Buying a new saddle is a very exciting prospect, but we want to ensure we make a great decision.
This is an important investment, so take time to consider all your needs and do your research. You’ll find there are saddle brands that resonate with you because of how they are positioned in terms of style, performance, practicality or even luxury.
However, there are many considerations to find the perfect saddle that fits both you and your horse. You should also involve your support team in your decision.
When it comes to making a wise purchase, consult with a trusted expert like your saddle fitter or coach.
We worked with the FEI to produce this handy guide, read the original article on FEI.org here
Finding the Best Saddle: For Your Horse
We all want the absolute best for our horses – as a starting point, you’ll need to address:
- What are your aspirations for your ridden partnership? To find the right saddle, you’ll first consider your chosen discipline and your expected level of participation. Many saddles have been designed with features which will offer your horse greater comfort and may influence performance at higher levels of competition.
- Similarly, what level of training is your horse at and is that likely to change in the future?
- Is your equine partner a pony or horse? While most saddle brands have a range of seat sizes, there are special pony saddles designed with shorter panels for your pony’s comfort.
- Is your horse still growing? You might like to factor age and expected physical development into your saddle choice.
- Does your horse have specific conformation challenges? Consider saddle models that have been designed for special conformations, such as horses with high withers or wide horses.
- How often and how long will you be riding your horse in the saddle? Horse and rider comfort is key!
- Consider your discipline and expected level
Finding the Best Saddle: For You, the Rider
When it comes to our own needs, there’s some practical considerations to consider before purchasing a saddle.
- Setting a budget from the beginning will help you to shortlist saddles that meet your criteria.
- Leather or Synthetic? What level of maintenance are you prepared for?
- What seat size do you need and can you find a saddle in that size that also fits your horse?
- Are you currently having a problem with your riding that special saddle features may be able to help address? For instance, does the saddle have the ability for you to make adjustments to enhance your preferred rider position? Saddles with adjustable, or recessed stirrup bars may allow you to more comfortably achieve a shoulder-hip-heel alignment.
- Can you adjust the saddle to allow for the length of your leg? Many saddles have movable blocks that allow your leg to hang in a position that is more natural for you.
- Do you prefer the feeling of sitting close to your horse? If so, you may like a monoflap design.
By working through this list, you’ll find yourself forming a clear view on the right saddle for you and your horse now, and in the long-term.