Shopping for the right saddle is an exciting endeavor.
That being said, unless you know what you’re looking for, this task has the potential to be exasperating.
With hundreds of different types available, the first step to finding the right one for you is to know exactly what you need and want, not only for you, but also for your horse.
Over the past decade or so, equestrian professionals have discovered just how much saddle fit effects both horse and rider. As a result, today saddles are made in a wide variety of sizes to accommodate the needs of both horse and rider. When shopping around, it’s important to take the following measurements into consideration:
- Tree size: The tree size is the trait that will have the biggest influence on how a saddle fits your horses. Typically, tree sizes include narrow, medium, medium-wide, wide, and extra-wide. While different brands of saddles often suggest different ways of measuring your horse to determine tree size, most of the time it’s best to have a professional saddle fitter assist you.
- Seat size: Choosing the correct seat size will help ensure that the saddle fits you and puts you in the best position possible. Seat sizes often range from 15” to 19”. In most cases, the average adult will need between a 17” to 18” seat size. That being said, the size needed often varies by individual and can have a wide array of influencing, including height and body type. A saddle is measured from the cantle to the pommel to determine the number of inches it is.
What You Need for English Riding
Once you figure out what size both you and your horse need, the next step is to decide on the style. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of saddle types available to suit any English riding style.
- Dressage: Put together with a deep seat and straight cut flaps, dressage saddles are designed with the effectiveness of the rider in mind. Keep in mind though that while they are fantastic for flatwork, they are not designed for lots of galloping or jumping.
- All-purpose saddles: Like their name suggests, these are designed to be able to accommodate riders who are both riding on the flat and jumping. Because of this, all-purpose saddles are typically made with a slightly deeper seat and shorter flaps to allow the rider to get in the correct position for both flatwork and jumping.
- Close-contact saddles: Close-contact saddles are specially designed for jumping. Like their name suggests, they allow the rider to feel very close to the horse. Most close-contact saddles will also have small knee and or thigh blocks to help keep the rider in position while jumping.
Making the Right Decision
When trying to decide on the type of saddle that best fits both you and your horse, the most important aspect to take into consideration is the type and level of riding that you plan on doing.
For example, if you primarily plan on riding on the flat, a dressage saddle would be the best match.
On the other hand, if your focus is more on jumping, a type of close-contact saddle is a better choice.
In addition to the type of riding you plan on doing, the other vital thing to take into consideration is how different brands of saddles fit both you and your horse.