Tips for Choosing the Right Size Western Saddle for Your Horse
The size of the saddle on your horse is extremely important for the rider and the animal. The rider will have more comfort, the ability to move, and control with a saddle that fits correctly. It’s imperative to prevent severe pain and injuries to the horse that you fit well in the western saddle correctly to both the horse and the rider before riding if you would like to make it beneficial and safe for both parties.
Here are some tips for choosing the right size western saddle for your horse.
How do you fit the saddle to the rider successfully?
Safety is the number one priority when sizing a western saddle for a horse. You are talking about the safety of the horse and the rider. There is a quick and easy way to measure the saddle. Start the measuring process from the back of the horn all the way to the top of the cantle.
It will range in size from around 12 to 18 inches in total. When you sit on the western saddle, you should comfortably be able to place two to three fingers between you and the fork of the saddle. There should be four to five fingers of space behind you in the seat. The finger space should be from behind you to the top of the cantle.
Western saddles have a variety of widths for the many different sized riders there are. There are slender saddles that are perfect for the more slender riders. If you are on the thicker side, you will be able to find a larger saddle that fits your body type. It will be wider than the slender saddle to give you more space in the saddle for added comfort.
How do you find the right size saddle for your horse?
The first thing you must do is figure out what tree size will fit your horse comfortably. That will only lead to another question. What is the tree on the saddle? The tree is the base of the saddle that sits on the back of the horse. The tree must fit the horse correctly to prevent discomfort and injuries.
How do the horse withers or shoulders look to you? Are the withers rounded or more flat-looking? Do they look more defined to you? These factors in appearance will help to determine the correct tree size for the horse.
If your horse has narrow withers, you can always add blankets to fill the space and add a little cushion for its back to handle the weight of the saddle. The measuring process is the same to see if the tree fits correctly. You should have a space big enough to place two or three fingers between the gullet and the withers.
If you notice that the finger space is much larger than around two or three fingers, then you have a tree that is too narrow for your horse. If there is only a size gap of one finger, then your tree is too large for your horse. You will need to make the proper adjustments to make the tree fit the horse correctly.
It is incredibly important to make sure that the bars on the tree are strategically-positioned to the right angles on the horse. The bars are in control of balancing your body-weight and distributing it correctly over its back. If you do not position the bars correctly, you could severely injure the horse and the rider.
Is there a difference in gaited horses?
What is a gaited horse? These horse breeds are different than other breeds of horses from to the smoothness of their gaits. The gaited horses will need a specially designed tree to give them the room for maximum movement.
The gullet is higher on the saddles for these breeds to have more movement space in their withers. The bars on the tree provide the main source of support for the back of the horse. The front bars have a flare to them for the additional movement space, while the back of the horse has bars that have a curve to them. It conforms to the complete back of the horse for maximum support.
Finding the right saddle for your horse is not all about the keen fashion sense. It is more safety, stability, and comfort. No one wants to spend hours on the back of a horse if the saddle is uncomfortable. Depending on the terrain could end up giving you a sore back by the end of the day.
If you think that the saddle is ultimately uncomfortable, can you only imagine what your horse is thinking or feeling after an eight-hour workday?
The western saddle was designed to make the workday of the rancher much easier. It gave the rancher the stability to neck reign the horse. When you neck reign the horse, it leaves your dominant hand and arms free to open gates or do other tasks.
This was very important to the cowboys back in the day. They would spend all day roping cattle, herding sheep, and more while riding their horse. There are many days where the rancher spends 8 or more hours on the back of a horse.
When you pause to think of how long you stay in a saddle, for the most part, you will begin to understand the importance of having the right size for the horse and the rider. You do not want to force an animal to carry someone around for that many hours without the proper safety equipment to distribute the weight evenly.
If you want to add a blanket for a layer of padding, your horse will not complain. They work just as hard as you do, and they deserve some of the little comforts in life. Your horse will have a better attitude, work harder, and thrive in health when you give them a little extra tender loving care also known as padding. You will be a lot more comfortable on your saddle knowing that you are not causing any harm to your horse.