When choosing a saddle, people need to decide if they need a Western or English style saddle. Both of these saddles are unique in style, as is the riding style that accompanies them. Each style of saddle is designed to suit the demands of each riding style, so when choosing a saddle, the rider needs to take into consideration the style and intensity of the type of riding they will be doing.
The Western saddle is comprised of a basic style which has many variations and shapes. This type of saddle is adorned with the characteristic horn on the front part of the saddle. In addition the seat is deep in the saddle and the cantle is high, which makes up the saddle back. This type of saddle is equipped with a unique saddle skirt and long stirrups, which are often very intricate and carved. Choosing a saddle of the Western type may be a challenge because of the large variety of shapes and sizes that are available. Although the look may be a deciding factor when choosing a saddle, the quality of the saddle is more important, not only for the rider, but also for the horse. A supreme quality saddle offers both rider and mount a smooth, comfortable ride.
By contrast, the English saddle is lighter than the Western saddle and the style is more simple. In addition, when choosing a saddle of the English type, it is important to note that the seat is flatter and the horn is absent. Also, the cantle is thin and lower than it is on the Western saddle. The flaps are close to the body of the horse and the stirrups have minimal style, as opposed to the ornate style of the Western type stirrup. Different types of the English saddle include dressage, show and hunt. The rider should keep these types in mind when choosing a saddle, because they type of saddle that is chosen will depend on which of these seats is preferred. If the rider chooses a show or dressage saddle, they must meet requirements if competing. Another type of saddle that is referred to as an endurance saddle has features of the Western and English saddle combined.
Whichever type the rider decides upon when choosing a saddle, the most important factor is that it properly fits the horse. An ill fitting saddle may cause saddle sores and may even cause the horse to fear or avoid being ridden. Proper measurements must be taken to ensure a proper fit, and it may be wise to bring the horse along, if possible to try the saddle on. In addition, not only does a poor fitting saddle have detrimental effects for the horse, it can also be extremely dangerous to the rider. A saddle that does not fit correctly may slip and cause the rider to lose their balance and fall. The consumer should never choose a saddle just based on appearance. Even a slightly “off” fit can have devastating effects for both rider and horse. The horse nor rider will not “adjust” to a poor fitting saddle, so it is necessary that the saddle fit properly from the beginning.
When choosing a saddle, the rider must keep in mind, that when a horse receives a new saddle, he may be a little uneasy at first. It may take him a while before he accepts the saddle and adjusts to the newness. However, if the horse does not take to the saddle, even after an appropriate breaking in period, it is best to exchange it for one that he will accept. Sometimes, even when the saddle fits properly, a horse will not accept, nor tolerate a new saddle. In these cases, trial and error may prove prudent to ensure the horse’s comfort. These factors should always be kept in mind when choosing a saddle, as a great choice makes for a happy horse and subsequent happy rider.