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
2. Horse breeds by typical tree size
|Missouri Fox Trotter
||Foundation QH (large)
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:
Leather vs. Synthetic
Parts of a Saddle