How to Choose an English Saddle for Your Horse


A good fit

A poor-fitting saddle will cause discomfort and possible injury to the horse’s back. It will restrict the horse’s movement and can lead to it bucking or resisting your aids in order to avoid pain caused by pressure from the saddle. The main points for checking the fit of a saddle are:

  • It must be the right size for horse and rider.
  • There must be no pressure on the horse’s spine. There must be a clear channel through the gullet (the central groove on the saddle’s underside).
  • It must not press down on the withers. You should be able to fit at least two fingers between the withers and the arch below the pommel; nor should it pinch them—if the fit is too tight, a wider tree is needed.
  • It must sit level and distribute the rider’s weight evenly. It should not hamper the movement of the shoulders nor rest too far back on the loins.
  • Placing a saddle
  • Smooth down the hair where the saddle and girth will lie and check there is no mud or old sweat in the coat to cause sores.
  • If you are using an unattached saddlecloth or numnah under the saddle, gently place it well forward and then slide it back into position.
  • Pick up the saddle with your left hand holding the front arch and your right hand holding the cantle (back of the saddle).

English Saddle

  • Stand at the horse’s nearside (left side) shoulder; without too much of a swing that might scare the horse, lift the saddle over the horse’s back and gently place it down.
  • If you have a numnah attached to the saddle, place the saddle well forward near the withers and then slide it back into the correct position. Never slide a saddle forward as it will reverse the direction of the hair and cause the horse discomfort.
  • Check to see that the saddle is neither too far forward on the shoulder nor too far back on the loins. It should rest flat on the horse’s back and the seat should be level with the ground. The pommel (front arch of the saddle) should never be higher than the cantle, whereas the cantle will usually be noticeably higher than the pommel.
  • Ensure any numnah is lying flat and is well pulled up into the front arch of the saddle. It should be covering all areas of the saddle in direct contact with the horse’s back.
  • Doing up a girth
  • Once the saddle is in place, go quickly but quietly to the offside (right side) and attach the girth (unless it is already fitted to the saddle), then gently lower it. Check that all is flat and smooth under the flap.
  • Return to the nearside and reach under the stomach for the girth.
  • Gently pull up toward the girth straps.
  • Lift the saddle flap with your right arm so you can clearly see and do the girth up sufficiently but not too tight—remember that many horses can “blow out” when having their girths done up.
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About the Author: Fred Goodson has a passion for pets and animals. He has 4 dogs and is planning to have another one. He is also a blogger who writes about pets and animals. Currently, he is living in New Jersey.

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