Which Saddle Is Right For You And Your Horse?
What is the history of the origin of the horse saddle?
Originally, the saddle was not used for riding, but as a pack saddle. This type of saddle had the name “Bocksattel”. This consisted of two boards that were placed on the side of the horse and supported by other boards. Only later was this Bocksattel padded with skins and blankets. Gradually, the saddle was further modified, girth and stirrups were added.
Why ride with a saddle at all?
Admittedly, there is probably nothing more beautiful for a rider than riding without a saddle. You can feel every little movement of the horse, every muscle, the warmth of the animal. In addition, riding without a saddle gives you a great connection and trust with your 4-legged friend. However, you should not ride bareback all the time. Especially if you have not been riding for a long time, you will fall into your horse’s back, especially when trotting or cantering, and this can lead to tension in the horse. The saddle serves as a kind of buffer and absorbs your movements. Furthermore, a well-fitting saddle distributes the pressure evenly on the horse’s back.
What are the different saddles?
There are now many different saddles that are used in different disciplines:
Most riders among us are recreational riders. For this reason, the eventing saddle is the most widely used saddle. Eventing saddles are a combination of dressage and jumping saddles. They combine pronounced knee rolls and calf blocks with a slightly forward cut and half-length saddle flap. The shape of the seat is also a mixture of jumping and dressage saddles.
Dressage is the cornerstone to every level of riding and to every discipline. In dressage one learns to sit correctly and to give precise aids.
The rider sits upright on the horse with a long, only slightly bent leg, and is therefore very good at giving cross and weight aids. That is why dressage saddles have long and straight cut saddle flaps and a recessed seat.
Jumping saddles are cut completely differently than dressage saddles. They have a wide forward cut saddle flap, which is relatively short. The seat is very flat, but jumping saddles have knee rolls and even more pronounced calf rolls. These hold the rider’s leg in position over the jump. The saddle flap is short because the stirrups are strapped quite short when jumping and the rider sits on the horse with his leg strongly bent.
Trail riding saddle
Trail riding saddles are characterized primarily by their fit. A saddle that rests on the horse’s back for hours or even days must have a large, well-padded contact surface and also be light in weight. On trail saddles you will often find cords and grommets where the rider can attach provisions, tools, rain gear, etc.
Western saddles are used in western riding and increasingly, just like eventing saddles, in recreational riding. The western saddle originally consisted of a wooden tree covered with rawhide and a body of leather, often richly stippled for decoration. More recent, inexpensive models are also made with synthetic trees and leather or synthetic superstructures. Because of its large contact surface, which distributes the weight well on the horse’s back, and its seat shape for the rider, the western saddle is well suited for long-duration rides. Western saddles differ depending on the discipline.
A distance saddle is designed for extremely long rides around 100 km. A very good fit, low weight and no frills characterize this saddle.
Tölt saddles are suitable for gaited horses. Gaited horses have two other gaits besides walk, trot and canter: tölt and pass. This specially designed saddle gives the rider the seat needed for these gaits.
Racing saddles are particularly small and lightweight saddles used in horse racing. They provide the racehorse with as much freedom of movement as possible, allowing for high speed. Racing saddles are not suitable for comfortable sitting, instead they enable the racing seat, where the center of gravity comes over the horse’s center of gravity, which is shifted far forward in the racing gallop, by leaning forward in the crouch.
Side saddles are now out of fashion. The purpose of this saddle was to allow distinguished ladies to ride in their precious dress. In a side saddle, both legs of the rider are positioned on the left side. It was not appreciated when noble ladies sat differently on the horse. Side saddles give little support to the rider, a fall from this saddle is relatively dangerous.
Where can I find the right saddle?
Horse saddles are available in various online stores, in horse specialty stores, at horse shows, at saddle fairs.
Do not save at the wrong end!
At Stallbedarf24 you will find a lot of articles around horse supplies and saddle accessories like girths, stirrups, saddle care, etc. But you will not find saddles here. But you won’t find any saddles here. And that has a simple reason: The saddle must fit your horse. We advise you: do not buy your saddle in online shops. Let yourself be advised by a professional (preferably a saddler, of course).
How do I know if the saddle fits my horse?
As described above, you should consult a professional who will put different saddles on your horse’s back and immediately recognize with a trained eye whether the saddle fits the back of your 4-legged friend. If the first impression is good, try out the saddle in all gaits. Depending on the discipline, there are different clues as to how a saddle should sit. There are procedures for measuring your horse’s back. Last but not least, the sweat pattern on the back also reveals whether the saddle fits well.
What does a suitable saddle cost?
There are both used and new saddles.
You can buy used saddles for as little as 100 Euros. You can often find them on the “bulletin board” in your riding stable, at saddle fairs, on the Internet. There is nothing against a used saddle. But as described above, you should not save at the wrong end. Try the saddle on your horse, don’t just go by price and appearance, but by fit. An improperly fitting saddle will harm your horse and you will certainly incur costs at the vet.
For a new saddle you should spend at least 1000 Euro. But then you haven’t bought anything special yet. A good quality saddle (good workmanship, high quality materials, good padding, perfect fit) costs around 3000 Euros. If the saddle is custom-made for your horse, around 5,000 Euros are realistic. There are hardly any upper limits.
How do I care for my saddle?
In order to enjoy your saddle for a long time, you should clean it regularly.
It is best to use saddle soap and a little water as well as a clean sponge to clean the saddle thoroughly and everywhere. Too much water dries out the leather! Do not forget places under the saddle flaps, stirrup leathers, underside, etc. After cleaning, rub the leather dry with a lint-free cloth. Only when the saddle is cleaned and dry, you start with the care. Beeswax, leather oil or leather grease are suitable for this. It is best to use a lint-free, soft cloth or a sponge. After about 20 minutes you can polish your saddle.
How do I store my saddle?
The cleanest way to keep your saddle free of dust is to cover it with a suitable saddle cover before and after riding. There are saddle trolleys on which you can place the saddle. These offer storage space and are usually easy to move. However, saddle lockers are the most advantageous.
What accessories do I need to buy?
When buying a saddle, not everything is necessarily included. The following accessories are part of the complete outfit of a saddle:
They come in different designs, materials, lengths.
Saddle cloths, pads, saddle blankets, gel pads:
They have the task of absorbing further shocks and protecting the horse’s back. Furthermore, they protect the coat and reliably absorb moisture.
Stirrups and stirrup leathers:
Stirrups come in all shapes, colors and sizes. But mainly the stirrup should give you enough support and security. Make sure that you don’t slip through the stirrup with your shoe, otherwise it can cause significant injuries in case of a fall.
What is the alternative to a saddle?
Perhaps your budget simply does not allow you to buy a good saddle. Or maybe your horse has problems with a saddle. There are some alternatives to a conventional saddle:
The treeless saddle will appeal to riders who like to ride in the woods and fields. However, it is important to note that even this flexible saddle must be fitted by a professional. According to the manufacturer, the saddle is not suitable for horses with strong withers. However, the Liberty can serve well as a second saddle or for horses in growth and for acclimatization.
A riding pad is a clever in-between solution of saddle and bareback riding: the rider slides less on the horse’s back and at the same time it is protected.
The fur saddle can be ridden on almost any horse, because the treeless saddle made of lambskin perfectly adapts to the back line of any horse. By the way, the model is especially suitable for horses that are still undergoing muscular changes.
Now you know how big the offer is and how difficult it is to choose the right saddle. Before you start looking for a suitable saddle, answer the following questions:
Which riding style do I have (dressage, jumping, leisure)?
What is my budget?
Where can I find professional help for the saddle fitting on my horse?
Where can I store my saddle?
You will find the right saddle for you and your horse. Remember, don’t save on the wrong end and get help, your horse’s back will thank you for it!
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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