One of the first things that a new rider has to learn to do is tack up their horse. Tacking up is the term used to describe putting a saddle pad, saddle, girth and bridle on the horse. The process for putting an English saddle on a horse is different from putting a western saddle on a horse. If you want to ride English, you will need to able to put the English saddle on the horse correctly.
Groom your horse thoroughly to make sure there is no dirt or debris in the area of the back and barrel where the saddle will go. Trapped dirt can rub and cause the horse to develop sores.
Place your English saddle pad on the horse's back, so that it covers the withers. Make sure the saddle pad is placed so that it is even on both sides.
Place your English saddle on top of the saddle pad on the horse's back. Make sure the saddle is sitting evenly and the stirrups and girth are not trapped underneath the saddle. To ensure the saddle is in the correct spot on your horse’s back, place one finger on the button on the side of the saddle’s pommel and the other finger on the top of the panel just below the saddle’s cantle. When your two fingers form a straight line, the saddle is positioned correctly.
Secure the saddle in place using the keepers on the pad. Most English saddle pads have keepers that attach to either the billets or around the bottom flap of the saddle. The keepers help prevent the saddle from slipping off the pad.
Pull the front of the saddle pad up into the gullet under the saddle’s pommel until you can see a hollow space under the pad.
Put the girth on the saddle by attaching it to either the first and second billet or the first and third billets on the right side of the saddle. English saddles have three billets, but the girth only goes through two of them. Most riders use the first and third billets on both sides of the saddle. Fasten the girth on the left side of the saddle. Make sure to slide the girth through the keepers on the pad.
Tighten the girth evenly until it is snug. This means that you should raise the girth using the billets on both sides of the horse, keeping the girth as even as possible on both sides. Stop when the girth is secure. Double check to make sure it is tight before you mount.