It’s Time to Ride: How to Put a Saddle on a Horse

While it might seem like a straightforward process, putting a saddle on a horse is not always easy. A cooperative horse and a knowledgeable rider undoubtedly help the process. Knowing the steps to take while putting a saddle on a horse will help riders to be prepared, so they will not be so nervous. This guide will help new riders learn how to put a saddle on a horse.

Why Should You Ride on a Saddle?

Yes, some riders prefer bareback riding, but it is important to note this is not the best method of riding a horse. The primary reason riders use a saddle with their horses is better control. The saddle provides an anchor for the stirrups, and stirrups help keep riders in control of their horses.

Safety is also an important reason for using a saddle. Saddles place riders in safer positions and help them to hold on and maintain control throughout a ride. This is important for the prevention of falls and serious injuries.

Finally, saddles should also be worn for comfort. Riding bareback places pressure on both the horse and rider. Undue pressure on a horse’s spine can lead to serious injuries and pain.

Steps for Putting a Saddle on a Horse

The good news for riders is, it does not matter if you prefer using an English or Western saddle because they both go on the horse in the same way. The only difference is the cinch. Follow these steps to make sure you know how to saddle a horse easily.

Put a Saddle on a Horse
  • Make sure to brush your horse before attempting to saddle it. Brush the horse’s back and girth thoroughly. Sponge away any dirt and make sure the hair lies flat.
  • It is important to put the blanket or saddle in place before putting the saddle on. English saddle blankets must be folded while Western saddle blankets do not need to be folded.
  • You can put a saddle in place from the left or right side of the horse. Traditionally, riders approach the horse from the left side when putting a saddle in place.
  • Now, you will need to lift the saddle high enough so as not to hit the horse. Some saddles are heavier than others, so be careful and ask for assistance if needed.
  • When putting the saddle in place, put it slightly forward and then gently settle it back. Never slam the saddle too hard or drop it on the horse’s back because this could lead to injuries. This can also cause a condition called “cold backed” where a horse refuses to let a rider saddle them or they become overly spooked.
  • Next, walk around to both sides of the horse and make sure it is sitting correctly and the blanket or pad have not slipped or become bunched or folded. If there are any wrinkles or folds in the blanket or pad, they can cause raw places to develop on the horse’s skin and could also make them misbehave on a ride.
  • Move to the side and make sure to carefully pick up the cinch or strap. Buckle the girth or tie up the cinch loosely. If you do this too suddenly or too tightly, the horse could buck up and kick. They could also take off and run. Make sure the girth or cinch is not overly tightened. If it is too tight, the horse may not be able to breathe and could be in pain.
  • Check from the front and lift each leg of the horse to make sure the girth does not loosen. If you need to adjust the girth, do so at this time.


If you have purchased the right saddle and know how to put it in place correctly, you and your horse should remain comfortable throughout the ride.

With this guide, you should now be much more comfortable putting your horse’s saddle in place. Although it will take practice, you will eventually grow comfortable in being able to put the saddle on your horse without being so nervous.

No matter how comfortable you feel about putting on a saddle, never rush the process. Rushing will only lead to an increased chance of making mistakes.

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