How To Saddle A Horse

Your saddling technique will have a big impact on how your horse reacts to being saddled and ridden. Approach your horse with tenderness and good technique if you want a cooperative partner.

Here are precise, step-by-step directions with images for saddling your horse in such a way that he will not flee in the opposite direction when he sees you approaching.

Which side are you on?

Horses have always been handled from the near (left) side. The majority of people nowadays lead, saddle, and mount their horses from the near side.


This custom extends back to the early mounted warriors who fought with long swords. Mounting from the left side was the only viable option because the sword was most typically worn on the left side by right-handed riders. The ritual has survived for thousands of years. As a result, today’s horses are predominantly “left-handed.” When handled from the wrong (right) side, they may become confused or terrified. Both the horse and the rider may (and should) become ambidextrous with adequate training.

How To Saddle A Horse Step By Step

  1. Take care of your horse.  While it is desirable to groom your horse thoroughly before each ride, at the very least, groom the region where the saddle will rest.
    Check for sores and make sure there is no mud or other debris in the saddle area.
  2. Check your cinches, saddle, and pad. Check the underside of your pad, saddle, and cinches for burs, dirt, straw, or anything else that could cause irritation or saddle sores.
  3. Set the saddle pad in place. Place the saddle pad forward of the withers on the horse’s back. The pad and saddle will be slid backward into place after being positioned forward of the ultimate position. This will ensure that the hairs grow in the correct direction.
  4. Get your saddle ready. The quantity of straps on a western saddle can make saddling difficult. Make sure all of the straps are secure before putting a saddle on a horse. While some people just put the straps over the seat, we recommend that you secure each strap as instructed below. Make this a habit every time you dismount, and your gear will be spotless and ready for the next adventure.
    • Latigo – Tie a tidy knot in the latigo. We prefer to tie a traditional cinch knot.
    • Cinches — As illustrated in Photo 3, hang your flank cinch buckle on the buckle tongue of your front cinch buckle. Thread the saddle keeper under the cinch buckle and hook it on the buckle tongue. The cinches are now firmly and neatly hung.
    • Stirrups – Some riders will loop their off-side stirrup over the horn or, if it is long enough and supple, over the seat. This is unnecessary in our opinion, and it can even cause problems if the stirrup comes down during saddling. The off stirrup is left down in our saddling procedure, as indicated in Step 5.
    • Breast Collar – Position the breast collar over the saddle’s seat. Another option is to wrap the snap of the breast collar’s near side end around the off-side stirrup.
  5. Set up the saddle. There are several methods for securing a saddle on a horse. This is less of a concern if you are tall and muscular. Saddling a western saddle, especially a hefty leather one, can be a genuine difficulty for the shorter and weaker. We will teach you a technique that will make it bearable for even the shortest and weakest of us.
    • Place your hand on the horse’s shoulder. With your right hand on the off side of the cantle and your left hand on the near side at the base of the fork, hold the saddle on your right hip.
    • Place your feet shoulder width apart, with your left foot front towards the front hoof of the horse and your right foot slightly behind it.
    • Gather some momentum by rocking your body back and forth three times. Return to the third rock by pivoting so that your belly button is facing the horse and swinging the saddle up over his back with your right arm. Consider it as a hug for the horse. If you are really short and weak, just get the off-side stirrup over your spine and then push the remainder of the saddle over.
  6. Adjust the saddle and pad as necessary. By holding the horn and jiggling the saddle from side to side and back, you can slide the saddle and pad backwards into position.
    It should fall into place correctly. As a general rule, the correct spot will allow no more than three finger widths between the horse’s elbow and the front cinch. Once the saddle is in place, use your left hand to raise the pad up into the gullet and your right hand to grip the horn.This will keep the pad from bunching up and pressing against the withers. The saddle should be centered on the pad, with equal amounts of material showing on both sides. At least an inch should be visible in front of the saddle. Make sure there are no saddle threads caught behind the saddle.
  7. Join the cinches together. Gently let down your cinches as you walk around to the opposite side. If you have a breast collar, you can remove it. Return to the near side of the room and loosen your latigo strap. With your left hand, go beneath the horse’s belly and grab the front cinch. If the horse kicks or moves suddenly, using your left hand instead of your right puts you in a safer position.
    How To Tie A Western Cinch explains how to connect the front cinch. If you have a flank cinch, you can connect it after the front cinch is connected. With your left hand, go beneath the horse’s belly and grab the flank cinch. Adjust the flank cinch to be snug but not too tight. Only your hand should be able to fit between the horse’s belly and the cinch. As instructed in How To Tie A Western Cinch, tighten the front cinch in phases.
  8. Join the breast collars together. Reach around to the breast collar that was let down in the previous step from the near side. Connect the near side rig (or tug) strap to the front rigging rings or the dee ring on the skirts. It should go without saying that the rig straps must be connected to the same rings on both sides. Connect the central tie-down strap to the front dee ring on the center strip of the cinch by feeding it between the horse’s legs.When riding with a breast collar, it is critical that the cinch’s center strip lands in the center of the horse’s belly. The breast collar will be less effective if it is off center, and the breast collar tie-down strap will rub on the inside of the horse’s leg.
  9. Extend the front legs of the horse. Hold each leg above the knee. Raise the leg in front of you and bend the knee. This will extend the horse’s belly and remove any skin folds that may have become caught beneath the cinch. This is an excellent way to avoid cinch sores, also known as galls.

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