It’s always exciting to get a new “ride,” but inevitably, the question of “What size western saddle do I need?” arises.
You might already know that all western saddles come with a specific seat size, measured in inches. In general, the following western saddle size rules apply:
- Youth – 12” to 13” (Be sure to see our guide to fitting kids’ western saddles if looking for a child’s size)
- Small adult – 14”
- Average adult – 15”
- Large adult – 16”
- Extra large adult – 17”
- Very large or tall – 18” to 20”
If you fit somewhere between sizes, you will probably find that you are able to ride more comfortably in a saddle that’s a little too large for your body, rather than one that’s even a little too tight. So if you’re a little larger than average, you will probably ride better in a 16” western saddle than a 15” seat.
Not All Brands and Styles Fit the Same!
Somewhat complicating the question of “What size western saddle do I need?” is the fact that different brands and even different styles have some minor differences that can affect your saddle’s fit and comfort level.
Certain saddles, including barrel saddles, have deeper seats that are designed to keep the rider in place during extreme activity. Simpler trail saddles typically have a shallower seat that allows for a bit more wiggle room.
Complicating things even more is the fact that different saddle designs can feature different angles that really are not measurable, but that you can sometimes differentiate by looking at photos. The cantle slope, for example, is sometimes mild, and sometimes steep. The pitch of that angle can make a surprising difference in the way that a saddle fits your unique body shape.
The fork may be wide or narrow, with or without much swell. Its angle may be fairly straight, or it might slope away from the rider’s body. This affects fit and comfort too.
Sizing the saddle to your horse is just as important as sizing it to yourself! Without a good fit, neither of you will be comfortable, and an uncomfortable horse is never safe to ride. Before you finalize your decision, be sure to take a peek at this guide to taking a withers tracing. The process is quick and easy, and takes just a few minutes to complete. You’ll also find a quick, general guide to sizing western saddles according to your weight, plus another brief guide for sizing English saddles.
Keep in mind that the many variations between saddle styles mean that there is always room for error when buying a saddle without trying it beforehand! For this reason, SaddleOnline offers a generous return policy. If your calculations regarding “What size western saddle do I need?” ended up being a bit off and you wind up needing a different size, you’ll find that the process is pretty painless. Just be sure to leave the tags attached before trying the saddle for size. So happy shopping, and happy trails to you!