Riding

The Perfect Fit

Find the right saddle for you and your horse.

No one would step onto a basketball court to compete wearing sneakers that don't fit. That's a sure way to guarantee defeat. A major part of any competitive sport is having the proper equipment. Finding the right size of saddle to fit you and your horse is no different.

AQHA Corporate Partner Tex Tan offers this advice on finding the perfect fit for your next saddle:

The Right Fit for You
Comfort is the most important factor when buying a saddle. You must be able to relax when you ride, so you can enjoy it. The comfort of the seat is just as important as the comfort of your clothes or footwear.

The Right Fit for your Horse
When you put a saddle on your horse, there should be about a three-finger distance in the front from the horse's withers to under the front swell of the saddle. The saddle should not rock or bridge. Sometimes a special pad can be used if you don't have the three-finger rule under the front swell. The saddle should be level when cinched up.

If your horse has a short back, a round-skirted saddle will fit better so the bars of the tree won't put pressure on the kidneys. If the rear of the saddle is up after you cinch the saddle on your horse, or if the saddle wants to roll when you try to get on, it does not fit your horse. Most saddles will fit the same if used on the same horse.

Some "flex" saddles have neoprene rubber under the skirts between the woolskin that helps conform to different horses' backs. It also makes the saddles lightweight and good for trail riding.

Looking to buy a horse? AQHA can help you with this important process with the Buying and Owning Your First Horse report. This detailed report helps you choose the best horse for your interests, plus it explains costs involved in owning a horse and gives advice on what you'll need to take care of your new horse.

Room to Move

AQHA Professional Horseman Orin Barnes of Canyon, Texas, offers his advice on choosing the best saddle seat size:

"If a saddle seat fits you perfectly, get an inch bigger so you have room to move. If you get in a wreck, you don't want to get stuck. You have to be able to move some in your saddle. You can't rely on a saddle to hold you in. Most cutters ride flat 17-inch seats. Small seats can sometimes catapult you if you don't have some room to move. You must be able to get back where you need to be in your seat."

Let AQHA's Buying and Owning Your First Horsebe your guide as you shop for your first horse.This valuable report walks you through the process of choosing a horse, including the best horses for kids and novice riders. You'll also get helpful information about disaster preparedness and developing a meaningful relationship with your new horse.