Selecting the Right Western Saddle for You

and Your Horse

The options seem endless when trying to find the right western saddle. While that can be daunting, so many options mean that there is a style or size that will fit you and your horse. But, there are a few basic criteria that will help you find what you need.

Are You Looking for a Work or Show Western Saddle?

Are You Looking for a Work or Show Western Saddle?

Do you need a saddle that is just for horse shows and won’t get used for schooling? Or do you have a show saddle but need a new work saddle for everyday riding? Knowing the answer splits your range of options in half. Show saddles normally have more intricate designs with tooling and silver plating. Work saddles are used for schooling or in some ranch classes. Many work saddles are usually roughout or smooth leather with some tooling. Work saddles are often used for training, but in the next section we’ll break down saddle purpose to help narrow your choices a little more.

What will be the Western Saddle's main use?

What will be the Western Saddle's main use?

The question seems straight forward, yet sometimes we have multiple styles of western riding the saddle might need to be used for.

If you know you need a show saddle, you may want to look at others showing in the same classes. How much silver is on their saddle? What are the current color or pattern trends? But balance the answers to those questions with what is most comfortable for you and your horse. Most show saddles that are not custom will have a seat that’s balance point in the center for a more proper riding position. The skirts may be larger to accommodate more silver and tooling. Alternatively, if you are showing in reining or ranch classes you’ll want a saddle with little to no silver embellishments and a different shaped seat to accommodate the altered riding position.

If you are not interested in a show saddle but a saddle for everyday riding there are a few options to consider. If you are just casually trail riding or riding less often, a synthetic or lighter weight saddle might be what you want. Synthetic saddles are more weatherproof and scratch resistant, making them perfect for trail riding. A synthetic saddle also does not require as much maintenance and cleaning as a leather saddle does. For training, riding multiple horses, or everyday riding a work saddle is probably the saddle of choice. Most work saddles are roughout which is extremely durable. In tree rigging and a cutaway skirt allow for closer contact in theses saddles.

Do I Fit in the Western Saddle?

Do I Fit in the Western Saddle?

In many cases you will already know what size saddle you’ll need and if it fits correctly. But if you’re switching disciplines or unsure of what to get that’s normal. If you have a western saddle to sit in you should be able to fit two to three fingers between your thigh and the fork or swell of the saddle. More than that in a show saddle may mean it is two big, where less would be too small. You should also be able to fit four fingers between you and the top of the cantle. For specialized saddles like cutting saddles these rules do not apply. Those are built larger and flatter to accommodate more movement.

Buying a saddle is a big commitment. With that in mind, most of us may have more questions specific to our needs. To look at our full selection of western saddles, click here or talk to a saddle specialist at 800-365-1311.