How To Determine Western Saddle Seat Size

Do you know what the right sized saddle is right for you? Unfortunately, it is hard to just give an answer because it really depends. There is a small amount of work involved to answer this question.

Proper Saddle Fit Rules

  • Rule 1 – A western saddle seat size is determined by the fit for the rider, not the horse.
  • Rule 2 – A properly fitted saddle should have around four inches between the fork (or swells) and your body.
  • Rule 3 – Your buttox needs to rest at the base of the cantle and not against the back of the cantle.
  • Rule 4 – A saddle that is a bit too big is better than a saddle that is a bit too small.

General Western Saddle Sizes

Western saddles typically include an assigned seat size. this seat size is the measurement in inches between the top middle of the cantle and the base of the horn. For example, you may find a 14 inch barrel racing saddle that fits well but you also find that a 15 inch ranch saddle does as well.  Here are some general sizes that you will usually see:

Saddel Size Chart

  • Youth – 12-13 inches
  • Small Adult – 14 inches
  • Average Adult – 15 inches
  • Large Adult – 16 inches
  • Extra Large Adult – 17 inches

How to Measure a Saddle Seat

saddle seat sizeThis may seem as easy as just measuring the distance between the horn and cantle, but there is a lot more too it than that. There are more measurements that you need to keep in mind as well:

  • Seat Depth – saddles can either have a deep seat which will give you more security in the saddle or they may have a more shallow seat to allow more movement while riding.
  • Seat Slope – seat slopes can range from relatively flat to steep.
  • Cantle Slope – some are high and straight, while others can be more steep.
  • Cantle Dish – some cantles can range from flat, recessed or dished in the front.
  • Fork Style – some fork styles can range from wide swells to little swell at all.
  • Fork Angle – some forks are angled and others have no angle at all.

The combination of all these attributes impacts the fit of a saddle for a rider. Because of this, the best way to measure a saddle seat is to start with the illustrated measurement diagram and then sit on a lot of different saddles to find the right one.


When choosing a saddle, it is really important to take into consideration your own riding style as well as the shape of your leg, your shape and the type of riding that you do. Don’t settle for a saddle that doesn’t fit you because you think it is what everyone else rides in.

Instead, do your own test ride and try out different saddles until you find the one that is right for you and your horse.

Looking for more instructional articles on saddles?

Leave a Comment