January 06, 2022 4 min read

 

 

Saddles are as unique as horses are, and there are plenty of options to choose from. Saddles are not created equal, but that's not a bad thing! Options allow you to find the perfect tack for your horse and your budget. 

 

 

What makes a saddle different from other saddles? 

 

 

 

The leather or fabric used for the bulk of the saddle.  

 

There was a time when leather was simple, it was brown, and that was it. Now saddles come in various leathers, from traditional calf, ostrich, pigskin, and even buffalo.  

 

The tanning process of your saddle's leather will also vary. Tanning is the art of preserving leather, often with vegetable dyes or chromium salts. The preservation process also adds dyes and pigments to give the leather a distinct color. Saddle colors go far beyond the browns and blacks of years ago, and into shades of blue, red, white, silver, gold, and even orange.  

 

There are also saddles made with synthetic fabrics, and some leather saddles have fabric, patent leather, or pops of color as highlights or piping.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How saddles are padded

 

 

The inside of the saddle needs a cushion, not only for your bum but your horse's back as well. Flocking is used to describe saddlery stuffed with wool. The wool can be added, removed, replaced, and shaped to fit your horse's back perfectly. There are synthetic alternatives to wool, also. 

 

Foam panels are an alternative to wool flocking. The foam is typically not adjustable for the changing needs of your horse's back. In some cases, an adjustable pad may create a more custom fit.  

 

Foam will wear out over time, and some saddles can have the foam stuffing replaced. There are also hybrid types of saddles with foam covered with flocking. This allows for adjustability with the steadiness of foam. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The style and fit of the saddle 

 

Aside from the discipline that your saddle is designed for, most saddle makers offer basic sizing. Flap length and stirrup bar location may also be changeable to suit your legs, just like the twist and the depth of the seat. It's just as vital for you to have the perfect fit as it is for your horse. 

 

Once the fit is correct, colors, highlights, piping, bling, and other decorative items could be changed in some cases. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spinal Channel

 

The spinal channel is typically 4 to 5 cm wide.   Some brands can customize the width case it is needed.

 

However, too wide is not good for the horse. The wider the channel is the smaller the area where the horse carries the weight, since the contact area on the longissimus dorsi becomes smaller as a consequence. Also, note that the "legs" of the tree should lay on the panels.  

 

Normally a spinal channel of 4 to 5 cm is more than enough but on extra wide horses, it might be good for it to be wider.

 

 

 

 

 

Saddle Channel width is very important! 

 

 

 

What part of the Saddle is the Twist?

 

 

The twist is often not understood correctly.   Most people think that it is the part of the saddle in the crotch area.

 

It is actually the part of the saddle that lies between the rider's upper and inner thighs.

 

If you have a short rider sitting on a wide twist, it will make it difficult for the rider to put their leg on the horse, which is critical in giving aids to the horse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adjustability

 

 

Once you have a saddle that fits you and your horse, consider how adaptable the saddle will be over time. 

 

Are the panels adjustable to fit the changing muscles of your horse's back? If the panels are foam, can they be changed by the manufacturer? How can the gullet be modified to work with a changing back?

 

It's also helpful to know how easily the saddle can change to suit your body's needs. 

 

Some saddles, like the Australian Stock saddles, have a fixed tree.   These trees can't be adjusted.   They typically come in Wide or Regular tree.   

 

 

  Unique looking dressage saddles 

 

 

 

Australian Stock Saddle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dressage Saddles

 

 

 

 

Other things to consider about your horse's saddle

 

Horse tack is an investment and designed to last a lifetime. Usually! When shopping for saddles, also have these things in mind:

 

  • Are the style and color appropriate for the show ring?

  • How easy is tack cleaning?

  • Do you need to buy all new tack to match?

  • How easily would this saddle be sold second-hand? 

  • How readily available is the saddle rep to help you with fittings and repairs?

  • What's the budget?

  • Does the saddle work with your horse's saddle pads and numnahs?

  • How is the quality of the leather and stitching?

  • Are there any special instructions that would require more time or money?

 

 

 

Now to find the perfect tack cleaner to take care of your investment!

 

 

Try one of these well known brands to keep your tack like new!

 

 

Maggie Robbins
Maggie Robbins


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