The Different Types of Saddles
Anybody who owns a horse needs a saddle that fits them and the horse just right. However, the saddle they choose should also accommodate the type of riding they intend to do. There are many different types of saddles to choose from to make sure you and your horse are set up for success on your rides, and each saddle type has a different design to make riding for certain disciplines easier.
For a new or intermediate rider who doesn’t yet have a riding preference, general-purpose saddles are the way to go. These sturdy saddles have flaps that are cut forward; they can accommodate the rider well for basic jumping and riding. Balance is simple on these saddles, so they’re often used in riding schools because of their easy balance and ability to accommodate riders of all levels.
Flexible Tree Saddle
With growing awareness and concern for the comfort of horses, flexible tree saddles are becoming more widely available on the market. Flexible tree saddles are designed with a rigid fork and cantle and with bars made of a flexible material that allows the tree of the saddle to move with your horse. Flexible tree saddles can fit a broad range of horses, and they’re lightweight, making them great trail or pleasure-riding saddles.
Treeless saddles are a compromise between bareback and full-saddle riding for people who prefer bareback riding styles. They’re usually made from leather and foam padding, with a smaller pommel and cantle made from lightweight materials. These saddles provide closer contact with the horse to mimic bareback riding, but they still give a fair amount of comfort and support. However, because they’re lighter, it’s important to note that these saddles may not be as secure as others.
Show saddles are designed for looking good in the show ring. Show saddles are available in many different designs and distinct looks, but they can be risky investments, as certain designs and looks can go out of fashion, just like clothes. Show saddles usually have unique tooling patterns and silver trim on the skirts, cantle, horn, and even the forks and stirrups.
A ranch saddle is a heavyweight, sturdy saddle designed to provide optimal comfort and functionality for long hours of riding and working with cattle. Some features you may find on a ranch saddle include a deep seat with a high cantle for comfort; low swells; and tall, thick horns with a horn wrap. The fenders on ranch saddles also hang directly below the rider. Visit Coolhorse for more on new ranch saddles for sale.
Roping saddles are specifically designed for roping events. A roping saddle offers the rider maximum freedom of movement so that they can easily chase, rope, and dally. To do so efficiently, roping saddles must have strong trees and a well-anchored horns, which make them much heavier than pleasure or trail saddles. Roping saddles usually have rough or suede seats to prevent sliding so that riders can safely hold their position while participating in roping events. Due to this and their heavy nature, they’re not preferred saddles for anyone looking to casually ride.
Trail or Pleasure Saddle
For the more casual rider, trail or pleasure saddles are good investments to consider. Trail or pleasure saddles are much more lightweight than other saddle options, and they come with padded seats for riding comfort. The fenders on pleasure saddles are positioned to keep the rider in a proper riding position during long rides. Since trail and pleasure saddles are so popular, they’re also offered in a wide variety of styles and colors to please every rider.
A cutting saddle is necessary for anyone looking to participate in cutting events. These saddles are designed to keep you balanced and out of your horse’s way, but you can also use them for penning, reining and training. With all these possibilities, cutting saddles are great versatile choices for saddle investments. Cutting saddle features usually include tall, thin horns; slim stirrups; high, wide swells; flat, long seats; low cantles, and double riggings.
Reining saddles are designed for competing in reining events. Featuring forward-hung stirrups designed for fast starts and stops, their design keeps you in a properly balanced position while allowing close contact with your horse to properly communicate moves. Common features of a reining saddle include a medium-height horn and fork; a seat that sits low on your horse’s back; cutout skirts; free-swinging fenders; dropped rigging; and slim stirrups.
Barrel Racing Saddle
Barrel racing saddles are small, lightweight, and designed to allow maximum maneuverability. They’ll also secure you in the seat during fast turns and sprints. These features make them suitable for other gaming events as well. Features on a good barrel saddle include a deep seat with a higher cantle; a thin, tall horn; a higher fork with wide swells under which you can hook your knees; a rough-out seat; and free-swinging fenders. You’ll also find side jockeys, narrow stirrups, in-skirt rigging, and short skirts.
Endurance competitions cover many miles a day and usually include rough, steep terrain. To make these demanding rides more comfortable, you’ll need a sturdy, lightweight saddle. Due to their design, endurance saddles are also popular for trail riding. Most endurance saddles feature padded seats for comfort; no horn; short, round skirts; deep stirrups; and single rigging.
Pony saddles are meant for small horses and small riders. These saddles typically have 12-inch seats, so they can’t be used for larger horses. Younger riders who are learning on ponies should be prepared to quickly outgrow this type of saddle.
Unlike pony saddles, which are designed for Shetland and Welsh ponies, youth saddles are designed to fit full-size horses. They simply have smaller seats for youth riders to fit in snugly.
As you can see, there are many different types of horse saddles to choose from. You must consider a lot of criteria when searching for the perfect saddle, from rider and horse size to the riding discipline.