Thanks to their surefootedness and gentle nature, draft horses are becoming more popular as everyday riding horses. Their large size contributes to a smooth feel, and their muscular frames lend them impressive stamina. Many who ride these big beauties prefer the security a draft horse western saddle offers. If you’re among them, you’ll appreciate these tips for selecting a saddle that fits you and your riding partner.
Before beginning the process of selecting your draft horse western saddle, be sure that your mount is at least five years old. Unlike some other horses who develop at a younger age, a draft’s spine doesn’t close until he is about age five. Riding too soon could cause permanent damage. If you’d like to teach your draft to drive before age five, feel free! Work on ground manners, too. Once you’re ready to transition to riding, your horse will cooperate eagerly.
As with other horse, the first step in selecting a draft horse western saddle is to measure your mount by taking a withers tracing to ensure that the standard 9-inch gullet on the typical draft horse saddle will fit. Your horse may take a smaller size if he or she is of mixed descent, and in some cases, a larger size may be needed. Don’t skip this step, since a saddle that is too small will pinch and one that is too large will lead to discomfort as well.
Next, select your seat size. While many of the most popular draft horse western saddle designs are suited to larger riders who need a 17-inch seat or bigger, smaller seat sizes are available. Correct saddle fit is very important for anyone who is going to ride a draft horse. If your saddle is not the right size, you are likely to be very uncomfortable. If you’re not sure about your own seat requirement, just refer to our quick western saddle sizing guide to determine what size saddle you need.
If you don’t own a saddle pad, cinch, breast collar, or other accessories for your draft, be sure to pick these up as well. When you shop with Saddle Online, you’ll find that many of our draft horse western saddle options come as complete packages, with a matching breast collar and headstall. Measure your horse for a girth while you are in the process of fitting him, so you can choose the right one.
Finally, be sure that you have the right bit to go with your bridle. If you are not sure what size bit your draft horse needs, then you can easily find out by taking a 1-foot length of yarn or string, and with the help of a partner, placing it through the horse’s mouth in the same position a bit would be. Once the string is straight and taut (but not pulling up on the horse’s lips) use a pen to mark both sides of the string where it meets the corners of the horse’s mouth. Add ½ inch to that measurement. If your horse has large, low, prominent cheek bones you may need to pick up a bit that’s one size larger to accommodate for his face.
With the right tack and a draft horse western saddle that’s sized for comfort, you and your mount will be ready to hit the trail in no time.