Selecting Saddles: Important Considerations for Riding Rookies

A little girl getting a horseback riding lesson

Now that you’ve decided to start learning to ride a horse, making a purchase for your own saddle may be an overwhelming experience since there are so many to choose from. Back in the frontier days, western saddles are simple and mainly serve a practical purpose. Nowadays, there are different variations as well as fanciful designs that may catch your eye. However, you should remember that choosing your saddle is a great responsibility since an unfit one can hurt both you and the horse and may result in grave circumstances. Here are some points that you may want to keep in mind as you shop for a saddle.

Fit for You and the Horse

You can say that you have a good riding experience if you enjoy the ride comfortably without much trouble. The saddle you choose should provide you comfort while getting a good fit on the horse. Start by knowing the width and height of the shrivel. The craw or gullet decides whether the saddle fits the horse or not. One that’s too narrow will be painful for your horse’s skin even with saddle pads. And you don’t want an irritated horse unless you prefer having broken bones and lost teeth. Check if the stirrups are too wide or narrow for your comfort, or whether they’re too laid back or pushed forward. Anything in excess could cause you to wobble or fall. Saddles aren’t a one-size-fits-all item, and you can get the best fit with the help of a professional fitter.

Material Quality

Of course, you also have to consider the quality of the material when you’re looking for a saddle. Brand new ones are usually the way to go, but make sure that they’re well-made. Check for any inconsistencies along the seam lines as well as any other defects. Going for pre-loved saddles wouldn’t be such a bad idea, either. However, before making any deals, ask the previous owner how long they’ve used it and how frequently they did. Do check the fleece for any rips and torn and check for any rust on the metal fittings. Also, check the tree for any sign of cracks. Do a quick test by holding the saddle against your hip. You’ll see that the tree bends a bit if you do this and reveals any cracks that are there.

Natural vs. Man-made

Girl barrel racing

Speaking of materials, the saddle’s leather is also a matter of concern. You can choose between natural and synthetic. Natural leather, of course, is more traditional and looks elegant. Aside from the aesthetics, it also boasts sturdiness and lasts for a very long time, especially if you plan on riding on a regular basis. Synthetic leather, on the other hand, is more lightweight and more economical compared to traditional leather. It’s also easier to maintain and can come in a wider selection of colors.

Once you’ve made your choice, it’s now time for a test drive. Remember that safety is always your top concern. It’s not just about being able to ride a horse in style, in fashion, or in comfort, but also knowing what to do in certain situations. A good saddle doesn’t make a good rider, so you have to keep honing your skills to keep yourself from danger. Once you’ve got the hang of everything, enjoy the ride into the sunset.

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