Horse Podcast Ep 96: Which Western Saddle Is Right For You?

In today’s episode Heather is back at the Tack shop learning about western saddles.  They discuss the different types, different uses and why some are so heavy.  We find out the best way to try out a saddle, things to look for when riding in it the first time and some advice on fitting the saddle. The talk about used saddles and how to see if the tree is broken. Advice is shared on the best way to clean your saddle and keep it in the best condition. Please continue to send in your topic ideas and questions for future shows.

Which saddle is right for you?

There are a lot of saddles out there, so picking one isn’t an easy task. There are lots of questions to ask. What style of riding are you doing, what size do you need, the budget you have. perhaps you want used vs new? Most tack store will have a good selection for you to choose from, making sure the saddle fits both yourself and your horse. YOu will find that the saddle shops will allow a trial period for the saddle, you will need to pay in full to try it but will be given a time period to try. Make sure you ride in the saddle for a few hours to get a good feel for it.

Proper Saddle Fitting For Your Horse:

                Once you have your new saddle, you want to make sure that it is fitting your horse properly. The first thing you want to do is to make sure that the gullet is the right size for you horse.

  • Put your saddle on your horse without a blanket
  • If the gullet/ bars of the tree are the right size, you should be able to see straight through the saddle from the withers. If you cannot see through the saddle, then the saddle is too small.
  • Go to the front of the gullet, underneath the horn, and put as many of your fingers going vertically as you can. You should be able to fit about 2 or 3 fingers in there if the saddle is fitting correctly. If you can fit more fingers in the front of the gullet, then the saddle is too big.

Next, you want to make sure that the bars of the saddle tree is forming to you horse’s back.

  • Place your saddle on your horse’s back without a pad or blanket.
  • The tree bars should be touching your horses’ back all the way down.
  • If it seems that the tree bars are only touching the lower part of your horse’s back, then the saddle is too small
  • If it seems that the tree bars are only touching the top of the horse’s back, then the saddle is too big.

Proper Saddle Fitting For the Rider:

                Once you have checked to make sure that your saddle is fitted to your horse, you need to make sure that the saddle is fitting the rider correctly. Depending on what style of riding you are planning on doing, Western or English, depicts the correct fit of the saddle.


  • Attach the saddle to your horse and sit down in the saddle
  • While riding, you should be able to fit 3 to 4 fingers in between the swell and your thigh. 
  • If you can fit more than 4 fingers, your saddle is too big.
  • If you can’t fit 3 fingers, then your saddle is too small.

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Your Guests today:

Dale Claypool and Darcy Sattler (Canada)

Don’t forget to check out the resources section in this article!


  • Rope to Barrel saddles and all in between
  • Taking a saddle for a trial
  • Difference between wood and fibreglass trees
  • Cleaning your saddle

Thank you for tuning in and happy trails!

Special Announcement

Today’s episode is sponsored by Horse India

Horse India aims to give you a holiday to remember, to ensure that through our safaris you can experience the passion we hold for the Marwari horse and Rajasthan. We want to share with you the thrill of riding the unique and spirited Marwari.

Ride through magical Rajasthan, feel the spirit of the Marwari horse as you discover history, culture, forts and palaces, by retracing old routes through the forests of the Aravalli (A-ra-Valley) Hills, and riding over the sand dunes of the Thar Desert. You may have heard of the “Golden Triangle” –  well we ride the bit in the middle! Between the blue city of Jodhpur, the lake city of Udaipur, and within easy reach of the pink city of Jaipur. Join us to ride Marwari horses in their homeland. Horse India welcomes groups of  4 – 12 riders. They can cater to all riding abilities, but to get the most from the holidays you should be comfortable at a canter in the open countryside.

You can book your own private group, join one of our open groups, or if short on time ask us for Day rates. The most popular time to ride in Rajasthan is between October and March however, the  rides can be booked for any time of year to suit your required dates, and will be tailored to suit the weather conditions (summer heat / monsoon rain etc) as well as your riding abilities and requirements. Families with children, and non-riding partners welcome.

For more information please check out their website and facebook pages.

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Do you love to read or listen to horsey books and stories? Then you should have a look at our EQA Book Series, now available as paperbacks, e-books, and audio books.

Packed with exciting true-life stories written by women from all around the world about their adventures they had with horses!

Follow a vet on her adventures in the Namibian Bush, an expat winning a show jumping medal in Italy, a British family with two toddlers crossing Patagonia on horseback or a German girl finding her dream horse on an Indian horse market.

Grab your books and audiobooks now! Incredible true stories of horse riding travel adventures around the world.

Do you feel that we are missing out on an important topic? Or maybe you have an interesting story to tell? Contact Heather or Ute!


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