Mexican Saddle vs Western Saddle: Similarities & Differences

By Zunnun Ahmed •  Updated: 03/02/23 •  6 min read

Let’s be honest- Mexican & western, both look quite similar. And common types of saddles.

And they have been popular among cowboys for more than a hundred years. But are they really the same? 

Absolutely not! 

Then what are the differences between the Mexica saddle vs Western saddle?

A Mexican saddle has a larger horn and wider seat compared to Western saddles. Besides, the fenders, skirts, and jockeys are also comparatively bigger in Mexican saddles. The shapes of the seats are also quite different from each other.

This is only a quick snapshot of the differences. 

Both these saddles follow different details for practical uses. So, Wanna know more about the similarities and differences between a Mexican saddle and a Western saddle?

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First, let’s talk about the history of Mexican and western Riding (& obviously saddle)

The Mexican saddle is popular as the Mexican charro saddle.

And you know what?

These are actually inspired by the Spanish saddle. 

And Today’s American western saddle is designed from charro saddles, and that is why they have a lot of similarities in the overall outlook. The main purpose of these saddles was to run cattle in a large area and travel long distances.

Believe it or not……

The history of Mexican riding dates back to before the independence war of the country. 

Ranch owners used to hire cowboys and provide them with unique clothes and saddles to show the owner’s wealth status. The cowboy’s task was to herd animals and to do other ranch-related tasks that required long equestrian travels. 

Interesting, isn’t it?

That’s why Mexican saddles were designed in a way that will keep the rider comfortable even after a long ride in different terrains, including mountains.

Charro saddles have a large horn for tying the rope of the animal to it, and today the Western saddles also have this feature that is absent in most of the other saddles. 

In fact, the Spanish saddle also did not have any horns. 

Not to mention, western riders rarely rope any animal. But the reason why Western cowboys followed a similar style is that they also needed something that would allow them to ride horses for a long time without having any problems. (Let’s read the best western saddles for Arabian horses).

Western Saddle
Western Saddle

What is the difference between a Mexican saddle and a Western saddle?

Basis for comparisonMexican saddleWestern saddle
Seat sizeThe seats are wider than western typeThe seats are medium to narrow sized
Horn sizeComparatively bigger horns to have more friction on the ropeSmaller horns as Western saddlers rarely use them
Overall shapeMore like a square shapeLong seats similar to the rectangular shape

So, are there any similarities between them?

Yes, there are a lot of similarities in overall shape and appearance between a Mexican saddle and a Western saddle. 

The horn: The most notable feature both these saddles have is the horn. It makes these saddles unique from other types of saddles.

Tree: both the Mexican charro and Western saddles are constructed from a frame that is known as the “tree”. They both use cantle, skirts, and jockeys to fit all the parts together to make a whole saddle.

Design & Construction: Both these saddles use similar features in construction, and that is why they look identical. But they have followed different sizes and details to make them unique from each other.

Related: Confused about Australian vs Western Saddles? Learn which one is the best fit for you with this comprehensive guide. Get ready to ride!

Why is the horn on a Mexican saddle so big?

Horns in Mexican saddles are not metal and that’s why they are built larger so that they do not break easily. 


The cap also needs to be bigger than the neck to have greater strength. However, it is not always necessary to have massive horns. 

But still, the Mexican charro saddles use huge horns today because they were traditionally made that way. These large horns are often referred to as the Guadalajara Horn.

Keep in mind one thing…..

A larger horn always means a slower horn. 

That is why western saddles use smaller horns than Mexican ones. A shorter horn enables the horse to have greater leverage and control heavier animals.

However, you will also find some western saddles to have larger horns. These are usually custom ordered by horse riders, who personally like bigger horns. 

But if you live on a ranch, you know they do not have much practical use today. That’s why they are usually kept small except for in the Mexican charro saddles. (Check different saddles brands)

Mexican saddle
Mexican saddle

Related: Unsure of the differences between a pony saddle and a horse saddle? Find out if they are the same and how to choose the right one for your needs.

Mexican or western saddle – What type of saddle is best for beginners?

Do you remember your first few days of horse riding?

As a Beginner, you always look for larger and deeper seats so that they can fit well on the seat, right?

And that’s why Mexican saddles are a great choice for beginners compared to western saddles for their bigger size. 

Nowadays, Western saddles are also made in similar styles to Mexican saddles. That is why beginners also can use them without any problem. 

As you already have understood, they are more or less the same with some. In the end, it depends on the rider’s preference, which one you like and feels comfy.

Related: Find out what you need to know about horse saddle accessories and get the ultimate guide! We have all the information you need to make sure your horse is comfortable and safe.


These saddles share a lot of similarities as well as some similarities that distinguish them.

But personally, I prefer the style, aesthetic, and outlook of the Western saddles. 

Today, you will not see many horse riders using Mexican charro. They are usually used in different events where the culture of Mexico is showcased. Other than that, most horse riders or cowboys today like the Western saddles.

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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