The Best Western Saddle Buying Guide

Choosing the right western saddle for you can be a difficult task. There are literally hundreds of different choices, and most people are not as knowledgeable as they think when it comes to choosing a saddle.

These tips for buying a western saddle will help narrow your decision process so that you can buy the best one for you.

Do you know which saddle option you are looking for? I would first recommend looking at our saddle choice article that helps you understand:

  • How you plan to use the saddle.
  • Your horse.
  • The fit of the rider.
  • Budget concerns.
  • Your own preferences.

Another thing to keep in mind is the option of custom made saddles.

Once you are ready and know what you want in the above suggestions, read on!

riding a horse

Choosing From Different Saddle Brands And Price Ranges

Just like anything else, different brands have different prices. However, sometimes, you cannot rely on knowing quality just by choosing a popular brand. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • A brand may have a number of different price levels of saddles which vary in quality.
  • A specific brand may have changed their process over the years resulting in either a higher quality or lower quality saddle.

You can check out this article on saddle brands which can give you an idea on what each brand offers. But, if a brand name is not a good indicator of quality, what is?

Personally, I recommend going by price. If possible, stay away from anything under $500 and maybe even try to get up to $1000 as a budget. It can get expensive but think about it this way – you want something that is:

  • Well built so that it is safe.
  • Comfortable for the horse.
  • Comfortable for the rider.

I always find it interesting when I see a rider pull up in a big fancy truck and trailer but can’t spring for a quality saddle. Get a good saddle!

The other way to look at it is that a more expensive saddle will last longer and may even save you money in the long run. Buy quality and you only have to buy it once.

Cheap saddles can also be hard on your horse and taking care of your horse should be one of your top priorities.

Choosing Between New Or Used Saddles

Unfortunately, not everyone has a big budget for a fancy brand new saddle. One good way to save a bit of money while still getting a quality saddle is to look at buying used.

Advantages Of Buying A Used Saddle

  • More bang for your buck! You may even be able to score a Mecum, Capriola, or McCall at a fraction of a new price. You just have to look around for those deals.
  • You usually can try out a number of different saddles from the used market.
  • You typically can get a great deal on a saddle from a top brand which can last for the rest of your riding life.

Disadvantages Of Buying A Used Saddle

  • Used saddles will have the wear and tear of a few years on them and have been used by a variety of riders and horses. So, depending on who the previous owner was and what they used it for, it can have some wear on it or less than a brand new saddle. It may appear to you that the used saddle is just in average condition but a good saddler can recondition a used saddle making it look like new.
  • You have to know what to look for when inspecting a saddle to buy. Beginners can risk getting a bad saddle this way.

Advantages Of Buying A New Saddle

  • Order exactly what you want to your specifications.
  • Most will offer some kind of warranty.
  • It’s new so it should mold with your body shape.

Disadvantages Of Buying A New Saddle

  • Higher price.

putting a saddle on a horse

Should You Buy A Saddle Online Or Local?

This really depends on the person and what is available to you in your local area.

Some people only have the internet as an option to buy a saddle. Unfortunately, this means that you will not physically see it before you buy. however, most online stores have excellent return policies if the saddle does not match you when it arrives.

Also, these days, internet stores have online chat functions that give you the option of asking a lot of questions to the staff before buying. Look for stores with a lot of images, measurement specs, video, etc. if you plan to buy online.

Personally, I prefer shopping at a local store so I can see the saddle, ask questions to the staff, etc.

What About Returns and Trying Before Buying?

When you go to a local shop, most will let you return a saddle (within a reasonable amount of time). Some online shops may do this as well. I would recommend checking on this when you are ready to purchase.

These are some of the most common guidelines that I have seen:

  • Custom, sale items, and special order saddles may not quality for the return policy.
  • Most will ask you to pay for the saddle before fitting it on the horse, but different shops might allow you to try it on your horse before paying.
  • Most return policies last for around 3 days.
  • If you are planning to return a saddle, it will need to be in the same new condition as when you bought it. They usually will not allow a return of a saddle that has been scratched, scuffed, or dirty. Because if this, you will want to be very careful with it in the beginning when you are deciding if it will work for you and your horse.
  • Find out if there is a restocking fee. I’ve seen fees at around 5%-15%.
  • If you bought online and want to return it, you will probably be responsible for shipping costs.


Whether you are buying at a local shop or online, you will want to do some research first so you have an idea of how the saddles work before you purchase one. This will save you a lot of money and heartbreak down the road if you end up not liking the saddle you purchased. Also, take care with the saddle when you get it so that it will last you a long time! Best of luck and if you have any other questions feel free to ask!