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Fitting an English Saddle

Whether you’re schooling at home or trotting around the show ring, saddle fit is important. Saddles need to fit both horse and rider, an uncomfortable team will not be able to perform its best. English saddles are available in different seat, in half-inch increments. You can measure the seat of an English saddle by going from the nail heads on either side of the pommel to the center of the cantle. This measurement, in inches, is the seat size. General rules of thumb on seat sizes are as follows:

      • Youth or Small Adult 15"-16 ½" seat
      • Average Adult 17" seat
      • Large Adult 17 ½"-18" seat
      • Extra Large Adult 18" and over seat

A note, if you know your Western saddle seat size, you can figure out your English seat size by adding 2". So, if you ride in a 15" Trail saddle, you will need a 17" English saddle.

When sitting in a properly fitted English saddle, you should have approximately a hands’ width of room both in front of and behind your seat. Of course, everybody is built differently and some riders prefer looser saddle fits, while others may prefer a tighter fit. One thing to keep in mind, if you are between sizes and one size seems too small but the next size up seems too big; it is generally a better bet to go with a saddle that feels a little too big.

The saddle also needs to fit the horse. The tree, which the saddle is built on, is available in different widths, to fit different size horses. The most common tree width is Medium, also known as Regular. This width will fit most Thoroughbreds, and some Quarter Horses, Arabs, Appaloosas and Warmbloods. Saddles are also available in Wide trees, which will fit broader backed horses, and Narrow, to fit slender breeds. Some manufacturers even make extra wide trees for draft crosses or other very wide horses.



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  • Published:
  • Updated: 5/17/2018: 9:43:32 AM ET