Buying a saddle is a big investment, so it’s important to make the right choice for you and your horse before handing over your money.

This handy guide will help you make all the right decisions.

1. Ask an expert

Book an appointment with a registered Society of Master Saddlers Qualified Saddle Fitter. Having your saddle correctly fitted is absolutely essential so that your horse is comfortable and you can maintain your position easily. This advice applies whether you’re buying new or second-hand.

2. Know your styles

  • Depending on your main discipline, there are a variety of saddle styles available, made according to the way you sit for each discipline.
  • General Purpose (GP) saddles will allow you to do most disciplines comfortably. It has a slightly rounded saddle flap and usually no knee blocks.
  • Dressage saddles have a straighter saddle flap so you can ride with longer stirrups. They will also often have bigger knee rolls and a thigh block.
  • Jump saddles have a more forward-cut saddle flap so you can ride with shorter stirrups. Most jumping saddles also have a flatter seat to allow you greater freedom of movement – particularly useful for going cross-country.
  • Show saddles have a long, straight saddle flap with no knee rolls and the seat tends to be flatter. They’re designed to give the judges an uninterrupted view of your horse’s conformation and allow freedom of movement.

3. All the mod cons

Modern saddles have features that enhance the fit of the saddle, designed to improve comfort and boost performance. Such features include changeable gullet systems, which allows the width of the girth to be adjusted quickly and easily, and air-filled panels which are designed to provide a soft, flexible and even bearing surface and can be fitted to all conventional saddles.

4. On a budget?

Consider going for a second-hand saddle, but make sure you see the saddle in person before you buy so you can check its condition. A good option can also be a synthetic saddle. They also tend to be lighter and easy care.

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