Saddles Equine Science I
Saddles • Two Basic Types • Western • Eastern (English)
Basics of Western Saddles • Most Western saddles are produced in the United States • Unlike English saddles, a good basic Western saddle can be used for many rent activities. • The MOST important thing with any Western saddle is that it fit the equine properly across the withers. One should be able to insert two fingers between the fork of the saddle and the equine’s withers with the saddle cinch girth drawn tight on a properly fitting Western saddle.
Examples of Western Saddles • General purpose saddles weigh 30-35 pounds and are the most common saddles ideally suited for pleasure and trail riding. • Pleasure/trail riding saddles as they are often called are designed for one primary purpose: comfort of the rider.
Roping Saddles • Roping saddles weigh 38-55 pounds and are large, heavy duty saddles with a large horn useful for stock work.
Western Pleasure Saddles • Equitation (Western Pleasure) saddles are saddles with heavy ornamentation used for shows and parades. This saddle is usually quite heavy.
Bronc Saddles • Bronc saddles are designed to allow the rider freedom of movement necessary for bucking horses in rodeos.
Bareback Saddles • Bareback rigs are sturdy pieces of leather often used in the place of bronc saddles that feature a “handhold” without the use of stirrups.
Endurance Saddles • Endurance saddles are very light weight saddles usually made of synthetic material to provide comfort for the horse and rider over long distances.
Other Western Saddles • Other western saddles include the Reining, Cutting, and Barrel Racing saddles designed for specific task
Parts of the Western Saddle • The tree of a western saddle is also called the frame because it provides the structure of the • saddle. • The tree (frame) may be wood, aluminum, steel or fiber glass that has leather, suede or some other suitable material wrapped over it. • The tree consists of the fork, horn, bars and cantle.
Basic Parts of the Western Saddle • The bars provide support and shape the saddle to the horse’s back. • The fork forms the front of the saddle seat that supports the pommel, horn, and includes the gullet and swells. • The gullet is the space formed by shaping the fork and helps the saddle fit to the shape of the equine’s back. • The swells are the area on either side of the horn mount.
Pommel and Cantle • The pommel is the front part of the saddle that consists of a horn of varying size useful in roping or for holding on. • The cantle is the back part of the seat which helps the rider maintain a “deep seat.”
Saddle Fittings • Fittings for the western saddle (may or may not be sold with the saddle) • The stirrups assist the rider in mounting and dismounting and help the rider maintain balance while riding. • Stirrup leathers attach the stirrups to the bars of the saddle and allow for the stirrup height to be adjusted.
Saddle Girth • The girth goes underneath the horse’s belly and is used to hold the saddle on the horse. • The girth is also called the cinch on Western saddles. • Western saddles have a front and flank (rear) girth.
Girth Material • Girths are made of various materials such as leather, vinyl, webbed nylon cord, mohair, cotton, synthetic fleece, etc. • Front girths are frequently made of chincha cord. Chincha cord is pure cotton, pure mohair, or a combination of rayon and mohair. • Rear girths are also called the flank girth or cinch. Rear cinches are usually made of leather.
Billets • Billet straps are used to attach the girth (cinch) for the “Dee” rings of the saddle. (Western saddles have three billets on each side.)
Saddle Pads • The saddle pad (blanket) protects the equine’s back, absorbs sweat and moisture, protects the saddle, and helps the saddle fit better. • Traditional size is 30" x 60" • There are many types of material including sheepskin, blended fiber, Navajo “wool” blankets, cotton, etc.
English Saddle • Two basic Types of English Saddles • Saddle Seat Saddles • Hunter, or Forward-Sead Saddles
Saddle Seat Saddles • Saddle seat saddles have a relatively flat seat that places the rider well behind the withers and just behind the center of the horse. • Riders use these saddles on the “flat”, which means they do not use them for jumping. • Saddle seat saddles are used in the show ring and most often for riding “single-foot” or gaited breeds and Arabians.
Saddle Seat Saddles • Many are called “cut-back” saddles because the pommel or head is usually cut back to accommodate the high withers and show off the animated action and arched neck of gaited horses such as American saddle bred and Tennessee walkers.
Hunter Saddles • More popular with United States riders. • This saddle is used by hunters and jumpers because it is designed to eliminate rider interference with the horse when jumping. • Used with Quarter horses, Thoroughbreds, the Warmblood breeds, Paints, Appaloosas and others
Hunt Saddles- All Purpose • The MOST popular Hunt seat saddle is the All-purpose saddle. • This saddle is a good beginning saddle because it can be used for many different riding activities such as eventing, equitation, pleasure, and trail riding.
Hunt Saddles- Close Contact • The Close contact saddle is a Hunt seat saddle used for jumping. • It is very seldom used for equitation or flat work. • This saddle allows close contact with the equine so that the rider may have maximum control.
Hunt Saddle- Dressage • The dressage saddle is a Hunt seat saddle that is a cross between the forward and saddle-seat saddle designed specifically for dressage events so that the rider’s legs has maximum side contact with the horse.
Hunt Saddle- Racing & Polo • The racing saddle is an extremely lightweight Hunt seat saddle (1 1/2 pounds without stirrups) used by jockeys for racing. • Polo saddles are modified Hunt seat saddles for trail riding, elementary jumping, dressage and polo.
English Saddle Tree • The frame or tree of the saddle consist of laminated plywood, fiberglass, steel or a combination of these materials. • English saddles are covered with a variety of materials such as leather, synthetic material, felt, pigskin, etc.
English Saddle Tree • There are two basic types of trees for English saddles. • The rigid tree is a frame without steel straps under the seat. The rigid tree is usually is used for saddle-seat saddles. • The spring tree has two strips of steel that run directly under the seat of the saddle and act as springs.
Basic Parts of the Eastern Saddle • Many parts of a Western saddle exist is some variation or form on Eastern saddles. • The pommel is the forward part of an English saddle and is without a horn. • The girth is a single strap that goes underneath the horse’s belly to hold the saddle on the horse.
Basic Parts of the Eastern Saddle • The stirrup bar is used to attach the stirrup strap to the saddle. • Panels are padding under the tree to cushion the horse’s back.
Eastern Saddle Fittings • Many of the same fittings are available in some form on western saddles. • Stirrup leathers, stirrup irons, and girth are not usually included in the price of an eastern saddle.