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Guide to buying a new saddle, how do I choose?

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

A new saddle is probably the most expensive piece of tack you will ever buy so it's important that you don't make a mistake.

Tips for buying the best saddle.

  • Determine your budget: Saddles can range in price from a few hundred pounds to several thousand pounds. Decide on a budget before you start shopping to narrow down your options.

  • Consider the type of riding you do: Different saddles are designed for different types of riding. For example, a dressage saddle is designed for dressage, a western saddle is designed for western riding, and a jumping saddle is designed for jumping. A General Purpose Saddle is, as the name suggests, a Jack of All Trades.

  • Consider the fit for both the horse and the rider: A saddle should fit both the horse and the rider properly. It should be the right size and shape for the horse, and it should be comfortable for the rider. A saddle that is too small or too large can cause discomfort and even injury to both the horse and the rider.

  • Try before you buy: It's important to try out a saddle before you buy it. Many saddlers or tack shops will allow you to try out a saddle before you make a purchase.

  • Consider the quality of the saddle: A high-quality saddle will be made of durable materials and will last longer than a lower-quality saddle. However, keep in mind that a higher price doesn't always equate to better quality.

Don't be afraid to ask for help: If you're not sure which saddle is best for you or your horse, General Purpose Saddle.

A general purpose saddle is a type of saddle that is designed for a variety of riding disciplines, including dressage, jumping, and cross-country. It typically has a medium-depth seat, moderate leg support, and a relatively straight flap. This makes it a versatile option that can be used for a wide range of riding activities.

The shape and fit of a saddle are important considerations when choosing one for horse riding. It should be comfortable for both the rider and the horse, and it should allow the rider to maintain a balanced, secure position. A general purpose saddle is a good choice for riders who participate in multiple disciplines or who are looking for a saddle that can be used for a variety of purposes.

It's important to remember that every horse is different, and what may be comfortable for one horse may not be comfortable for another. It's always a good idea to have a professional saddle fitter assess your horse's conformation and help you choose a saddle that is suitable for your needs..

Dressage Saddles.

These saddles are typically made with a long and narrow saddle tree, which allows the rider to have a close contact with the horse's back. They also have a deep seat and long, straight flaps to allow the rider to sit in a balanced and upright position.

The stirrup leathers are usually attached to the saddle in a forward position, which allows the rider to have a longer leg and better control over the horse's hindquarters. Dressage saddles are made from a variety of materials, including leather, synthetic materials, and combinations of the two. They are also available in a range of sizes and styles to suit different horses and riders. Some popular close contact saddle brands for dressage include Caveletti, Prestige Italia, GFS and Bates. These saddles can cost over £1000.00 so be sure that you are serious about dressage before making the investment.

Jumping Saddle

Jumping saddles are a type of saddle specifically designed for the discipline of show jumping. They are typically lightweight and have a deeper seat and a shorter stirrup leather to allow the rider to maintain a balanced and secure position while jumping obstacles.

The tree of a jumping saddle is often wider than that of a Dressage or General Purpose saddle to accommodate the broader build of the horse's shoulders and provide stability over fences. The flaps of a jumping saddle are also generally shorter and more forward-cut to allow the rider to maintain a closer contact with the horse's mouth and maintain a better balance while jumping.

Some jumping saddles also have a "knee roll" or "block" on the flap to provide additional support for the rider's leg.

Synthetic Saddles.

Synthetic saddles are made from man-made materials rather than leather or other natural materials. These types of saddles can be made from a variety of materials, including nylon, polyester, and other synthetic fibers.

Synthetic saddles are often chosen by riders because they are more durable, easier to clean, and often more affordable than leather saddles. They may also be preferred by riders who have ethical concerns about using leather products.

Synthetic saddles are designed to mimic the look and feel of traditional leather saddles, but they may not be as comfortable for the horse or rider as leather saddles. Some riders also find that synthetic saddles do not have the same level of grip as leather saddles, which can make them feel less secure.

It's important to note that synthetic saddles may not be suitable for all horses or all riding disciplines. If you are considering using a synthetic saddle, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable saddle fitter or professional riding instructor to ensure that it is the right choice for your horse and your riding needs. Some popular brands of synthetic saddles include Wintec, Thorowgood, Shires and Wonderwish.

Buying a second hand saddle.

When buying a second hand saddle, there are a few key things to consider. First, make sure the saddle is the right size and fit for your horse. A saddle that is too small or too large can cause discomfort for your horse and make it difficult for you to ride properly. Second, carefully inspect the saddle for any signs of wear or damage, such as tears in the leather or loose stitching. If the saddle is in poor condition, it may not provide the support and comfort you need for safe and enjoyable riding. Third, consider the type of riding you will be doing and choose a saddle that is appropriate for that type of activity. If possible, take someone with you that is knowledgeable and try and get the seller to agree to take the saddle back if it proves to be unsuitable.

How to care for your Saddle.

As you will know, Saddles are most likely your most expensive piece of tack so here are some tips for caring for your saddle:

  1. Clean the saddle regularly: After each ride, use a soft cloth or sponge to wipe off sweat and dirt from the saddle. If the saddle is particularly dirty, you can use a saddle soap or mild detergent to clean it. Be sure to rinse the saddle thoroughly and dry it completely before storing it.

  2. Condition the leather: Leather saddles need to be conditioned to keep them supple and prevent them from drying out and cracking. Use a leather conditioner or oil to nourish the leather, and be sure to apply it evenly and in a thin layer.

  3. Store the saddle properly: When not in use, store the saddle in a dry place away from direct sunlight and heat. You can also use a saddle cover or saddle bag to protect the saddle from dust and dirt.

  4. Check the saddle for damage: Inspect the saddle regularly for any signs of damage, such as broken stitching or cracks in the leather. If you find any problems, have the saddle repaired by a professional saddle maker or repair shop.

  5. Use a saddle pad: A saddle pad can help protect the saddle from sweat and dirt, and can also provide extra cushioning for the horse. Be sure to use a clean saddle pad each time you ride and wash it regularly to keep it fresh.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that your saddle stays in good condition and lasts for many years.


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"This article represents the personal views and opinions of the author and should not be taken as representative of the official policy or position of any organization, professional, expert, or individual."

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