Saddle types and uses
Finding the perfect saddle for your horse can take some shopping around. There are several different types of saddles depending on what type of riding you intend to do, and you want to make sure the saddle fits both the rider and the horse.
Finding a Good Fit
Used saddles are easy to find and can save you a substantial amount of money, considering that new saddles can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. However, make sure to try it on and ensure that it fits well before you buy it. It's important to find a saddle that fits your horse properly to prevent bruising and discomfort. If you're buying new, most horse saddle companies offer return policies or custom-made saddles to guarantee a good fit.
Some common types of western saddles, and their features, include:
- Trail and pleasure saddles. These usually have lots of leather ties to attach gear to, and they are generally lightweight and comfortable.
- Work saddles. Work saddles are padded with a reinforced rigging and a more stable horn for maximum stability.
- Barrel racing saddles. The ridge around this saddle's deeper seat helps keep the rider in the saddle.
- Endurance saddles. These are small, lightweight and usually hornless.
- Roping saddles. Sturdy and padded, most roping saddles have a pocket seat to allow stable positioning.
- Show saddles. Show saddles are detailed with decorative tooling and have turned stirrups and a lower pommel and horn to allow the rider more subtle control.
Some common types of English saddles, and their features, include:
- All-purpose saddles, which usually have a padded flap
- Hunt-seat saddles, which are designed to allow stability when jumping
- Flat racing saddles, which allow for shorter stirrups so the rider can lean as forward as possible
- Dressage saddles, which are used in shows and have a deeper cut to show off more of the horse
Saddle shopping usually involves buying more than just the saddle. For each new saddle, there are some accessories you should also be looking at:
- Saddle pads go below the saddle to prevent chafing and saddle sores.
- Bridles go around the horse's head and are used to direct the animal.
- Collars and breaststraps attach the bridle to the saddle and provide the greater control necessary for tasks like roping and barrel racing.
- Bits go into the horse's mouth and give better communication between horse and rider
- Reins are how you steer.
- Cinches, or girths, wrap around the horse's midsection to keep the saddle steady.
- Stirrups attach to the saddle to give you a more dignified way of controlling the horse through foot pressure.