Posted on: 12 November 2021
There are so many different shapes and styles of western saddles. There are the big, wide roping saddles with massive horns. On the other end of the spectrum, there are round-skirted barrel saddles, some of which don't even have a horn. If you're planning on showing your horse, then you need a saddle that suits your discipline so you can look the part. On the other hand, if you're planning on trail riding, then you can pretty much choose any saddle that fits you and your horse. What features should you look for in a saddle suited for the trails?
If looks aren't a concern, then why make your horse carry more weight than they have to? A lighter saddle is easier on your horse's back and will help prevent fatigue on longer trail rides. Synthetic western saddles tend to be the lightest, but some small-skirt leather saddles can be pretty light, too. Look for a saddle that's around 15 pounds, at most.
When you're out on the trail, you never know when a deer is going to jump out and spook your horse — or when your mount is going to decide plastic bags are suddenly scary! A grippy seat may help you stay on your horse during spooks, spins, and other mishaps. Some western saddles have suede seats. Others have grippy synthetic seats. Either of these materials is fine; just avoid smooth leather seats if your main goal is to trail ride.
A Low Horn
Some western saddles don't have horns. This isn't very traditional, but it is fine for trail riding. If you like the more classic look of a horned saddle, though, you'll want to look for a saddle with a lower-set horn. This way, you're less likely to get jabbed in the stomach if you have to lean forward for some reason — which you probably will at some point on a long trail ride.
Some western saddles have what's known as cross-rigging. One strap comes from the front of the saddle, and the other from the back of the saddle. They connect to each other, and then to your girth. This type of rigging reduces pressure on the horse's girth area, which helps prevent soreness and fatigue on a long trail ride.
If you make the features above a priority, you'll end up with a western saddle that serves you well on the trails.Share