Any modern equestrian knows that a good saddle can be the difference between winning first place and finishing last.
While there are people who still prefer to ride horses bareback, saddles are necessary when competing or when learning English and Western riding techniques.
A riding saddle is a structure fastened to a horse to support a rider or other load. Saddles are generally made for horses, though there are specialized saddles for camels, oxen, and other riding animals.
Modern saddles come in various designs and styles; it is recommended that saddles for professional and expert riders be custom made that suits the shape and size of their body and the horse.
Cost of Horse Riding Saddles
Before purchasing one, it is essential that you have a deep understanding of the different horse riding saddle types so you can decide the perfect one for you and your horse. Specialist saddle price tends to be pricier more than standard ones, but the rewards are worth it.
General Purpose Saddle
Beginners and intermediate riders are familiar with this saddle. It is an all-purpose horse riding saddle that can be used for various types of riding. If you just bought your first horse and are trying to get a temporary saddle to learn with, this one is your best bet.
This saddle, with deep seats and a long but forward flap, is common in riding schools. Its versatility makes it compatible with a diverse group of riders with different abilities. General purpose saddles can be used by the rider for basic jumping, hacks, hunts or dressage.
Price: $450 to $2,500
As its name suggests, this saddle is perfect for hunting, designed to push the rider’s weight back in the saddle and feet towards the stirrups. Originally made for traditional fox hunting, hunting saddles have a low cantle and pommel to add comfort when jumping, especially over large fences.
Price: $1,500 to $3,100
Race saddles are lightweight with a flat seat, very short stirrup leathers and a cantle with short and forward cut saddle flaps. These are specifically designed for the rider to crouch over the saddle so the horse can speedily gallop with low wind resistance.
The smaller flaps improve the rider’s lower leg security over the fences.
Price: $700 to $900
Also called close contact saddles, these are ideal of stadium jumping and hunt seat equitation. Jumping saddles have a flat seat and much larger saddle flaps to push the rider slightly forward and give increased leg support, while the padding in front of the flaps helps protect and stabilize the lower leg when jumping.
To sustain the two-point or half-seat position, some saddles are made with padded knee rolls.
Price: $800 to $4,300
This saddle is designed for advanced riders to have a centrally balanced seat while performing a Dressage test and flat-work competitions. With deep seats that look like U-shaped curves and flaps cut straight, the Dressage saddle sits the rider deeply for closer leg contact with the equine and more precise moves.
Price: $600 to $3,800
Made for western riding, these saddles are used on horses working on ranches in the Midwest. These are more popularly known as “cowboy” saddles due to their frequent appearance in cowboy movies and rodeos.
In front of the saddles is a horn to help with balance and most are designed with intricate and colorful Western patterns and made from brown leather.
Price: $500 to $2,200
Australian Stock Saddle
The Australian Stock saddle is similar to the English saddle in style. However, it has a higher cantle, a much deeper seat, and extra knee pads in the front to further improve security for those riding for long periods or during harsh conditions.
Australian Stock saddles are particularly made for cattle ranchers, trail riding, and endurance riding.
Price: $1,000 to $1,800
If you are not fully comfortable with either riding bareback or with a full saddle, then the treeless saddle is right for you! This leather saddle has a smaller pommel and a more lightweight cantle to facilitate closer contact with the horse and still give your body freedom.
Horses with difficult to fit back could benefit from treeless saddles, too. A rider using this saddle is encouraged to wear breastplate as the lighter weight of the saddle might make it less secure than others.
Price: $800 to $2,900
When you are required or you prefer to ride a horse with your legs crossed, a sidesaddle may be used. It has roots dating back to the Medieval period when women wear long skirts making riding astride impractical and is often viewed as immodest.
The two pommels in sidesaddles hold the rider’s legs in place, with the right leg on the top of the top pommel and left thigh under the lower pommel. This technique makes riding and jumping possible.
Price: $500 to $1,300
Young children riding ponies and starting their equestrian career early would need a saddle made specifically for kids. Kid saddles comprise of cotton with little scraps of plastic and leather.
Some kid saddles are also customized to improve the child’s comfort which included a handle in front to assist the small chilled with balance.
Price: $500 to $1,000
Saddles are the most expensive horse-riding tools you will buy – well, next to the horse of course. Before buying a saddle, consult an expert to help with determining proper sizing. Crafted saddles of excellent quality are made from fine grain leather and have real silver fittings.
Be sure to pick out a saddle type that matches your riding technique or the competition you will be joining.
The number one thing to look for in a saddle is the perfect fit. Too small a saddle will bump you against the pommel with every stride; too large and you will not be able to have enough leg support.
If you find brand new saddles too expensive, second-hand items are available online. You would have to compromise on the flawless style but overall, a well-maintained used saddle will make a difference.