How to Choose the Right Saddle

When deciding how to choose the right saddle, the first thing that you need to determine is its main use. Each saddle has a unique identity. There isn’t a one-type-fits-all approach so the choice isn’t as simple as you might imagine.

There are three important factors to consider when making this decision:

Difference Between Leather and Synthetic Saddle

While synthetic fabrics used to have a stigma around them due to their bright colors and flamboyant designs in the past, today’s synthetic saddles are hardly distinguishable from traditional leather ones.

On the other hand, you need to be cautions when choosing a leather saddle. Make sure it’s crafted from high quality leather for durability.

A Saddle Must Fit Both the Horse and Rider

There’s a fine line that must be drawn here. If a saddle doesn’t fit your horse properly, then it can lead to health and training issues. On the other hand, one that doesn’t fit the rider properly can throw them out of position and is uncomfortable.

The gullet’s width is the most important consideration when sizing a saddle for your horse. Balance is a close second.

Is it Okay to Buy a Used Saddle?

Used saddles have the advantage of already being broken in, but come at the cost of durability. If you decide to save money by investing in a used saddle, be sure you closely examine wear and tear.

On the other hand, new horse saddles are more expensive but you know exactly what you’re getting. However, they must be broken in.

Saddle Comparisons

Barrel Saddles

These deep seated saddles are primarily used for Barrel Racing. They come with a nice grip and a higher pommel than other models. Both features are designed to secure the rider.

Another noteworthy feature is a higher cantle, which allows the rider to secure themselves during sharp turns.

All of these features come in a lightweight design that doesn’t hinder a horse’s racing performance.

Key Features

  • Horn is higher than other designs, providing more grip.
  • Cantle is high and has deep pockets to provide security.
  • Has shorter skirts.
  • Back of seat is equipped with a hip hugger.

Show Saddles

This type of saddle is perfect for those of you who are planning to enter shows and other casual venues. They are designed with aesthetics in mind, boasting lots of eye-catching silver and close contact skirts designed to enhance the leg cues. Horns are smaller and thicker than other models. The whole design’s goal is to keep riders in a perfect position while riding.

With that said, show saddles are also more expensive since they include so many intricate details. 

Key Features

  • Detailed tooling.
  • Aesthetically pleasing silver design on the cantle, pommel, horn, stirrups, and skirts.
  • Seats are balanced so that the rider is always in perfect position.
  • Seats are padded for comfort.

Roping Saddles

Roping saddles are designed with sturdy trees that are reinforced with special rigging to ensure they don’t break. Seats are pocketed in a way that allows the rider to dismount quickly. Additionally, they come with a longer skirt. As a result of all these features, roping saddles are heavier than other types. 

  • Probably the sturdiest saddle on the market. Crafted with rawhide, bullhide, and other materials to guarantee durability.
  • Rigging is reinforced and attached to the tree and back strap.
  • Seats are designed to allow for quick dismount and precise positioning.

Cutting Saddles

Cutting saddles are designed with one specific goal in mind – to ensure the rider stays balanced while also staying out of the horse’s way. Cutting saddles have a high pommel and low cantle that allow a lot more movement. The seat is flat with a slight rise so that it doesn’t dig into the rider’s back.

  • High pommel and horn with a low cantle.
  • Flat seat that rises slightly at the pommel.
  • Rigging that is reinforced for maximum durability.

Trail Saddles

Trail saddles are lightweight and come with the most options. Just remember that they are not designed for heavy activities like ranch work or roping. The goal with their design seems to put comfort first, since riding the trails is a casual activity. One distinct feature that all trail saddles share is that they come with strings so you can tie essential equipment to them easily.

  • Can be found in several varieties.
  • Generally crafted with a lightweight tree.
  • Not designed for heavy activities.
  • Includes leather ties to equipment can easily be carried around.

How to Choose the Right Saddle

Choosing the right saddle comes down to the activity you plan to use it for. Every horse riding activity has a saddle that’s optimized for it. Also be sure to check the quality of the material to ensure that it’s durable enough to withstand stress.

Browse a few online shops before making your final decision and remember that nothing is set in stone. Everyone is different, so find the saddle that best matches your unique needs.