Horse Saddles 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Riding Comfort

By Zunnun Ahmed •  Updated: 12/09/22 •  9 min read

Most people think horse saddles are a supportive structure that comes up in modern times.


The earliest known saddle-like tools were fringed cloths or pads used by Assyrian cavalry around 700 BC. Yup, that’s right.

It’s way earlier than you think.

Not just equestrian equipment, this was a status symbol during the classic era. It gives some sort of padding as well as protection for a rider of the horse.

Fast forward to modern times……..

Today, modern equine saddles come in an extensive variety of styles, each pad designed for a specific riding discipline, and most importantly need careful fit to both the horse and the rider.

So are you really into horse riding and stuff related to equine? Let’s learn more about this fascinating world of the saddle.

So what is a horse saddle exactly?

what is horse saddle

Well, then we gotta know the root of the word first……

The word “saddle” comes from the Proto-Germanic language *sathulaz which means a seat for a rider. Make sense now?

This is basically the supportive structure that makes secure with the animal’s back. Though in most of the cases, we see saddles for horses, these are also used for donkeys, camels, and oxen.

And the main purpose of it?

In plain words- Security, support, and control over the horse. Let’s talk about the material now. Are horse saddles made of leather? Well, there are other raw materials too…..

And the irony is these are also made from animal skins (usually cowhide, pig, cattle, or sheep). 

History of horse saddles – Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

As the history says-Horses were long-ridden bareback.

Or with simple blankets!!!

But from the 3rd century BC to the 1st century AD, horsemen started to pay attention greatly to security during riding, especially for war. And the idea of the saddle came during this time probably.

The Eurasian nomads from the northern part of Iran are credited for developing an early form of padded structure for the rider with a rudimentary frame. And that was just the beginning.

And you know what?

A saddle-like form has been found in the Ukok Plateau, Siberia which is believed to be dated to 500-400 BC. Apart from that, saddle look alike structure was also found in other ancient art like-

That’s not all, there is also Post-classical West Africa. The record of an animal saddle found in the Mali Empire. I know Kinda a shocker, right? The main advancement of the saddle happened in the 16th and 17th centuries. Basically used by Knights during the Middle Ages with a higher cantle and pommel. Then came the era of modern saddles – English and Western saddles.

What is the type of saddle?

There are 2 basic types of saddles used In the Western world today for horse riding.

English saddle 

The most famous style of the saddle we used to see at big events like the Olympic and (FEI) equestrian disciplines.

No wonder, the root is from England. 

It was actually hugely popular in Europe for bullfighting and grew in popularity during the English Civil War. The thing that makes it different from stock is small but quite significant. The main feature that makes it unique is the location, and the flap length and shape.

Stock saddle

The Stock saddle is the fancy one.


It’s the ornamented saddle type that is usually used by cowboys in the Mexican region and the USA. This saddle is known for its high horn to hold the lariat. Oh, one more thing, this saddle is also kinda of popular as the western saddle.

Learn about the different saddle types and styles

The different parts of a horse saddle: an overview

The different parts of a horse saddle: an overview

As there is a lot of variety of saddles available in the market, mentioning specific parts is kinda tough. Rather we choose to talk about the most common parts.

More or less, these are the main parts of a horse saddle to function properly. The western saddle is more advanced and has some extra parts for added security.

Essential horse saddle accessories for every rider

Yes, a saddle gives security and comfort to both the rider and your pony. But that doesn’t mean it’s an all in all solution. 

Let me explain…..

Can you go on a trail ride without a First aid kit box? I guess the answer is No. That’s where you will need a good quality saddle bag that won’t give a lot of weight to your horse to bear but also accommodates all your necessary tools and kits. 

Like the bag, there are a few accessories that can make your riding experience a pleasant one.

Let’s make shopping saddles easy: a sneak peek of top horse saddle brands

Believe it or not- Some of the saddles available (even the fancy ones) completely jerk.

Sad but true!

There was a time when the saddle was made by only craftsmen who were really passionate about horse riding. The well-being of horses was their top priority to them. 

But that’s not the case anymore. 

Nowadays, the manufacturer (well some) only cares about the number of their sales figures- that’s it. But we have to confess that there are brands who are really dedicated to making a smooth horse riding experience for both the rider and the horse. Here are our absolute favorite brands for horse saddles.

Fitting guideline: How to fit a horse saddle like a pro?

The well-fitting is everything.


The correct fitting saddle gives you (& your horse) the freedom to move anywhere. And more than anything else, this is a must for a great riding position no matter what discipline you are planning for riding. So let’s see the art of fitting a saddle to make both rider and horse comfortable.

How to care for your saddle? Keeping your saddle in good condition


Every time you go riding, your saddle comes around to dust, sweat, and other elements. No wonder, it loses its shine. No matter how much pence you spend on your saddle, it won’t rain the value if you don’t take care of it regularly. 

And that’s why taking good care of your saddle is so important. Here is how to take care of your saddle to keep it in good condition.

Find the right saddle – A journey to make the right choice the next time 

horse saddle and pad buying guide

So, you have made up your mind to invest in a saddle?

Awesome – good choice.

But wondering how I know what horse saddle to buy. Don’t worry, we got you covered. This part is made by our Professional saddle fitter.


Size matters!

And maybe more than anything else. So, before making that final purchase, ensure that you choose the right seat size. You may ask how. Well, give it a trial if possible. Here is a basic idea of saddle sizes:

Youth12-13 inch
Small adult14 inch
Large adult15 inch
Extra-large adult17 inch

Note: The measurement is for the western saddle seat.

Apart from size, there are also a few things to consider like seat depth and seat slope. If you are planning extreme activity or riding, these are a must to check.


The ultimate goal of the saddle is comfort. The irony is that comfort is hugely related to the materials. There are different kinds of materials –

The most commonly used saddle is leather and most probably the classy one. We also recommend sticking with this one.


It’s the most crucial one. Make sure that your measurement completely gets in sync with the saddle size. Here is a rough measurement for fittings-

Your measurementSize of saddle
Below 16.5”15” saddle
16.5” to 20”16.5” saddle
20” to 21.5”17” saddle
21.5” to 23”17.5” saddle
23+”18” saddle

Zunnun Ahmed

We are a group of horse enthusiasts. We want to provide information and tips to help others learn more about horses, how to care for them, and how to enjoy them.

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