Outdoor Life

How to choose a western saddle

Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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What kind of riding are you doing? Competitive? Recreational? Ask yourself these questions before choosing a saddle
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Review this information before purchasing a saddle.

There are endless options and styles to choose from when considering the purchase of a western saddle. While you do not need a different saddle for each and every activity, some saddles are not useful in some activities. The following are all things to consider when choosing a western saddle.


What Kind of Saddle Do You Need?


What kind of riding are you doing? Competitive? Recreational? Different activities place different requirements on the saddle.


Roping saddle: This type of saddle has double rigging, a large diameter and a well-anchored horn to allow a cow to be tied to it. The saddle is meant for demanding use and the maximum amount of freedom that can be allotted.


Trail saddle: This saddle is lighter than a roping saddle and is often called the pleasure saddle because it is designed for comfort.


Reigning saddle: This type of saddle is made for use in the sport of reining, a competitive event that requires the rider and horse to complete a pattern of circles, spins and sliding stops. This type of saddle has forward hung stirrups that allow a rider to lean back and sit deep during fast starts and stops. The saddle is designed to keep the rider in the saddle and out of the way of the horse, who is the star in this type of sport.


Show saddle: This type of western saddle is designed to look good in the ring, not to work hard. They are decorative and styles change every year according to what's in fashion.


Ranch saddle: As opposed to the show saddle, the ranch saddle is meant for work. Also called cowboy, buckaroo and all-around the ranch saddle is the most versatile of the western saddles. Their goal is comfort and functionality for all kinds of jobs on the ranch.


Rider Fit


Test as many saddles as you can when choosing a western saddle to ensure that you get the right fit for you. A properly fit saddle will allow you to maintain a correct riding position and will keep you from aching when sitting in your saddle for an extended period of time. Check for seat size, stirrup position, cantle height, fork height and angle. Your weight will also figure into your decision.


Horse Fit


In addition to fitting you and your requirements, it is imperative that in choosing a western saddle, you pick one that fits your horse well. Ill-fitting saddles cause health and training problems in horses. The breed, size and special physical features of your horse should all be taken into account. Make sure the saddle comfortably clears your horse's withers, isn't too tight through the shoulders and is well-balanced for weight distribution. The most reputable saddle shops will allow for a trial period to test the saddle on your horse.




Budget will be another important factor to consider when choosing a western saddle. Saddle prices can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. Although more expensive saddles usually means better quality (higher quality of leather and craftsmanship), it is possible to find a reasonably-priced high-quality saddle. In addition, a high-quality saddle will last a lifetime and be worth its weight in gold for its comfort and durability. If you simply cannot afford a good saddle, consider purchasing a used one. These saddles will be broken in and comfortable, and if they are made well they will be just as good the second time around as the first.


When choosing a western saddle, knowledge and trial runs will be your best allies. Talk to a professional and never turn down a chance to sit in a friend or acquaintance's saddle to discover which type of saddle works for you and your horse. All of this will make choosing a western saddle less intimidating and more rewarding.

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