorts of bags, bottles, and other equipment. There is little leeway for fit problems with an endurance saddle — even a minor problem that might not be noticed during a short, thirty-minute ride in the arena will make itself all too apparent during a six- or eight-hour ride over difficult terrain. Endurance saddles are considered neither English nor Western.

Australian saddles became popular in the United States when the motion picture The Man from Snowy River caused a surge of interest in all things Australian, and for good reason. They offer an excellent alternative for trail riders who aren’t satisfied with conventional English or Western saddles. The poleys


On Sale
Aug 15, 2001
Page Count
32 pages

Editors of Storey Publishing

Editors of Storey Publishing

About the Author

Storey Publishing, located in North Adams, Massachusetts, specializes in books for all ages that promote creative hands-on living and teach the skills to enhance enjoyment of gardening, nature and outdoor activity, cooking and food preserving, crafts, self-care and conscious living, backyard homesteading, animal raising, and a sustainable lifestyle.

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