Select the Right Saddle

Image of a horse saddle.

The right saddle will make a significant difference for both you and your horse and ensure a safe, balanced and relaxing ride. Comfort is key; if the rear of the saddle is up after you cinch the saddle on your horse, or if the saddle wants to roll after you place it on, the saddle is not the correct size for your horse.

Determine Seat Size and Seat Measurement

Seat measurement is determined by placing the end of a ruler below the horn, parallel to the seat and measuring back to the stitching on the cantle. Seat sizes are typically available from 13 inches to 18 inches, although some 10-inch, 11-inch, 12-inch and 19-inch seats can be custom ordered. The comfort of the fit can change with seat size. For example, some barrel racing and trail saddles have 5-inch cantles, while some roping saddles may have 3.5-inch cantles.

To determine your seat size, sit in the saddle; you should have approximately a two-finger distance between the front swell and your leg. The two-finger distance is a good rule for trail and pleasure riding saddles. Barrel racers and ropers will want to feel as secure as possible in the saddle, so a one-finger distance is optimal. Since show saddles have center pocket seats, the two-finger rule is not as important; the saddle just needs to feel comfortable.

Determine Stirrup Length

The average stirrup leather and fender on 15-inch and 16-inch saddles will fit a 34-inch inseam with a three to four inch adjustment up or down. Fenders and stirrup leathers are approximately three to four inches shorter on 13- and 14- inch saddles and three to four inches longer on 17-and 18-inch saddles. When trying out a saddle, always set the stirrup leathers and fenders to the correct length; then, take your feet out of the stirrups and see whether the saddle still feels comfortable.

How to Saddle Your Horse Correctly

To saddle your horse correctly, start by placing the pad or blanket high on the withers and then slide it backwards. If a blanket is used, place the folded edge toward the horse’s withers; the front folded edge should align with the middle of the horse’s shoulder. Next, pick up the saddle and bring the right stirrup over the seat. The front edge of the pad should be aligned with the shoulder and the saddle should be centered 3 inches behind the front pad.

Source:

America’s Horse Daily, “The Right Saddle.” October 2009.

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Read What Our Clients Say

  • "Kath, thank you so much for being Greyson's vet, your gentle hand, compassion and great skill made all the difference for my buddy."
    --Deirdre Dekking, Portland
  • "Dr. Mertens is a very friendly, knowledgeable equine veterinarian (and a friend to the rest of the farmyard, including the chickens!). Always up to date on the latest in equine health, and even though Mertens Mammals is a small clinic giving you the personable experience, Dr. Mertens also has equipment for more advanced diagnostics and procedures!"
    —Ari Gordon, Boring
  • "I have been a client of Mertens Mammals for 10 years. Kath (Dr. Mertens) is the most kind, thoughtful and caring Vet I have ever had for my animals. I have 3 horses: my Appy "Breeze" who turns 30 this year, my Paint " Rocket " 14 and my other Paint "Fergie " 3 are all under Kath's care. I also had a dog "Cowboy" who I lost to cancer last July. Kath took care of him also. Dr.Mertens came out on Mother's Day about 7 years ago to treat Breeze for a cut above her right eye. After a few weeks of recovery we were happy to not have a huge scar. Kath also spent 2 hours with me 3 years ago when Rocket had a small case of colic. (Thank God). I couldn't ask for a better person to take care of my girls. Kath always calls to check in on the patients. When people ask who I use for my veterinary needs for my horses, I'm always proud to refer them to Mertens Mammals. I am so thankful for an honest and caring Vet. Thank you, Kath!"
    --Michelle Schatz, Portland
  • "I got looking at Sassy’s records and it will be 6 years in July when you first met Sassy—I feel so fortunate that you became her vet and have looked after her all these years. You are such a wonderful and caring doc and I know you always have Sassy’s best interests at heart. I also know I can always rely on you to help me or Sassy when needed. Thanks for all you do for both of us—will keep you posted on Sassy.”"
    —Judy Becker, Eagle Creek
  • "My horse, Pester, would have lost her eye had it not been for the great care and dedication by Mertens Mammals. They are truly there for you any time you need them. I could go on and on. Kath Mertens has been so good to us!"
    --Troy and Wendy Mohr, Estacada
  • "She has always been there for us. She is forever in my thoughts as the best vet. She saved our hours old filly from certain death. She knew exactly what to do in an instant after just seconds in seeing her. We are forever in your debt...thank you!"
    Barbara T.
  • "Thank you Dr Mertens for such a thoughtful and careful job with our sweet Daisy the Donkey this morning! She is well on her way to health again after that abscess!"
    Suzi C.