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How to Find the Right Saddle Fit

Posted by Brit Ellerman on

Having a saddle is crucial for most, if not all, horse riding activities. So you know you need a saddle, but maybe you don’t know how to choose one. There are a lot of things to consider when buying a saddle, because it’s important to find the right fit.


Saddle Material

Most saddles are crafted from leather. This is to ensure a long life for the saddle, regardless of the amount of usage. Using leather provides the rider with comfortable, yet flexible material that will yield to the horse’s movements. 


More recently, synthetic leather has been used to make saddles. This leather is lighter and easier to clean. However, being synthetic, the material does not last as long. And early synthetic saddles used nylon and bright colors, making it apparent that they are not true leather saddles.


When choosing a saddle, be sure to pick one that is high quality and durable. While synthetic leather may be an option, it’s best to have a saddle that is made from real leather. One that will last you and any adventures you may take on your horse.


Saddle Styles

Did you know there are different styles of saddles? The style of saddle typically depends on the activity or type of riding that the saddle is needed for. 


Traditional English style saddles are built and designed for dressage and show jumping. These saddles do not have a horn, the small piece that sits at the front of the saddle. Since most activities done in an English saddle don’t require roping, the horn is not needed. The horn is a hindrance for show jumping as well.


English saddles are also smaller and lighter. They are designed so the rider has a closer contact to the horse’s back. This helps them to aid the horse in direction and speed.


Contrary to the English saddle is the western style. This style has a horn at the top of the saddle. The horn is typically used to aid the rider with roping or getting onto the saddle. 


Western style saddles are heavier and have little contact with the horse’s back. This allows the weight of the rider to be spread out, making the ride more comfortable for the horse and the rider. 


Depending on the type of riding activity you choose, you will want to find the right style of saddle. While English style saddles are necessary for dressage and show jumping, Texas Saddlery builds western style saddles. It’s the new look of the old west.


New or Used

Do you want a new or used saddle? This may seem like a small consideration, but in reality it isn’t. 


Used saddles are of course cheaper because of the wear and tear on them. However, this may be a downfall to the saddle. It may be worn in areas that might be hard to fix, or not able to fix at all. Or it may not be the right fit for you in general.


Also, there is no “break-in” period with a used saddle. The leather may already be soft and pliable, making it easier to ride.


New saddles are of course more expensive. But they don’t have the wear on them and you can make sure they are the right fit for you. For both comfort and look.


So new or used, the choice is up to you!


Custom Saddles

An additional option to a new saddle, is getting a customized saddle. In this scenario, the saddle is completely customized to fit you and your needs. 


You can customize it based on size, of both you and the horse. If you need any additional bling or branding, you can do that with a custom saddle. 


The best news is that Texas Saddlery can make custom saddles!


Perfect Fit for You

It may not seem important to have a saddle that fits you, but it is. You want a saddle that is comfortable and rides well for you and the horse.


A saddle that is too small can cause a lot of discomfort. This includes bumping against the pommel with stride the horse takes. Which sounds terrible! A saddle that is too big will slide around on the horse's back, making it hard for you to maintain your balance and position on the horse.


A good way to measure to find that sweet spot, is if you can place your hand flat between you and the cantle of the saddle when seated in the lowest part of the seat.


Perfect Fit for Your Horse

Just as it is important to find a perfect fit for you, you need to find a perfect fit for the horse. If the saddle doesn’t fit right, it can cause the horse a lot of discomfort and make it harder for you to ride.


The width of the gullet is the main feature used to determine if a saddle fits a horse. Different breeds of horses have different backs and withers (the ridge between the shoulder blades). If a saddle is too big, meaning the width of the gullet is too big, it will press down on the horse’s withers. And if the gullet is too narrow, it will pinch. So you’ll want to find a saddle that is the right gullet width for the breed of horse you are riding.



Choosing and buying the right saddle can be a difficult task, but it’s important to find the right one. It’s not a decision you’ll want to rush. After all, you’ll want a saddle that will last you a long time and that is comfortable for you and the horse.

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