The saddle you use allows for a direct connection between you and your horse. If a saddle does not fit your horse or you properly, injuries and risks could occur. Fit is of extreme importance with any saddle but is especially important for English saddles.
Because an English saddle distributes the weight of the rider over a smaller surface area, you need to make sure you get a perfect fit. If you ask yourself, “What size English saddle do I need?” allow this information to guide you.
What Is an English Saddle?
English saddles are smaller and lighter than Western saddles, intended to give riders more intimate contact with their horse for better direction and guidance. English saddles are used in all English riding disciplines, including the following:
- Fox hunting
With English riding, the rider uses the reins to directly control their horse at all times. English saddles, because of their size, allow riders to remain closer to their horses, so they can better give commands on direction and speed in all types of English riding.
Important Parts of an English Saddle
There are multiple components of English saddles. Knowing the important parts will help riders to better understand how their saddle works with English riding and how they can measure to get the perfect fit.
- The seat is considered the most important part for horse riders. This is where the rider sits while riding their horse. The seat should be comfortable and offer support for all types of English riding events. Measurements must be taken to ensure the rider fits in the seat properly.
- The gullet is the structural support under the saddle seat. Gullets are made according to the measurements of the horse. The gullet is the channel that rests directly over the horse’s spine.
- The cantle is the back of the seat. It helps support the rider’s lower back and keep them comfortably situated.
- The jockey is the small flap of leather that covers the stirrup bar and allows for a smooth transition between the seat and the flap.
- The flap hides the saddle’s billets and girth.
- The panels provide superior cushioning between the saddle and the horse. The panels are located underneath the seat, on both sides of the gullet.
- Billets are used to attach the girth to the saddle. On English saddles, there are three billets on each side.
- The girth is used to hold the saddle in place on the horse. The girth is tightened by the rider, to ensure the saddle is held snugly in place.
- The stirrup is a triangular frame made of metal. Stirrups are where the rider’s foot rests while riding their horse.
Each of these important components helps to ensure a horse is properly saddled and both horse and rider are safe. Proper measurements must be taken of both horse and rider to ensure the right size English saddle is purchased.
How to Measure for an English Saddle
One of the first things you will need to do is measure for the seat. This involves measuring your thigh from the hip bone to the knee. To measure accurately, be seated with your feet flat on the floor. The measurement of your thigh is the size of the seat you need on your English saddle.
For your horse’s comfort, you must measure for the gullet carefully. To ensure a proper fit, it is wise to take a wither tracing. This can be done with the following steps.
- Use a flexible but stable wire and place it two inches from the horse’s shoulder blades, across the withers. Bend it to fit.
- Next, take the bent wire and lay it over a piece of paper, and trace the shape of the wire with precision.
- If you are unsure of the measurements for the gullet, you can always seek a professional for measurements.
Now, you know how to measure yourself and your horse for the perfect fit in an English saddle. If the gullet fits the withers of your horse and the seat is the right size for you, riding your horse will be comfortable for you both.
English saddles are lighter and smaller than Western saddles, so the right fit is essential for all English riding disciplines. Without a correct fit, it is not safe to use an English saddle for hunting, jumping, or eventing because your horse and you could become injured.
With the information above, you should now be able to answer your questions regarding what size English saddle you need. Measuring carefully and using the above steps will make it easier for you to purchase an English saddle that will comfortably and securely fit you and your horse, no matter what English riding discipline you practice.