Equestrian Life is an online community for horse people.
We bring together horse people across all disciplines, breeds and sports.
We invite you to connect with others who love horses as much as you do.
Mounting a western saddle on a horse requires first brushing down the horse's back, laying down the pad, sliding the saddle on from the front to the back and adjusting the girth and cinch to fit properly. See a demonstration of saddling a horse with helpful advice in this video on horseback riding.
Hi I'm Rick Gore from Travis Equestrian Center. Today, we're going to talk about how to western saddle a horse. I got my western saddle here, this is a good way to sit in your saddle when you're relaxing to give your horse a break out on a trail. Then when you need to saddle him back up, your pad's sitting upright, your saddle is ready to go and you can re-saddle your horse. Before you saddle a horse of course you always want to inspect your horse, make sure there's no grass, burrs, rocks, sand, dirt, etcetera. You got to brush, you want to brush him down. Throw your pad on him, again I'm going to check my pad. Grass, spurs, dirt, sand, anything that's going to damage or hurt or rub into my horse, I wouldn't want it on my back, I don't want it on my horse's back. When you put a saddle on your horse, you always want to put it farther up then where it's going to go. Natural lay of a horse hair is down like this, if you put it in the back and you slide it forward, it messes up the hair, it's not comfortable. You put it in front and you slide it back to where it goes, make sure the hair has got a natural lay, it's comfortable. Make sure it's good and centered, spot there for the shoulders. Then before I throw on my saddle, again, I'm going to check the bottom of my saddle here, all the sheepskin, make sure there's no grass, burrs, sticks, rocks, anything that's going to stick. Even though I have a saddle pad, this is going to protect my saddle and my horse. Doesn't matter on which side you throw it on, the trick to getting a saddle is a whipping motion. I'm going to use my knee, you notice my knee right here, I'm going to push the saddle up and it's going to throw it so I don't have to use all my upper strength. So this knee throws my saddle, this whipping motion makes the stirrup and everything spin outward and stay away from the horse and then if I do it in a good, natural motion, it goes right on and I set the saddle down, I don't throw it or drop it. I don't have any straps underneath the saddle, none on my things, none on my different cinches are tucked underneath causing bulges, I want to make sure everything lays freely, stirrups straight, there's nothing that's going to bother or bind my horse. Again, horse always has two sides. So I want to do the same thing on this side. I usually have more pad upfront because when you're riding a saddle pad will always move back normally, unless you're doing a lot of up, downhill riding. Your pad's going to move back. So if you get this too close to the saddle, you're going to end up with your saddle digging into your horse. So keep a little extra pad, if you have any extra pad you notice I don't have a whole lot of extra back here, all my extra is upfront. This makes sure that if my pad slides back I still got protection for my horse so my saddle's not directly on his skin. After I get all this nice and laid out, again when you're saddling a horse you don't want to be sneaking around. I see a lot of people being gentle, being smooth and slow because I don't want to scare him and I don't want to make him nervous, no, don't do that. You want your horse to know that when you're doing things with him, it's normal, things are going to happen, things are going to flop, your hat's going to fall off, different things are going to happen and the horse should know you know what, no big deal, dad's just messing with me. Get my front cinch underneath him, make sure his fur is nice. Same thing with the pad. I don't want to put the cinch back here and pull it up here to cinch it because I mess his hair up. So if I put my cinch up, I want to go a little forward so I know it's going to come back and be nice and smooth. One way through the cinch, keep it nice and snug. So my leather goes nice and smooth, everything looks nice, I don't have any bulges, bumps, I don't have any twist of leather, these are the the things that will irritate and hurt a horse as you're riding him over time and may give him a blister. So the front stirrup is done. I'm going to move to my rear cinch, or the front cinch is done, excuse me. I got my rear cinch here, same thing. Inspected this, inspected his belly, no grass, no burrs, no sticks. I'm going to tighten that up, make sure all my things are nice and straight. If you notice when I did this cinch I only put on the first one, my cinch is still pretty loose and because a cinch is loose, some might say that was too loose, it is too loose and the reason why it is is because I still need to adjust the saddle pad. So I keep it loose on my first cinch and let him get used to it, now I'm going to shove this saddle pad in between a gullet here to where my hand comes up here to where I don't have any wrinkles because when he puts his head up, see how it gets closer right there? I don't want this pad all the way down here putting pressure on his neck. So now I'm going to wiggle the saddle around and give it what I call a natural lay. A saddle will fall on the horse the way it's supposed to fit in a natural position. If it's awkward and you shake it around a bit, it's going to settle in. After it settles in, I'm going to go ahead and give me one more notch up so I tighten my cinch one more knot. It still isn't as tight as I'm going to be riding but it's there. Then after I cinch him up, I'm going to go ahead and give him a stretch on that front leg. If you notice right here we're going to stretch all this skin right here and that's going to get out any kinks or bends. The last thing I want to hook on here is called a breast collar, this is called a pulling collar because it comes up here, some of your brush collars will come down here, I prefer this one because it tends to engage when a saddle moves versus always rubbing on the horse's shoulder, but it's personal preference. I'm going to adjust my breast collar on here, make sure it's the way I want it, reach underneath, hook this to the cinch, do one last tightening of my cinch to make it good and tight, shake down, that's how you saddle a western horse.