Are you sitting comfortably ? choosing the right saddle


Your choice of saddle is very important as your enjoyment of horse riding will depend on it. Indeed, a badly chose saddle can discomfort, or even injure, your horse, making both horse and rider less competitive.

The right saddle will give you comfort and allow you to sit in a position that suits your chosen discipline.

Each discipline is itself dependent on the body shape of both horse and rider, and on the frequency of riding.

Here, you can read our tips to help you make the right choice.

Choosing according to use

1- Beginner’s saddle

2- general Purpose saddle

3- Jumping saddle

4- Dressage saddle

5- Western and Endurance saddles

1) Features of a beginner’s saddle

–       Suited to those starting out in horse riding (particularly small children).

–       Comfortable (wider seat).

–       Classic position (more concave seat).

–       More pronounced, or even oversized, pommel and cantle, to keep a child sitting stably on the seat.

–       Monkey grip.

2) Features of a general purpose saddle

–       A multi-use saddle, not designed for any specific discipline.

–       A good position for working on the flat.

–       Comfortable for small jumps (flaps angled slightly forwards).

–       Pleasant for leisure riding.

–       Semi-concave seat.

– Wider seat, for greater comfort when hacking.

3) Features of a jumping saddle

–       The orientation of the flaps (angled forwards) allows the rider to ride with shorter stirrup leathers and to stay balanced when jumping.

–       Seat with thinner panels.

–       Knee rolls front and back to stabilise leg position.

4) Features of a dressage saddle

–       Long flaps to allow the legs to extend downwards (almost perpendicular to the seat).

–       Comfortable.

–       Concave seat (rider seated stably on the saddle).

–       Often, long straps (increasing contact between rider and horse).

5) Features of western riding or endurance saddle

–       Comfort for the rider: wide seat.

–       Comfort for the horse (rider’s weight well distributed, wide, larger panels).

–       Several places from which to hang saddlebags.

–       Good withers clearance, giving greater comfort for the horse.

Leather or synthetic?

The two materials each have both advantages and disadvantages. It all depends on how you use your saddle!


–       A natural, high-quality material

–       Traditional

–       Generally more attractive aesthetically

–       Long-lasting if well cared for

–       Slow to dry after heavy rain

–       Needs regular care


–       More economical

–       Easy care

–       Dries quickly after rain

–       Lightweight

–       Can heat up with friction

–       Shorter-lived, especially with intensive riding


The seat should provide a space that is comfortable to sit on but not to large, so that the rider can sit as stably as possible.

Classic saddles have their size measured in inches, ranging from 14″ to 18.5″, in increments of 0.5″. The “normal” size is 17″ or 17.5″.

These listed saddle sizes should fit the listed waist sizes

  • 16” 14 Years
  • 16.5”   34 waist
  • 17” 36-38 waist
  • 17.5”   38-40 waist
  • 18”      42-44 waist
  • 18.5”   46-48 waist

Other factors also affect which saddle you need and I will cover these in following posts