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Saddles - fitting horse saddles and types of saddles

the horses saddle, fititting the saddle, parts of the saddle Click on photo to enlarge

 When choosing a saddle for a horse you should decide which type of saddle, what purpose/riding style it will be used for. You must ensure when buying a saddle that it fits the horse correctly and is of suitable comfort to the rider.

 Points to remember when choosing a saddle

  • The saddle should conform comfortably to the structure of the horses back without in anyway inhibiting the animals natural movement
  •  The saddle has to suit you as well as the horse, particularly regarding the size of the seat and the length of your legs. The design should also allow you to position your weight, without undue effort, as nearly as possible over the horses centre of gravity or balance.
  • The design of the saddle should suit the purpose for which it is intended, for instance, general usage, jumping, dressage etc.
  • The material used and the construction of the saddle should be of sufficient high quality to ensure it is safe to use and is durable.    

 Types of saddles

  • Jumping saddle: The jumping saddle is designed to allow the rider to use a shorter stirrup leather and to sit well forward. The saddle is almost always built on a spring tree and has a fairly deep seat (A saddle tree is a frame on which the saddle is built, these are normally made of laminated wood and may include steel springs.   
  • Dressage saddle: The dressage saddle enables the rider to use the leg and weight aids with great precision. The leathers are long, and only a light flap and sweat flap come between the horse and rider.
  • Western saddle: There are four main types of western saddle. The pleasure or ranch saddle is suitable for general riding, and the equitation saddle is designed for use in equitation classes. The roping saddle and the cutting saddle are more specialised, being designed for use in calf roping and cow cutting competitions.   

Fitting a saddle

  • Weight must be evenly distributed on the back muscles.

  • No weight on the loins.

  • No pressure on the horses spine (test with rider mounted).

  • Front arch not too narrow. The withers must not be pinched.

  • Movement of shoulder blades must not be hampered.

  • Panel must be correctly stuffed. Stuffing should be regulated to give support for the knee and be tilted to prevent the rider sliding backwards.

  • Once a year, saddle should be checked by a saddler who will test the tree, stitching and re-stuff if required.  



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