If you have ever ridden a horse with a saddle that is too small you know how uncomfortable it is. You feel like you are going to fall off the horse the entire ride which I think we can agree is not enjoyable. In addition, if the saddle is too big you slide around as if you are riding bare back which can be adventurous but not that relaxing. This is why it is important to find what size saddle fits you best.
The first step is finding the right saddle seat size. Every saddle comes with a standard seat size ranging from as small as 12” to as large as 17”. An easy way of deciding you saddle seat size is based on your size. Below is a basic guide to follow:
- Youth: 12"-13"
- Small Adult: 14"
- Average Adult: 15"
- Large Adult: 16"
- Extra Large Adult: 17"
This basic guide can give you a good idea of what size saddle you need; however the size of you backside is the real determining factor. You could be a relatively small person and have a larger backside and need a larger saddle size. The same rule applies for the inverse, if a large person has a smaller backside they might fit best in a smaller saddle. The best thing to do is go and sit on a few different saddles and find which one feels the best and would get you the best support. A good rule of thumb is that there should be about 3-5 inches between you and the fork (below the horn) and you should be pressed up against the cantle (the back of the saddle). You should not be overwhelming the cantle, just up against it to give support. Some might prefer a tighter fit and some like a looser one, but it is usually better to ride in a saddle that is a little too loose than a little too tight.
Saddles are a lot like shoes. You may wear a size 9 in a certain brand of shoe and a size 10 in another. It is similar with saddles. Just because you know your saddle seat size it doesn’t mean that you know how every saddle is going to fit. Just like shoes, saddles have unique designs and styles that require you to “try them on” and make sure it is the right saddle for you. So, visit your local western tack shop and sit on a variety of saddles. However, if you know your saddle seat size you are at a good place to start.