What to Consider when Buying a New Horse Saddle?

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Buying a new or first saddle can seem like a daunting challenge.   Next to the purchase price of your horse this is most likely the most expensive piece of equipment that you will purchase.  In order to make this task less daunting, this article breaks done the factors and features of saddle buying and what to consider when purchasing one.


Discipline:   The first factor that you should consider is what riding discipline you are interested in partaking in.  You do not want to purchase a western pleasure saddle if you intend on jumping in the hunter ring or riding in the dressage ring.  Consider the type of saddle that is best suited for your riding discipline.  Pleasure and trail riding riders have some wiggle room in this feature.  For example, if you plan on jumping logs on the trail an English all-purpose saddle might be a good choice or if you would like to carry along saddle bags a western trail saddle or Australian saddle might work best for you.   So consider what riding discipline you want to partake in.  This first step in choosing a saddle will greatly start to narrow your choices.


Leather vs. Synthetic:  The second factor of your new saddle you should consider are the materials in which the saddle is composed of.  There are advantages and disadvantages to leather and synthetic materials.   Synthetic saddles have come a long way in the last few years, the saddles look and are used frequently in the show ring.  The advantages of a synthetic saddle are that the saddle is much lighter in weight, easier to clean, they comes in a variety of styles (English and Western), many different colors, and most look very much like their leather counterparts but at fraction of the price.  The traditional saddle is made of leather.  Leather saddles are more durable and as long as the leather quality is premium; these saddles will last a lifetime with the proper care.  Proper care includes cleaning and oiling to ensure the leather remains supple.  Once the decision of leather or synthetic is made, it is time to consider fit.


Horse Fit:   Fitting a saddle to your horse is extremely important!   An ill-fitting saddle can cause all sort of issues, including health and training problems.  Too often behavioral problems can be linked to a saddle that does not fit correctly.  However, spending load of money on a custom saddle may not be the answer.  Horses, like people, change physically as they age.  What fits this year may not fit in the years to come.  So unless you have a horse that has unusual physical characteristics, a good fitting saddle can be found without the price tag of a custom saddle.  The factors to consider when sizing you horse include breed, overall size, and any special characteristics, such as high withers, short back, or gaited.  These factors will help you to determine the gullet size and over all shape of the saddle.  A good saddle fit should sit balanced on the horse and allow for free range of motion through the shoulders.  Please refer to article “How to Fit a Western Saddle to your Horse”, for further horse fitting suggestions.  A wither tracing is also good place to start for saddle fit, please refer to the article “How to take a Wither Tracing?”.


Rider Fit:  It is great if your horse is comfortable, but if you are not then you are not going to enjoy your ride.  Rider fit is just as important as horse fit.  If a saddle does not fit the rider properly than the rider’s position can be compermized.  The best thing to do is sit in a variety of saddles, whether friend’s or in a tack store.  You will begin to get a very good idea what size and style fit you the best.  Rider fit factors to consider are seat size, stirrup position, cantle height, fork/pommel height, and overall weight of the saddle.  For a good “rule of thumb” for saddle sizing and place to start refer to articles “How to fit a saddle for a Child or Youth”, “How to Buy the Right Sized Australian Stock Saddle”, “What is the Best Sized English Saddle for you”, and “How to Find a Western Saddle to Fit You”.


Budget: Saddles can range in price from a few hundred to thousands of dollars, so what is the best price range for you?  This answer depends on how much you can afford.  Saddles are a vital part of riding and you should be able to enjoy your ride.  You can cut the cost of saddles by sticking to saddles that do not have all the extra detailing, such as crystals, conchos, and silver. 


Reviews: Check out the saddle reviews!  This can be time consuming but if other riders are happy with a saddle, chances are that the saddle has positive reviews.  Reviews can be a good way to narrow down decisions.  Please feel free to check out these saddle reviews by customers for SaddleOnline saddles, Reviews.


New vs. Used: With this factor there are advantages and disadvantages to both new and used.  With a new saddle, the saddle has never been used and therefore is in top shape condition.  Saddles in new condition are also safer, since none of the parts have been worn down by use (i.e. stirrup leathers or the tree).  However, there is a period of “breaking in” new saddles; care must be taken to oil, condition, and mold a new saddle.  With a used saddle this can eliminate the “breaking in” process, however you need to wary and inspect a used saddle thoroughly.  A used saddle will a tree that is broken is useless to a rider.


Style:  The final factor you should consider after all the previous stated factors is the overall style of the saddle.  Do you like bright colors, do you want silver or animal print?  This is a personal preference for each rider.  But the good news is there are a lot of options out there for you to choose from.  Chances are you will find that saddle that is uniquely yours.


So before you make a purchase of a new saddle weigh all these factors.  This is an important decision for horse and rider.  We hope that this article has made this task a little less daunting. Visit SaddleOnline today and pick out your perfect saddle!