Saddle Your Horse Correctly

Saddle Your Horse Correctly

Position your western saddle correctly for a great ride and a comfortable horse.

Saddling a horse

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  • Place the pad or blanket high on the withers, then slide it backward onto the withers and back.  If a blanket is used, always place the folded edge toward the horse’s withers.  The front folded edge should align with the middle of the horse’s shoulder.
  • Pick up the saddle and bring the right stirrup and cinch over the seat. Holding the gullet in your left hand and the cantle in your right hand, gently place the saddle on the horse’s back. 
  • The front edge of the pad should be in line with the center of the shoulder.  The saddle should be centered and placed about 3 inches behind the front edge of the pad.  Place your hand under the blanket, pulling the blanket into the gullet of the saddle so it does not wear on the withers and back.
  • Go to the right (off side) of the horse and gently lift the stirrup and cinch down.  Check the saddle and pad to be sure the pad is smooth and the cinch is not twisted.
  • Then from the left (near side), hook the stirrup over the horn and pull the cinch under the horse. The cinch is either buckled into the latigo strap or tied in a latigo knot.
  • Before mounting, make a final check of your cinch and tack.

From the Certified Horsemanship Association Composite Horsemanship Manual. CHA certifies instructors and trail guides, accredits equestrian facilities, publishes educational manuals and hosts interactive conferences. Visit CHA at