Choosing a Western Saddle

Do you find the prospect of selecting a western saddle overwhelming? There are numerous styles to choose from, each with its own set of settings and features. While having options is beneficial, it can sometimes be daunting. How do you choose the correct saddle for you?

The following information will assist you in making the numerous selections necessary before purchasing a western saddle. After you have decided on a saddle, check out the Saddle Buying Guide for buying advice.

Choosing A Western Saddle

Intended Application

The first step in selecting a western saddle is determining the sort of saddle you require. This will be determined primarily by the activities in which you and your horse will engage. Saddles are available for almost every type of horseback activity.  The saddle is put to varying stresses depending on the activity. A roping saddle features two riggings and a horn that is large and well-anchored. These will allow you to dally or rope a cow to it. A trail saddle has a smaller horn and is lighter. The front hung stirrups of a reining saddle help the rider to sit back and deep during fast starts and stops.

It is not required to have a distinct saddle for each activity you engage in. However, if you engage in any one activity on a regular basis, having a saddle built for that activity will make things easier for both you and your horse. If you wanted to win a barrel race, you would not ride with a hefty roping saddle. You would not dally a cow to your show saddle unless you wanted to fall off your horse head-over-heels.

The Ranch saddle is a fantastic choice if you are seeking for the most adaptable of all western saddles. It is grown popular as a ranch or general-purpose saddle.

Fitting The Horse

It is critical that you select a saddle that is appropriate for your horse. Horses with ill-fitting saddles have health and training issues. A bad saddle fit can often be traced back to a behavior problem with your horse. Do not you get irritable when you are uncomfortable?

However, looking for the “ideal” saddle or having one made just for one horse is not the solution. It is similar to looking for the Holy Grail. There is no such thing as a “ideal” saddle.
Horses evolve during the course of their lives, and even year to year. Have the “ideal” saddle manufactured, and it is no longer “perfect” after a few years. Unless your horse has extraordinary physical traits (such as very high or no withers), finding a western saddle that fits your horse is not difficult. The breed (Quarter Horse, Thoroughbred, Arabian, etc. ), overall size, and other physical characteristics are also aspects to consider. A saddle that comfortably clears a horse’s withers, allows for free shoulder mobility, and is balanced to offer adequate weight distribution is what you desire. This issue is covered in further depth in our Saddle Fit section.

Most respectable saddle stores (including those online) will allow you to test the saddle on your horse for a length of time. Returning a saddle, however, normally incurs a restocking fee, and the saddle must be in fresh condition.

Rider Comfort

If your horse is relaxed but you are not, you will be the one who is irritable. A saddle that does not fit you will not only be uncomfortable, but it will also prevent you from riding in the proper position. The greatest recommendation is to try out as many saddles as possible. Do not miss out on the chance to check out a saddle in a saddle shop or on a horse using a friend’s saddle. You will start to realise which saddles are the most comfortable for you and put you in the optimum riding position. It feels like an old glove when you are in a saddle that fits you well. Everything is the correct size and placement.

Your impression of comfort is influenced by seat size and angle, stirrup position, cantle height, fork height and angle, and weight. More information on rider fit can be found in our Saddle Fit section.


Saddles can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands. What should your budget be? As much as your budget allows. Saddles are essential for both safety and comfort while riding. You should never accept a subpar product. The higher-priced saddle is, for the most part, a better-made product. The high quality of leather and the craftsmanship expertise come at a cost. You can save money by omitting features and pricey extras (such as tooled or stamped leather, silver, and so on), but saddles are one product where you receive exactly what you pay for.

We recommend sticking to the well-known saddle brands. While a name brand is not a guarantee of quality, you will be in far better shape than with most off-brand or no-name saddles. This table shows the many saddle brands and their pricing ranges. The good news is that a well-made saddle can last a lifetime…and even longer! As a result, the used saddle market is thriving. Many good saddle shops have used saddles in stock, and there is a sizable used saddle industry online. Purchasing a used saddle is an excellent method to save money while still getting a high-quality piece of equipment. Quality used saddles should definitely be considered when purchasing a western saddle especially if you are buying your first saddle as a beginner.

Always inspect a used saddle thoroughly to verify it is in good working order. Is the leather supple and soft? Is the fleece on the underside in good condition? Are all of the components present? Is the saddle tree in good condition? Set the saddle on the fork, nose down, to inspect a tree. Look for bending, which indicates a broken tree, by pressing down hard on the cantle.

Individual Preferences

The issue of your own preferences comes last on the list of variables to consider when purchasing a western saddle. The good news is that, with so many alternatives available, you can still include your particular tastes into your saddle selection. Tooling/stamping, leather color, silver, rigging, skirt form, stirrups, and seat style are just a few of the features and options available. This is where a saddle truly becomes yours.

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