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What You Need To Know When Buying A Saddle

How to buy a saddle


“What size saddle does my horse need?” Many people ask this question so we’ve put together some useful resources to guide your decision.

We suggest looking over the information below to compile your results when considering four main areas: Height/weight, Breed, Gullet Templates, and Conformation.


1. Check the Height and Weight of Your Horse

Inches Height (hh) Medium Wide Extra Wide
56 14.0 775-850 850-1000 1000+
57 14.1 800-875 875-1040 1040+
58 14.2 825-900 900-1080 1085+
59 14.3 850-925 925-1120 1120+
60 15.0 875-950 950-1160 1160+
61 15.1 900-975 975-1200 1200+
62 15.2 925-1000 1000-1240 1240+
63 15.3 950-1050 1050-1280 1280+
64 16.0 975-1075 1075-1320 1320+
65 16.1 1000-1100 1100-1360 1360+
66 16.2 1025-1125 1125-1400 1400+


2. Horse breeds by typical tree size

Medium Wide Extra Wide

Arabian

Quarter Horse Haflinger
Morgan Paint Clydesdale
Thoroughbred Mustang Percheron
Tennessee Walker Rocky Mountain Fjord
Missouri Fox Trotter Andalusian Friesian
Appendix QH   Foundation QH (large)
Appaloosa    
Saddlebred    
Standardbred    
Paso Fino    


3. Use our gullet templates as a guide

Try Our Free Gullet Templates: Downloadable Gullet Templates

Most fit issues are from a saddle that is too tight. Full-QH or Wide trees are becoming more common.


4. Conformation – Horse shape can tell a lot when thinking about fit.

  • Withers: High or pronounced withers = Medium or Gaited tree, Low or mutton withers = Wide tree
  • Shoulders: Broad, protruding, or wide angled shoulders need a wide tree
  • Back Length: Short back weight vs. normal back weight factors just like a person regarding fit. Short back weight vs. normal back weight factors just like a person regarding fit. 200 lbs looks different on a 5’2” person vs. a 6’2” person. The same is true with a horse. A horse with a short back may be lighter weight but have a rounded shape needing a wide tree.
    *Short backs usually need a 23” – 26” and round skirt
  • Swayback: Horses with a swayback may need corrective pads like a swayback or bridge pad.
  • Flat Back: Mule saddles, cutting saddles, and barrel saddles often have a flatter bar that works well for flat-backed horses.

    Have a horse with high withers and broad shoulders?
    Consider a gaited saddle.

  • 5. What does my current saddle tell me?

    Are there pressure points under the front of the saddle? Check the angle and the width of the bar spread. You may need a wider angle or spread. Check out our Western Saddle Fitting and Tree Sizes page


    What if my saddle rolls from side to side?

    Saddles often roll side to side due to lack of contact between the horse’s back and the surface of the saddle bars. If the saddle is too tight, it will perch too high on the horse’s back and won’t allow the bars to settle down on the horse to make contact. If the saddle is too wide, the bars flare away from the horse’s back too much and don’t actually make good contact to grip against the horse’s back to prevent rolling.


    Further guided help in buying a saddle:

    Seat Size
    Leather vs. Synthetic
    Tree Materials
    Rigging Options
    Parts of a Saddle
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