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Best Saddles For Beginning Horseback Riding

Updated on November 28, 2011

Western saddles - horse saddles

I used to love horseback riding, and I’ve spend years in saddles – literally. I’ve owned and used all different types of saddles, including western saddles like roping, pleasure, barrel racing, cutting, and trail saddles. I’ve also ridden English, and when I did, I used an English saddle, of course. Sometimes I used a bareback saddle, and many times I rode bareback, using no saddle at all. I’ve also taught a lot of beginners to ride, and that’s not always an easy task. Horseback riding doesn’t come naturally to everyone – even for those who really want to become riders. Horses are large animals, and even some horse lovers are more than a little intimidated when they first start out with horseback riding. An important first element in learning how to ride a horse is gaining confidence and overcoming the fear of falling off.

Audrie feels safe in this saddle.
Audrie feels safe in this saddle.
Look for Western saddles that have a deep seat.
Look for Western saddles that have a deep seat.
This saddle was a perfect fit for Lexi!
This saddle was a perfect fit for Lexi!

The importance of horse saddles

This is where horse saddles come in. I know I’m going to catch a lot of flack about this, but I think the best saddles for beginners are Western saddles. Because they “hold you” better than English saddles do, they’ll make a timid, beginning rider feel much more secure, which will certainly be a confidence booster. Should they want to graduate to English saddles after getting their balance and more confidence – fine. But in my opinion, Western saddles are definitely the best choice for many novice riders.

Of course, all Western saddles aren’t just alike, although they do share some similarities. For example, they all have a cantle, the rise at the back of the saddle that helps hold the rider in the seat. Also, Western saddles have a pommel or swell. The pommel is the part of the saddle at the front that rises above the seat, also helping hold the rider. Most Western saddles also have a horn, the “handle” that you can grip while horseback riding.

Western Saddles for Beginners

When you’re shopping for saddles for beginners, look for one with a deep seat. This will help provide a sense of security. If the seat is covered with rough suede, it will be even more secure. Smooth leather seats can be slippery. If the saddle seat is padded, the rider will be more comfortable. You’ll also probably want a saddle with a high cantle and one with a wide swell. Both of these will make the rider feel as if he’s held securely in place while riding.

The size of the seat is also important. It should fit the rider. An average-sized adult would need a 15-inch saddle, while larger adults might need 16 or 17-inch seats. Most youths need saddles with 13 or 14-inch seats, and children need smaller seated saddles.

The stirrups can play an important role, too. You use your feet and legs a lot while horseback riding, and this is where the stirrups are important. A stirrup with a wide, flat bottom will make balancing and shifting your weight easier for a novice. Also, leather-covered stirrups aren’t as slippery as bare wooden stirrups, so you might want to keep this in mind when shopping for saddles.

Your best bets for beginner saddles will probably be barrel racing saddles and cutting horse saddles. These saddles are specifically designed to hold the rider snugly. Some Western pleasure saddles are also great for beginners, especially those saddles with a deep seat.

You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg on a saddle, but it is important that you get a good one. I’ve always been partial to leather saddles, but synthetic saddles are becoming very popular. You don’t need a fancy saddle for beginning horseback riding. Just make sure the saddle is sturdy and durable, and that it will provide a feeling of security for the rider. You can often find new and used saddles for sale on Ebay, and Amazon also usually has some great deals on saddles. If you’re shopping for saddles, check out the ones below. To see more saddles, click on any of the pictures. Happy horseback riding!

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    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Darlene! Nice to meet you!

    • profile image

      Darlene2016 

      5 years ago

      Great hub I ride western all the time so I couldn't agree more

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      HH, it's never too late to begin horseback riding!

      yenajeon, I totally agree!

    • yenajeon profile image

      Yena Williams 

      6 years ago from California

      Saddle choice is a big part of feeling safe on a horse for the first few times. Great!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      6 years ago from London, UK

      Gosh how I wish I could do that. Great hub.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Harsheen, I so hope you get the chance to do some horseback riding. I bet you'll love it!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      My pleasure, Random!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      drbj, did I know you were a horsey person?

    • profile image

      Harsheen K. 

      6 years ago

      Amazing hub Habee. Loved your Babies' pics.They look adorable on ponies.I myself like horse riding a lot but have never got the chance to do so.Wish I cud do one day and then I will surely keep in mind your Little Tips:)

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Great resource. Thank you!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      6 years ago from south Florida

      What lovely memories you awakened with his hub, Holle. I learned to ride on an English saddle and that became the type of saddle I preferred. I can just see Twin Elms Peavine (the name of my horse so many years ago) snorting with pleasure as I approached. At least, I think it was pleasure.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Mepperly, thanks for reading!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Donna. Horseback riding can be very good for therapy puposes!

    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 

      6 years ago from USA

      This is really good information, habee, and I loved the images! Those little faces are just glowing with pleasure:)

      We don't ride (yet) but I'm looking into it as therapy for our little guy who is autistic. I'll bookmark these for future reference, and I'm sharing it with some other parents who are also investigating therapeutic riding. Voted up as well, good job.

    • mepperly profile image

      Shelly Epperly 

      6 years ago from Vancouver,WA

      great Hub...

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Good morning, Mary!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Good advice, habee. We always rode with Western saddles, I agree, they are the best for beginners, too.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Horseback riding is a wonderful pastime. I'm glad your son enjoys it!

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 

      6 years ago from New York

      Nice hub, HABEE,

      My son who is nine loves those horseriding afternoons, back in Pittsburgh. The experience is amazing. Besides kicking some of their call of nature. Nice pictures from audrei and Lexis. Nature at full swing1

      LORD

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