Monday, March 12, 2012

Tack 'Em Up! The English Saddle

There are many different types of saddles to choose from when horseback riding, but the main two are the english saddle and the western saddle. My personal favorite of the two is the english saddle. Don't get me wrong, I do own both an english (which is with me on the east coast) and a western saddle (which is on the west coast), but to me the english is just so much more comfortable for both horse and rider.

What is an english saddle?
The english saddle, according to the meriam webster dictionary, is a saddle with long side bars, steel cantle and pommel, no horn, and a leather seat supported by webbing stretched between the saddlebow and cantle. Like the one shown above in the picture, it is just a basic leather seat. Nothing blingy or extravagant, just leather and a saddle tree molded to fit (correctly) onto the back of the horse and to allow the rider movement.

Types and uses for the english saddle:
As I stated earlier, there are many different types of saddles. The english saddle type is no exception to that statement. Here are a few of the different kinds of english saddles:

The dressage saddle, which is used in... wait for it....dressage competitions!! No surprise there.

As you can tell from the picture, the cantle is much higher and allows for a much deeper seat for the rider.  The billets (which on the diagram are called girth straps) are longer so that the girth can be buckled at the horse's elbow instead of under the rider's leg. There may be some padding in front of the knee to help the rider hold position. The saddle flap is also longer to accomodate a longer leg position.

The saddle seat saddle. This one is used in saddle seat competitions....once again no surprise there.
The saddle seat (sometimes spelled saddleseat) is longer and flatter and places the rider's balance farther back. The pommel is cut back to allow freedom of the horse's shoulders, neck and front legs. There is no padding in front of the knee on the saddle flap.

The all purpose english saddle, which can be referred to as the general purpose saddle, is used for jumping over fences and/ or working the horse on the flat. This is the kind of saddle I have.

The all purpose english saddle is kind of a combination between a jumping saddle and a dressage saddle. It has the deeper seat of the dressage saddle with the forward flap of the jumping saddle. The flaps usually have padding in front of the knee.

Where you can purchase them:

There are a bunch of different brands that you can choose from when it comes to english saddles. With a wide range of brands and prices, you can't go wrong.

After deciding the type of saddle you need, you can find saddles on discount saddle sites such as Chicks discount saddlery, at the saddle's brand name website, such as Bates, or you can find them at auction sites, such as eBay.  I purchased my Cambridge International brand name all purpose saddle on eBay for a pretty good price.


  1. Is it MUCH harder to learn on an English saddle as opposed to a Western? And if not, if it's just 'different', would you recommend one or the other to be learned first?

    Do you have your feet in stirrups with an English saddle?

    1. IMHO, no, not Much harder. I would recommend whichever seat you are planning to take up be the seat that you learn first. And then later on, if you want to learn other seats or styles of riding, you can do that.

      Yes, you do put your feet in stirrups with the english saddle. You just buy those (stirrup leathers and irons) separately from the saddle.

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