When it comes to saddles. There are English saddles and Western saddles, and they do differ slightly in size and design. So, to ride with an English saddle. You will need to measure it up and ensure it is just right for you.
If you are new to the world of horse riding. You may feel overwhelmed by the amount of riding equipment, tools, tack, and everything else you need for your horse. One of a rider’s most important tools is the saddle. Your saddle has to fit you perfectly and has to comfortably suit the horse.
So, how do you measure an English saddle? Let’s find out in this simple and easy-to-follow guide. But first, let’s take a look at the English saddle, and how it compares to the Western saddle.
What is an English saddle?
An English saddle is used to ride horses for English riding styles and disciplines throughout the world. It is not just used in England or the United Kingdom. This saddle can also be used for Olympic equestrian sports, dressage horse riding, and other types of horse riding events. Where this style is preferred.
For the most part, an English saddle is based on a solid tree. Which is what we call the base of the saddle, where webbing, leather, and padding are added.
The tree of the English saddle is built of high-quality wood, reinforced steel, and many other strong materials. They do have some flexibility to allow movement and comfort when riding.
Leather is also added to the saddle to create a seat. It has flaps and panels coming down the sides to provide cushioning between the horse’s back and the saddle.
How does an English saddle differ from a Western saddle?
English saddles and Western saddles have different purposes. English saddles, as you could probably guess, are for English-style riding, whereas Western saddles are for Western riding. In Western riding, riders take both reins in one hand and allow the other to fall by their side.
This style of riding, the horse is ridden with little to no contact, as the rider uses their weight and neck reining to aid and guide the horse.
In contrast, during English riding, the rider makes direct contact with the horse’s mouth with the reins. The rider uses these to control and communicate with the horse, and the rider holds the reins with both hands for greater control.
The English saddle in comparison is much lighter and is designed to give the rider a closer contact and feel with the horse’s back.
The Western saddle is much larger and heavier, as it is mainly used for spreading the weight of the rider across a larger area of the horse’s back, for greater comfort for the rider and horse during long days farming or herding.
As the English saddle is designed to create closer contact with the horse, you have to ensure that it fits properly and is the right size for both your horse and the rider. So, how do you measure an English saddle?
How to measure an English saddle
When you are looking to purchase an English saddle, there are a few things you need to take into consideration. For instance, the saddle has to have the right configuration, as the seat size and flaps need to be just right.
The thing is, English saddles do not come cheap, so you’ll want to measure up beforehand and get it right the first time! To measure for an English saddle, you will definitely need to measure your current saddle.
To do this, first ensure that the saddle is level, as this will make things so much easier. Grab a measuring tape, and measure from the center of the button on the pommel at the front of the saddle.
For most adult riders, the saddle will need to be about 17 inches in length, but for teenagers, you may need to go down a few inches. Alternatively, if you are a tall rider, then a larger saddle may provide you with more support when riding.
Then, take the measuring tape from the pommel and measure to the middle of the cantle at the back of the saddle.
After measuring that distance, you’ll have your seat measurements good to go. But first, you should check if this size saddle works for you.
To do this, balance the saddle on the horse, and have your horse standing in a level location. Then, place your feet in the stirrups and sit on the saddle.
If you can fit your hands between where you are sitting and the back, then the seat is the right size for you. If not, then it’s too small and you need to size up. Check both the back and front, and you should have a hand’s width. If there is more of a gap, then the seat is too large.
Check the Flaps
After checking the seat size, you’ll have to consider the flaps. To do this, you need to check that the flip contours with your leg when in the stirrups. Your knee should be directly behind and in line with the forward point of the flap if the saddle fits properly.
However, if the knee falls within about an inch of the flap, then this should be perfectly fine too.
Next, you need to determine the length of the flap. This can be gauged by looking at the rider’s leg. You will need the flip to hit about a third of the way down the calf, but you will not want it to keep hitting the riding boots.
You can also measure the flap length by lifting the skirt of the saddle from the pommel to reveal the metal stirrup bar, then you will need to measure straight down from the center of this bar to the bottom of the saddle flap to determine the right flap length.
Finally, place your saddle upside down so the cantle is touching the floor and the base of the saddle is up and exposed. Then, you should see the gullet, and on either side of this, you will find the panels of the saddle. At the front of these panels, you will see four felt dots.
Locate the two felt dots closest to the gullet, and measure the distance between them. This should give you a dot-to-dot measurement that can help you find the right saddle tree width no matter which brand of saddle you go for.
To summarize, an English saddle is slightly different and smaller than a Western saddle, and you will need to measure it extensively to see whether it will be suitable for you and your horse. Luckily, with our guide, you can find the exact perfect fit and the saddle that works best for you.