If you’re thinking about buying a new saddle, a Western saddle might be the way to go. These saddles offer excellent padding and comfort, while also being a stylish and decorative accessory for both you and your horse.
However, there are so many different types of Western saddles out there, where do you begin? What should you be looking for in one? What are the advantages of using a Western saddle? And what really is a Western saddle?
Well, fortunately for you, we have complied a buying guide giving you all the information you need to know about the best Western saddles. We have even included some of our top picks on the market today, so you can be the most stylish rider at the show. Take a look below.
What Is A Western Saddle?
A Western saddle is, as the name suggests, a type of saddle that originated in the Old West and were inspired by the saddles used by Mexican vaqueros, who were horse trainers and cattle handlers from Mexico.
These saddles are the type of saddles you’ll see on TV in Western movies, and differ greatly from English saddles by tending to be bigger, bulkier and having more padding overall. English saddles were designed to provide comfort to the rider and a secure seat and, while Western saddles traditionally gave a rider a cool and unique aesthetic, today these saddles are also designed to be used over long distances and provide a comfy ride.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of A Western Saddle?
There are a few pros and cons of a Western saddle.
First and foremost, Western saddles come in a range of different types, so there are lots of different options for you to choose from. This also means there is a saddle out there for you no matter what the occasion is, whether you are show jumping or just simple doing some trail riding.
Western saddles generally have more padding than English saddles and are designed with comfort in mind, so they are great if you’re looking for something that will hold you in place but won’t hurt you over a long period of time.
The large range of Western saddles also means there are a lot to choose from on the market, so even if your budget is small, you will be able to find something suitable. You will be able to find saddles made of different materials, too.
The downside to Western saddles is that they are heavier than other saddles and this can make them more difficult to transport. Because they are bigger in design, they also take up more room than English saddles.
What To Look For In The Best Western Saddle
There are a few things to look for in a Western saddle to ensure you are getting the right saddle for your horse and the right saddle for yourself as a rider. With so many different types out there and different factors to consider, it’s important not to buy the first saddle you see, and instead take a look at the different aspects below to ensure you get the best western saddle for you.
Type of Saddle
There are a number of different types of Western saddles out there, so before you even thinking about purchasing one, you’ll need to decide which one is going to be right for you.
Barrel Racing Saddle
Barrel racing saddles are a smaller type of saddle and are generally quite lightweight. This offers maneuvrability, while also keeping you safe and secure. They are great for a range of different situations.
Trail saddles are good for horse riders that, you’ve guessed it, go trail riding! They are also a lightweight saddle but come with an extra padded seat to keep you comfortable. These saddles are also sometimes known as pleasure saddles.
A roping saddle is designed to be used at a roping event as they offer great freedom and maneuvrability. They give the rider space to free their hips and upper body for roping cattle, but keep you firmly in place, too. They also come with low forks, tall horns and roper stirrups.
Flexible Tree Saddle
Flexible tree saddles provide a more comfortable and pleasant riding experience for your horse, while also providing you with a comfortable riding experience. They feature very rigid forks and cantles, with flexible bars that allows the saddle to move in time with your horse.
The size of your saddle is one of the most important factors to consider, because if it doesn’t fit you or your horse, it is not going to work! The wrong sized saddle will either be uncomfortable for you or for your horse, and could also be potentially dangerous, particularly if you are not secure when sitting on it.
Most saddles come in a range of different sizes, usually sizes 14 through 17. 14 is a good size for young and small adults, while 15 is usually the right size for most average-sized adults. 16 and 17 being better sizes for larger riders. There are some saddles that are specially designed for children.
The seat of a saddle can be divided up into several smaller components, including the horn, swell, cantle and skirt. All of these components will differ depending on the saddle you buy, and will come in lots of different shapes and sizes.
The rigging of the saddle relates to the dee rings on both sides that are used to connect the saddle to the horse. Different types of rigging offer different levels of comfort for both the horse and the rider.
Western saddles tend to feature a lot of padding and cushioning, but the amount is still something you should consider before purchasing. Some provide additional support and cushioning, especially saddles that are designed for longer rides. It is worth noting that extra cushioning and padding can add extra weight to the saddle.
Material and Color
Many people buy a saddle based on what it looks like and, while this shouldn’t be the deciding factor for you, it is something to consider when purchasing.
Western saddles are usually made from leather, suede or synthetic materials. The material you choose will be based on your own personal preference, as well as your budget.
Saddles can also come in a wide array of colors. The color you choose will, again, be up to personal preference. The colors usually include classic blacks and browns, as well as unique colors like pink and red that can make you are your horse stand out.
As we mentioned above, there are lots of different saddles out there on the market, so finding the best western saddle within your budget shouldn’t be too difficult. That being said, the more expensive the saddle, the more likely it is to be of better quality, be more comfortable and last you longer.
It is a good idea to check the warranty of the saddle you’re thinking of buying before purchasing, so you can be sure you will be covered if something goes wrong. Some manufacturers will offer a few months warranty, while others will offers years. Some will also void the warranty if the saddle has been used by the incorrect rider and has been broken, so ensure you check the details before buying.
Now we know all about the different types of saddles, what a Western saddle is and what to look for in one, it is time to take a look at the best saddles. Below are some of our favorite Western saddles, all available to you on Amazon.
The Best Western Saddle — Reviews
1) Orlov Hill Leather Co Brown Leather Western Barrel Saddle
This Western saddle from Orlov Hill Leather Co is a 100% brown leather saddle that is hand tooled and has a wonderful antique style. Great for trail riding or barrel racing, this saddle features a brown suede 4 inch seat for comfortable ride and a roughout jockey and fender for security.
This saddle provides excellent traction and stability and the underside is made from well padded fleece for the comfort of your horse. There is a 6.75″ gullet and a 3″ long horn, too, as well as oiled leather latigo and billet straps included. What’s more, the fiberglass tree is very lightweight, making this saddle easy to move around.
This Western saddle from Acerugs is made from synthetic cordura material that makes it super lightweight and easy to handle. Weighing about 18 lbs, this saddle still provides great comfort with a thickly padded memory foam material seat.
It can be used as a lightweight trail or show saddle and features a crystal accent trim along the skirting and tack set and silver Texas Star conchos that give the saddle a bit of bling and will really make you stand out from the crowd. It also comes in a range of different fun colors. The saddle has nylon binding that ensure the saddle stays tear proof and is easy to clean, too.
What’s more, you receive a matching headstall, reins, breast collar and pad for free with this saddle.
This Western horse saddle is black cordura synthetic saddle that comes with colored crystals and accents. Perfect for those who are looking for a saddle that will stand out from the crowd, this saddle comes in a number of different colors yet is also super lightweight and practical, great for both you and your horse.
A trail saddle, this saddle has a padded colored ostrich seat and horn that will keep you secure and safe as you ride. It also has colored nylon binding that ensures the saddle stays tear proof and is easy to clean. What’s more, the underside of the saddle is made of soft fleece, so it is comfortable for your horse, too.
This Western horse saddle from Great American is made from high quality genuine skirting leather. The seat is 16 inches and is a roughout seat, also made from leather for a comfortable yet secure fit. The cantle measures 4.5 inches and the gullet 6.75 inches.
With a square skirt and a quality synthetic wool base, this saddle is also comfortable for your horse. The tree is super strong, yet doesn’t make the saddle too heavy, either. Excellent for roping trails, endurance and pleasure riding, it comes with a matching headstall, breast collar and front and back cinch straps, too.
Plus, with tan coloring, this saddle gives you a classic and authentic Western look that will be sure to impress.
Another Western saddle from Acerugs, this saddle is made of 100% cowhide leather and is the perfect trail saddle as it offers comfort and support for long hours out on the trail. It also features a rounded skirt that is excellent for short backed horses.
The hand carved floral tooling, leather stirrups, and numerous ties give style and class to this saddle, so you can really stand out from the crowd. The numerous “O” rings are excellent for lots of accessories, too.
There is in-skirt rigging and nylon reinforced leather cinch straps that provide extra security and strength while you’re riding, and the well padded fleece underskirt will give your horse extra comfort. Even better, this saddle includes a free matching headstall, reins and breast collar.
This semi-quarter Western saddle from Wintec is ideal for trail and leisure riding, offering a stable and comfortable seat. With the look of grained leather, this abrasion-resistant saddle with a semi-quarter horse tree is constructed of high-impact plastic and features a microfiber suede seat for extra grip and comfort.
It’s extremely lightweight and easy to care for and has swinging fenders and a latigo girthing system. It also comes with with a large 25″ x 12″ fleece-lined square skirt to keep your horse comfortable, too, as well as stainless steel dees, silver conchos, 2″ bell stirrups and quick change stirrup buckles. It comes in a black color and multiple sizes.
7) Wintec Western Trail Saddle
Another saddle from Wintec, this Western trail saddle is a closer contact seat that allows you to feel closer to your horse, while still receiving the same support a traditional Western saddle would offer you. Made of synthetic Duraleather, this seat is padded with memory foam for extra comfort.
It also has a comfort ride saddle tree, cut out fenders with an EZ fold feature, wide trail stirrups, longer saddle tie strings and a square skirt, all which work together to give you an easy to use and simple saddle with great results.
The weight of the saddle is approximately 28 lbs, while the swell is 12.5, the horn is 3” and the gullet measures 6.75″ x 7.75”. The color of the saddle is traditional brown that gives a sleek, smart look.
8) Orlov Hill Leather Co Bling Show Western Saddle
This Orlov Hill Leather Co Western saddle is designed to turn heads, making it perfect as a show saddle. It is tooled with a detailed floral design and features studs which give the saddle some bling, so it will really stand out form the crowd.
The saddle is made from 100% leather and has stainless steel fitting hardware. There is a well padded black suede seat for comfortable ride and to keep you stable and secure while riding. The tree is made from wood and fiberglass to ensure the saddle is lightweight and durable.
The horn measures 3” and the gullet 6 3/4”. An oiled leather latigo and billet straps are included, too. What’s more, the underside of the saddle is padded well with fleece, so your horse is comfortable, too.
9) mroyalsaddles.com Kids Leather Western Saddle
This Western saddle from mroyalsaddles.com is designed for kids and a great place to start if you have little ones who are interested in riding or are looking for a training saddle. Weighing only 10 lbs, this saddle is made from durable leather and can be used on a miniature horse, shetland pony or a normal sized pony.
It is designed for kids ages 5 to 10 years old and can be used for pleasure and trail horse riding. The stirrups range from 20″- 26”, while the horn measures 2” and the skirt 17″ x 15”. Like the adult saddles on our list, this youth saddle has a tooled design so will still give even the youngest riders that cool Old West look and make them stand out in the field.
10) Orlov Hill Leather Co Tooled Western Saddle
Another Western saddle from Orlov Hill Leather Co, this saddle is also made of 100% leather. It has a unique antique design with a special tooled design and black and brown coloring to really make you stand out from the crowd.
It has many of the same dimensions as the other Orlov Hill Leather Co saddles, with a 6.75″ gullet and 3″ long horn. The 4” seat is padded and comfortable for longer rides, and is made of suede to help keep you positioned and secure while riding. Extra features are a roughout jockey and fender to help improve traction and stability.
The wood and fiberglass of this saddle ensures it is durable and sturdy, while also keeping the saddle lightweight and portable. The underside of the saddle is padded, so it is also comfortable for your horse, and the hardware is made from stainless steel.
Make you and your horse feel more comfortable when you put down this saddle pad. Designed for use with western saddles, it measures 30” by 30” and will fit under most saddles. It has a contoured design that matches the shape of your horse’s back and will not interfere with the fit or ride of your saddle.
Thanks to the wool blend, the pad pulls moisture away from your horse as it sweats to keep the animal from getting too hot. Weaver chose top grain leather for this pad to help it last longer and added a thick spine to help it retain its original shape. You’ll find that it uses a lot of wool on both the top and bottom to keep it from rubbing against your saddle and the horse. The saddled pad also has a few leather accents that give it a unique look.
Western Saddle FAQ’s
What is the difference between a Western saddle and an English saddle?
Western saddles and English saddles are the two main types of saddles. The biggest difference between the two is that Western saddles are usually much bigger and bulkier than English saddles. This is because they are designed to spread the weight of the rider out over a greater area on the horse’s body and thereby provide a more comfortable experience to both the horse and the rider, while an English saddle allows the rider to feel closer to the horse.
Another difference is the riding experience. With Western saddles, the rider holds both reins in one hand and has no real contact with the horse’s mouth. They use their own weight and seat to adjust direction. With English saddles, riders usually take one rein in each hand and pull the reins to adjust the speed and direction.
How do I know which size of saddle to choose?
It can be difficult to find the right saddle size if you are new to horse riding, but there are some rules to follow. There should be four inches between the front of your body and the fork, and your seat should be placed of the cantle, without pressing up against it.
Most saddles come in a range of different sizes, usually sizes 14 through 17. Generally, 14 is a good size for young and small adults, while 15 is usually the right size for most average-sized adults. 16 and 17 being better sizes for larger riders. There are some saddles that are specially designed for children.
Western saddles can come in all different shapes, sizes, comfort levels, aesthetics and support and buying a new saddle can seem daunting. However, Western saddles are popular for a reason, and with many different types out there, finding one that works for you can actually be a fun process. Make sure to look at all the different factors that make up a good saddle, and checking out the best western saddles we recommend in our list above is a great place to start. Which one do you think you’re going to go for?