While endurance saddles are designed for competitions in which horse and rider teams cover between 50 and 100 miles in a day, they are also the ideal choice for long trail rides. A gaited endurance saddle is specially designed to allow your gaited horse complete freedom of movement, ensuring he is able to offer his best performance while remaining comfortable and free from saddle sores. Here are some basic tips for choosing a western gaited endurance saddle that meets your needs.
Start shopping for a gaited endurance saddle, and you’ll soon notice that the main feature is comfort for horse and rider. The seat should be comfortable, with enough supportive padding to absorb shock and ensure you are able to spend long hours riding. You’ll notice that most endurance saddles for gaited horses have rounded skirts. These are ideal for short-backed horses as well as gaited breeds.
Ensure that the saddle you choose has gaited bars. These are shorter than quarter horse bars, allowing for free action in the hind legs. Additionally, they are set narrower and with more flare at the front than quarter horse bars; this allows for free action at the shoulders.
Some endurance saddles come with horns; others come without. This is mainly a matter of personal preference. Either way, be sure that the gaited endurance saddle you choose has plenty of rigging dees or O-rings, along with saddle strings for securing essential gear.
Deep, padded stirrups help prevent foot and leg fatigue, much in the same way the saddle’s padded seat protects your backside while absorbing shock.
For the horse, a deeply padded fleece underskirt helps to provide comfort; be sure that you select a high-quality saddle pad that accommodates your gaited mount’s withers, too. A well-built tree, usually of wood and/or fiberglass prevents pressure points by distributing your weight evenly over a large portion of the horse’s back. This engineering feature leads to a lighter weight saddle, which helps lighten the total load your horse is carrying and allows him to maintain stamina longer.
To reduce weight even more, consider a synthetic gaited endurance saddle. These saddles carry the added advantage of costing less up front than leather ones, plus they offer quick, easy care. Keep in mind that a synthetic saddle will succumb to wear and tear over time, and will need to be replaced. If you are brand new to endurance riding and aren’t sure whether you’ll stick with it, a synthetic saddle may be the way to go.
Security is as important as comfort, especially on long rides far from emergency services. Look for a gaited endurance saddle with in-skirt rigging. You should be able to attach a breast collar, particularly if your rides will take you over steep or rough terrain. Additionally, your saddle should accommodate a back cinch or have a single rigging configuration in center-fire position. Either of these will prevent the saddle from tipping and save your horse’s back from unnecessary stress. At Saddle Online, many of our endurance saddles come complete with back cinches and matching breast collars, along with a matching headstall.
As for sizing, a gaited endurance saddle is typically sized the same way a Western saddle is sized. If you go for an English endurance saddle, you’ll find sizing follows normal English saddle sizing rules.