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Category: English Saddle

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About English Saddle

When using an English saddle, know that they are commonly popular for English horse riding disciplines. Many people may think that an English saddle will be limited to horse riding only in the United Kingdom and other English countries. However, English riding disciplines have become popular in the Olympics and other games.

The specific design of English saddles is to allow the horse free movement during different English horse riding disciplines. Whether it is jumping, running, moving quickly, or going over broken fences, it is all possible with the help of English riding disciplines. The big difference between English and Western riding disciplines is that, unlike Western, one English saddle does not have a horn in front.

How are English saddles different from Western saddles?

The word “English saddle” is a collective term for similar saddles that are useful in different horse riding disciplines. You’ll mostly come across English saddles being practiced in English-speaking countries such as the United Kingdom. Also, it’s common to see people using it for show jumping, hunting seats, dressage, horse racing, polo, and other horse riding activities.

The following are the features of an English horse saddle:

  • An English horse saddle comes with panels. They come in pairs and have pads attached to the underside of their seats.
  • Though there can be new advancements in making English saddles, they are still constructed on the framework of a tree. Likewise, it sits under the actual design of the saddle.
  • In addition, English saddles also have leather flaps on each side of the saddle. Likewise, these flaps function to keep the horse safe from getting pinched with the stirrup.

Anyone new to these horse saddles can easily distinguish between the two as English saddles that do not have a horn at the front, which is common in Western saddles. Some of the Western saddles that are used in rodeo are highly in demand for endurance riding because of their horn feature.

Various Styles of English Saddles

As you look through the variety of English Horse saddles, you’ll know how significant each of them can be for different riding disciplines. Most importantly, they each have distinctions as per their location, the balance of the seat, and flap length & shape.

Here is the list of famous English saddles:

  1. All Purpose Saddle: These saddles are commonly helpful in eventing as they give a proper command. That’s the reason they are termed “all-purpose saddles” or general-purpose saddles. Its standard features include a deep seat and long, forward flaps. Usually, they have padding underneath for proper support and comfort while jumping. Many of you may not know, but “all-purpose” is the term that defines saddles that are useful for beginners or amateur riders. On the other hand, eventing saddles are the ones that are a little more expensive than the former ones.
  2. Jumping Saddle: These saddles are more on the “close contact” side as their seat is a little forward. A jumping saddle is specially designed for show jumping, fox hunting, hunt seat equitation, and other forms of eventing. If you look closely, the most distinctive feature is the forward-cut flap that allows a shorter length of the stirrup. Furthermore, the whole structure of a jumping saddle will not interfere with the rider’s position or the horse.
  3. Dressage Saddle: Unlike jumping saddles, a dressage saddle has a straight-cut flap that is quite long. They are usually per the rider’s leg position, as they do not have to perform any jumps or similar acts. More so, the pommel on a dressage saddle is a bit higher, and the deepest point is when the seat moves forward. Hence, you can easily place your leg in a relaxed position.
  4. Endurance Saddle: An endurance saddle originated from the military or police saddle. They are helpful in long-distance competitions for endurance horse riding. Henceforth, the purpose of this saddle is to provide comfort and balance to the rider for several hours. In addition, you can also use such a saddle for riding your horse if you are traveling somewhere for a couple of days.
  5. Side Saddle: The usefulness of a side saddle was primarily for women in the 19th century, as it was not modest for them to sit on a standard horse saddle. Thus, using a side saddle helped them sit sideways on a horse saddle and participate in parades, shows, and other horse riding exhibitions. Moreover, riders who have an injury can also usefully consider using a side saddle as the best option.

How are English Saddles made?

Similar to any type of horse saddle, English saddles are also constructed upon a solid tree’s wooden structure. It acts as a support and structure upon which the padding material and leather stand. Now, there are various parts of an English saddle that stay hidden underneath the visible part.

Here is some basic information about the construction of an English saddle –

  • The tree of an English saddle is generally made from high-quality wood.
  • Right underneath the tree sits the steel structure that provides better support.
  • On each side of the saddle are the horizontal bars that define how the saddle sits on the horse.
  • A good quality tree will always be flexible so that you can adjust it accordingly.

In modern times, you’ll come across saddles that consist of spring steel in their tree construction. More so, they are flexible and also provide better comfort and support to the rider and the horse. Likewise, many people are working on making synthetic trees so that they can be more durable over time.

Once the saddle’s structure or base is right on point, the leather covering part is now. All of the areas of a saddle are covered with leather on all sides, such as – the seat, flaps, and panels. Some saddlers also go for cowhide, pigskin, or another form of leather available for use. If you are buying an English saddle for sale for the first time, then it’s important that you through the essential points.

Fitting the English Saddle

It’s obvious advice to look for professional saddle fitters while adjusting an English saddle. Also, certain factors can be considered when you fit an English saddle. If you want help from someone, it will be the most convenient if you know nothing about saddle fitting.

Let’s say you have an English saddle and have no knowledge of how it fits properly. So, the improper fitting of an English saddle might hurt the horse’s pressure points and result in bruising, soreness, and other behavioral problems. In short, the saddle must be of proper fitting for the horse and the rider as well.

The proper way of Placing an English saddle

  • Before fixing the saddle on the horse’s back, make sure it’s in the correct position on its back.
  • Always make sure that the horse is standing in complete comfort as you place the saddle on it.
  • The rider’s weight should always be carried on the horse’s muscles through its rib area. If you are unsure where it lies, you can get help from a professional fitter.
  • It’s essential that you do not place your saddle too close to the horse’s neck, or it causes them discomfort during the ride.
  • There can be a high risk of the saddle slipping sideways when there’s no support on every end.

Even when you have proper knowledge of saddling a horse, it can be tricky to saddle them every time. Thus, you may take help from someone if they are expert in their field and knows how to manage the saddle fitting.

What if your English saddle doesn’t fit properly?

If your saddle doesn’t fit the horse’s back properly, chances are it can cause severe issues with the horse. In some cases, the horse’s health may go down and also may affect its muscles. Likewise, it will cause hollowness in the horse, and sharp pain may arise. Thus, your horse will not be able to perform any horse riding activity.

Here are some signs that help to identify the poor fit of a saddle – 

  • Sores on the horse’s back
  • Hollowness in the horse’s shoulder and raising their head
  • Tension in their jawline
  • Behavior improper while saddling or bridling
  • Grinding their teeth and showing aggression
  • Rough out hairs and saddle marks on the back

In some cases, where the saddle is too tight, horses start to develop white patches. It usually happens when the saddle fit is too tight with the strap of girth that ties it up.

Measuring the Width of an English Saddle

While measuring an English saddle may not be such a difficult task, some riders may be dilemmas about determining its width. To be sure, you can easily apply different methods of saddle measuring to be on the right side. Also, it’s important to provide your saddle with the right measurements for accurate saddle fitting.

On the other hand, if you are familiar with taking measurements by yourself, you can invest a little of your time and get the right information. The best way to measure the saddle’s width accurately is by lifting the flap up and taking the figures of the saddle’s tree from both sides. That’s another way, yet if you desire, you can also measure the whole saddle area.

Instructions for English Saddle Care

As you start using an English saddle for horse riding, there are certain things that you need to focus on.

Here are some points that will help you in taking care of your English saddle –

  • Always clean your leather saddle with a dry, clean, and soft sponge after using it.
  • Ensure you condition the saddle after every interval of one week so that the material stays on rightful terms for a long time.
  • Do not store your leather saddle in extreme temperatures like too hold or too cold. Otherwise, it will degrade the quality of the material used.
  • If you are too particular about your saddle’s leather quality, it’s better to use products that are available from various brands.

The fit of the Saddle

No matter what saddle you prefer, it’s most important to check the Saddle’s fit before riding on the horse’s back. You can even compare it with finding the correct shoe size for yourself. Just like that, finding the right fit of the Saddle for your horse’s back and yourself is significant.

We must accept that not every Saddle will fit our bodies. So, you must ensure the straps and their size to confirm the length of the flaps and other things. Henceforth, it will protect you and the horse from accidental falls and other injuries during horse riding.

Frequently Asked Questions

The correct size of an English horse saddle is determined by the seat size, which is typically measured in inches. To find the right size, measure the distance from the front of the saddle's pommel to the center of the cantle. It's important to consider your own comfort as well as the conformation of your horse when selecting the appropriate saddle size.
When fitting an English horse saddle, consider the wither clearance, gullet width, and overall balance of the saddle. The saddle should provide sufficient clearance over the horse's withers without causing pressure points. The gullet width should accommodate the horse's back shape, and the saddle should sit evenly and securely without tilting or rocking.
Common types of leather used in English horse saddles include full-grain leather, top-grain leather, and synthetic materials. Full-grain leather offers durability and develops a beautiful patina over time but may require more maintenance. Top-grain leather provides a balance between durability and affordability. Synthetic materials, such as synthetic leather or suede, are easier to care for but may lack the natural aesthetics and longevity of genuine leather.
Proper wither clearance is important as it prevents the saddle from putting excessive pressure on the horse's withers, which can cause discomfort and potentially lead to soreness or injuries. Adequate wither clearance allows the horse to move freely and comfortably.
When selecting an English horse saddle, look for high-quality leather that is durable, supple, and well-crafted. The leather should have a consistent color, even stitching, and smooth edges. Quality leather not only enhances the appearance of the saddle but also ensures its longevity and performance.
Key features of a high-quality English horse saddle include a well-designed tree, comfortable padding, balanced weight distribution, adjustable girth straps, durable billets and stirrup bars, and quality stitching. The saddle should provide a secure seat and allow for proper leg position while riding.
The design of an English horse saddle plays a crucial role in performance. A well-designed saddle allows for proper weight distribution, balance, and freedom of movement for the horse. It also provides the rider with a secure and comfortable seat, allowing for effective communication and optimal riding performance.
The main parts of an English horse saddle include the pommel, seat, cantle, panels, gullet, billets, stirrup bars, and flaps. These components work together to provide support, comfort, and balance for both the rider and the horse.
Proper maintenance of an English horse saddle involves regular cleaning and conditioning of the leather, particularly focusing on the areas that come into contact with the horse's sweat. Use saddle soap and leather conditioner to keep the leather supple and prevent it from drying out or cracking. Additionally, inspect the saddle for any wear or damage and address it promptly.
In some cases, English horse saddles can be adjusted to fit different horses by using interchangeable gullet plates or adjustable saddle trees. However, not all saddles have this feature, so it's important to consider the specific saddle model.


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