Decide on the type of saddle you want.,
Take your seat measurement.,
Determine your size in an English saddle.,
Determine your size in a western saddle.,
Check an english saddle for proper fit.,
Check a western saddle for proper fit.,
Check the stirrup length.,
Position the saddle.,
Check the gullet.,
Check the bar slope.,
Check the bar flare.,
Check the bar width.,
Test the girth.,
Pay attention to your horse’s response.
Before you consider purchasing a saddle, you need to make a firm decision on the specific type of riding you hope to do. There are two general categories of riding: english and western. English saddles come in traditional english, hunter, dressage, and jumper varieties. Western saddle options include traditional western, endurance, barrel racing, and roping styles.;
, The chair-like area of the saddle that you sit in is known as the ‘seat’. Seats come in a variety of sizes for the multiple body-types riders have. To measure your seat, sit in a chair with your back against the chair back and your feet on the floor. Use a soft measuring tape and measure the distance from your kneecap to the crease in your hip.
Your seat length should vary somewhere between 13-19-inches for an adult.
You can visit an online seat converter and enter in your physical attributes (weight, height, etc.) to get an immediate measurement instead of measuring yourself.
, Use your seat measurement to determine the seat size (and therefore the saddle size) of an English saddle. The measurement/size approximately equates as:
A leg/seat measurement of 16.5-inches or less equals a 15-inch saddle.
A leg/seat measurement of 16.5–18.5 inches (41.9–47.0 cm) equals a 16-inch saddle.
A leg/seat measurement of 18.5–20 inches (47.0–50.8 cm) equals a 16.5-inch saddle.
A leg/seat measurement of 20–21.5 inches (50.8–54.6 cm) equals a 17-inch saddle.
A leg/seat measurement of 21.5–23 inches (54.6–58.4 cm) equals a 17.5-inch saddle.
A leg/seat measurement larger than 23 inches (58.4 cm) will fit an 18-inch or 19-inch saddle., The measurement of seat is a bit different for western saddles than it is for English saddles. The easiest conversion is to subtract two inches from the size of your English saddle, and you’ll be left with the size of your western saddle. Use the following chart to determine your Western saddle size based on your leg/seat measurement:
A leg/seat measurement of 16.5-inches or less equals a 13-inch saddle.
A leg/seat measurement of 16.5–18.5 inches (41.9–47.0 cm) equals a 14-inch saddle.
A leg/seat measurement of 18.5–20 inches (47.0–50.8 cm) equals a 15-inch saddle.
A leg/seat measurement of 20–21.5 inches (50.8–54.6 cm) equals a 15.5-inch saddle.
A leg/seat measurement of 21.5–23 inches (54.6–58.4 cm) equals a 16-inch saddle.
A leg/seat measurement larger than 23 inches (58.4 cm) will fit an 17-inch or 18-inch saddle., To tell if your english saddle fits you, put it on a saw-horse or your horse and sit in it as you would for riding. You should be able to fit four fingers on the cantle behind your seat. If you can’t fit at least four fingers, the saddle is too small. If you can fit a whole hand or more flat against the cantle, the saddle is too big.
, Test the fit of a western saddle by sitting on it as you would for riding on either a saw-horse or your horse. A well-fitting saddle will allow three to four fingers to fit between the fork/swell and your thigh. If you can fit more than four fingers, the saddle is too large. If you can’t fit at least three fingers, the saddle is too small., Before you settle on a saddle, be sure that it offers the correct stirrup length for your body type. Although different styles require different stirrup lengths (jumpers use short stirrups, for example), you can get a ballpark idea of your stirrup length by standing to the side of the saddle, and pulling the stirrup up to your armpit. When the stirrup fits in the hollow of your armpit, it is close to the length you will require when riding.
, Place the prospective saddle on your horse’s back without a saddle pad or blanket. Move it so that it is in the accurate position: the front of the saddle should rest on the withers without blocking the shoulder and the back should go no further than the last rib bone. Move the saddle back and forth a few times to find the ‘sweet spot’.
, The gullet is the long empty space that runs length-wise along the spine of the horse. A proper fitting saddle will allow you to see all the way through the gullet when viewed from the back. You should be able to fit 2-3 fingers stacked on top of the withers inside the gullet, just below the fork/swell (western) or the pommel (english).
If you can’t fit at least 2 fingers in the gullet from the front, the saddle tree is too small for your horse and will pinch their spine.
If you can fit more than three fingers in the gullet from the front, then the saddle tree is too large and will cause rocking and saddle sores on your horse.
, The bars are the part of the saddle that form the gullet and hold the saddle on the horse’s back. The bars run along the length of the spine, and should be in contact with the entirety of the horse’s back if the saddle fits. If the bars are too straight, they will only meet with the withers and the croup of the horse’s back, causing briding. If the bars are too curved, they will touch only the center of the horse’s back and cause the saddle to rock in between the withers and the croup.
, The bars flare outwards at the front and back of the saddle to prevent chafing and rubbing while riding. If the saddle fits, the front of the saddle tree should flare out slightly. If the saddle is too small, there won’t be any bar flare evident and it will be very uncomfortable to your horse.
, Some horses are very wide across their backs, while others are very narrow. To tell if the saddle fits your horse’s back size, see where the bars sit. If they rest very high up, almost on top of the spine, then the saddle is too narrow. If the bars slide down very far past the spine, then the saddle is too wide.
The bar width is closely related to the gullet clearance; a too-narrow bar width will cause a larger gullet space while a too-wide bar width will cause little to no gullet clearance., When you get the girth tightened on your horse, you should be able to fit four fingers side-by-side between the front of the girth and your horse’s shoulders. An ill-fitting saddle may cause the girth to fall forwards or slide backwards.
, Throughout the saddle testing/fitting process, keep an eye on your horse. If the saddle isn’t the right size or uncomfortable, your horse will show it in their body language.