What is the best saddle for me?
There are so many different types of saddle styles to choose from. Some saddles are designed for performance, others for rider's comfort, while others are designed with a specific tree for a particular type of horse. How do you know what saddle is right for the discipline you ride? What are the differences in each saddle? What are some things to consider before purchasing a saddle?
A good place to start your saddle search is if you know a particular discipline you may be focusing on. Saddles that are made for specific disciplines, ie barrel racing, are built with different qualities that best suite that style of riding. For example, a jumping saddle will have a more forward and flatter seat than a saddle meant for dressage. Similarly, a trail saddle will have a more cushioned seat to provide comfort than a barrel saddle, which will keep you secure in the saddle at top speed. Don't know what specific discipline you want to ride in? Or maybe you would like to ride in more then one? Both English and western saddles have general purpose styles that may be the best option for you.
When purchasing a saddle, consider two important aspects for saddle size: does the saddle fit the horse and does the saddle fit the rider? A poor fitting saddle can be painful for the horse, and can cause long term issues. Therefore, make sure the saddle you get will be just as comfortable for him as it is for you (click here to see our article about saddle fit). It is also important to make sure the saddle is the correct size for the rider. Most saddles come in a variety of seat sizes for the average adult, but if you have a child or youth you may want to consider getting a child/youth saddle as it is designed in proportion to a youth rider.
There are even options for the type of materials saddles are made from. For example, synthetic and leather. The leather saddles may also come in many different grades and quality. Each material serves a purpose, and it may depend on what is important to the rider. Leather saddles are known to be more durable, last longer, and have a more traditional look. If you want a nice lightweight saddle, consider getting a synthetic saddle or a saddle made with a fiberglass tree (it is lighter than wood). Synthetic saddles are not only light, they are also very easy to maintain and clean.
Each week we will feature a different saddle style and give you some information to keep you up to speed on whether the saddle you are riding in is in fact the best choice for you.