A saddle is a necessary attribute of horseback riding. It not only allows the rider for comfortable and safe mounting of the horse but also constitutes a link between the human and the animal. A properly fitted saddle protects the horse’s back and provides comfort for the rider. You should pick it carefully, paying attention to many aspects, which we will name further in the article.
Size fitted to the horse and rider
The size of the saddle needs to be chosen minding the rider’s body dimensions. Different sizes would be right for kids, different for tiny people, and different for those who are tall and strong. A flap should be properly elongated or shortened for exceptionally tall or short people.
When it comes to the horse, the most important is his back’s shape. You need to pay attention to the placing of the withers and croup – are they in one line? Is the horse’s back arching or dished? You can find a properly profiled saddle accordingly to your horse’s build – that would make the saddle comfortable, safe, and stable. It is very rare that the horse’s sides of the body will be symmetrical – a properly fitted saddle needs to neutralize such differences.
Types of horse riding saddles
Jumping saddle – designed for show jumping. It has a flat seat and high knee blocks, which allows the rider to take the proper leg position for jumping and makes it easy to keep in the saddle during dynamic movements. It has a characteristic square cantle, which allows the rider to unburden the horse’s back while taking off the ground and jumping.
Dressage saddle – it has a deep seat and long flaps. The rider’s pose in the saddle is almost opposite to the one in the jumping saddle: it is visibly straight, the knees are bent at a lower angle. With such a position, the rider might easily communicate with the horse.
Versatile saddle – It is a combination of the two types mentioned above. It is very comfortable, does not make the rider take a particular body pose. It would be suitable both for training show jumping and performing dressage elements.
Cross-country saddle – suitable for long rides – it is light, comfortable, and allows a light seat. Due to the proper structure, it guarantees comfort for both the rider and the horse.
Western saddle – it has a characteristic horn, which formerly was used to attach a lasso for catching cattle.
Saddle without a tree – the lack of a tree provides exceptionally close contact between the rider and the horse. It is used in hippotherapy and recreational rides.
Junior saddle – it is properly adjusted to children’s or teens’ anatomy. It is narrower than adult saddles but it is also deeper and softer. It usually has knee blocks that can be attached with velcro closures, which allows the kids to feel safer while riding.
A wrongly fitted saddle is the shortest way for many issues – problems with maintaining balance by the rider, dangerous horse’s behavior, stress, pain, and inflammations for the pet. Thus, it is worth consulting your choice with a specialist – a saddle fitter. Professional help at choosing a saddle, testing it before buying, and adjusting it to your individual style of riding, are the steps you should take to make sure you are providing the highest possible comfort of riding for you and your horse.