Most people that are looking to buy a horse might look for a deal in equipment. Some breeders or sellers will include all riding equipment with the horse. This could be a good or bad thing. If you are going to use this used equipment, especially the saddle, make sure that it is good quality and it fits your and your horse’s comfort needs. If it does not, you may need to purchase a new saddle to make your ride even better.
Before purchasing your new saddle, you must keep in mind that they are very expensive. Actually, they could be the most expensive accessory that you will buy for your horse. Because of this, you need to be especially careful about choosing the one that is right for you and your horse. Before you start shopping around, go in knowing what type of style, material and fit you are looking for. Also, weigh the options of a used verses a new saddle.
The type of sport that you participate in will determine which type of saddle style you will require. Different types of sport will include show jumping, saddleseat, pleasure and dressage. Each of these will boast a different type of saddle. Let’s start with the basics. English or Western?
Western saddles were first designed for cowboys who worked long days on a horse’s back driving cattle.
Although it is heavy, the weight of both the rider and saddle are spread evenly over the horse’s back. The stirrups provide comfort and security to the rider. The horn, also a distinct characteristic of the western saddle is not used for balanced support, as thought by most beginners, but was actually designed to aid the rider when working cattle. Another myth is that all western saddles look alike. This is not true. There are different types of western saddles that are suited more for pleasure or roping. You could use the same saddle for both of these activities, although, each saddle is designed to be more practical for certain things.
English saddles bring the rider closer to the horses back and is much lighter than the western style. Just like Western, English boasts different types of saddles, each suited for different activities. Long, straight flaps and a deep seat are more suited for dressage. A more shallow seat is better suited for jumping. There is an all purpose English saddle for those who like to practice dressage and jumping. All-purpose saddles are usually purchased by those that compete at a lower level in all three types of eventing or by those that are not financially ready to purchase two types of English saddles.
While English and Western style saddles may be the most common, there is also the Land Fox saddle. The Lane Fox saddle is used in Saddleseat. It is designed to show off the horse’s shoulders and its actions.
Another decision to make when choosing your saddle is the material. Do you want leather or synthetic? Synthetic saddles have come a long way from their bright colors and nylon fabric to synthetic leather and suede material. They are now acceptable for showing and look like a traditional saddle. One advantage to a synthetic saddle is that they are lightweight and very easy to clean. They come in both English and Western and can still be found in those bright colors if you wish!
Leather, of course, is the traditional choice. Be careful though, some of these saddles could look nice but be made from poor quality materials. Always pay attention to the quality leather, stitching and fittings.
Make sure when purchasing your saddle that it fits your horse properly. If it does not fit the horse, it can cause health and training problems. You also have to make sure it fits you. If not, it can cause very uncomfortable rides. When fitting a saddle to your horse, make sure the width of the gullet is right. If it is too wide, the saddle will press on the withers. If it is too narrow, the saddle will pinch. Also, if a saddle does not sit level, will put pressure on your horse and make it hard for you to maintain position. When fitting your saddle to you, make sure it is sized properly. A saddle that is too small will cause you to bump against the pommel. One that is too large will cause you to shift around constantly as you try to maintain your position.
Lastly, when buying your saddle, figure out if it is best to buy used or new. If you are just starting out, and trying not to break the bank, you might look into purchasing a used saddle. An advantage to buying used is that it will already be broken in and ready for use. Just make sure you check the condition of the leather. A more professional rider, or someone who has been in the horse world for quite some time might wish to purchase a brand new saddle.