Which Is The Best Horse Saddle On The Market?

Most people choose to ride in a saddle. Some opt for bareback riding with pads, or even just bareback, but for the most part it is more comfortable to ride with some sort of saddle. But how do you find the best horse saddle? What type you go for depends on your riding style – do you go for an English saddle? A Western? What about a treeless saddle, or a side saddle? This list is pretty long!

So the first step is to identify what type of saddle you want, then go shopping for it. Or, you could have a read through the products below – we have picked out the best saddle from one of three types – English, Trail/Endurance, and Barrel.

What You'll Learn Today

Best Horse Saddle Reviews

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Saddles

Price

Wintec 2000 All Purpose Saddle CAIR Wintec 2000 All Purpose Saddle

One of the best English saddles on the market.

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Abetta Endurance AIRE-Grip Saddle Abetta Endurance AIRE-Grip Saddle

Lightweight, durable, great for trail/endurance riding.

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Circle Y High Saddle Circle Y High Horse Liberty Saddle

A typical “cowboy” saddle, perfect for barrel racing.

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1. Best English Saddle: Wintec 2000 All Purpose Saddle CAIR Review

Wintec 2000 All Purpose Saddle CAIR

This is a fantastic saddle for all round riding. It is suitable for just about any discipline, and is very comfortable for both horse and rider.

Pros

  • Easy Change Fit Solution means you can adjust the saddle – No more expensive visits from the saddle fitter – with the Wintec’s easy change gullets and new Riser system, you can mould the saddle to your horse’s changing shape, ensuring it stays comfortable.
  • Saddle ensures the correct riding position for jumping, flat work and trail riding – The deep seat and moulded knee rolls make sure that your seat and legs are in the optimum position.
  • CAIR panel cushion system – This encourages easier, freer movement from your horse, and therefore a better performance. If he is more comfortable he will perform better, and this is a very comfortable saddle!
  • Lightweight, water resistant and easy to care for – The fact that this saddle is synthetic material and not leather means that it is lighter than most saddles and also easier to clean – no need for oiling, just wipe with a damp cloth.

Cons

  • Not everyone likes synthetic saddles – For the purists, or those who just really like a good leather saddle, this one may not be the best option.

Recommendation

A great all round saddle, which can be adjusted to fit just about any horse and is suitable for just about any discipline. What more could you ask for in a saddle?

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2. Best Trail/Endurance Saddle: Abetta Endurance AIRE-Grip Saddle Review

Best Trail/Endurance Saddle review

This is a very fine example of a really good endurance saddle. It is comfortable for both you and your horse, as well as being hard wearing and ideal for long trail rides.

Pros

  • Breathable, shock absorbent Cool-Grip lining – This is perfect for those spooky moments on the trail when everything shoots sideways suddenly, or for a harder than expected landing from a jump.
  • Wider than most other synthetic saddles – This encourages a better fit, and spreads the weight out on the horse’s back so it will be a more comfortable ride for him.
  • Easier to keep clean than leather – The fact that this saddle is synthetic is a big plus, as it needs no oiling or lots of cleaning after a ride. Just wipe it down with a damp cloth and you’re done!
  • AIRE-grip shock absorbing closed cell lining – This material makes the saddle even more comfortable for the horse, something which is very important at all times but especially on long, gruelling trail rides.

Cons

  • May not be suitable for a high withered horse – The fact that this saddle is very wide may not be ideal for those with high withers as the tree may rest on them and be uncomfortable.

Recommendation

This lightweight, durable saddle is great for long hours of riding and will keep both you and your horse comfortable and happy.

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3. Best Barrel Saddle: Circle Y High Horse Liberty Saddle Review

best barrel saddle review

This is a saddle made by a well known and loved manufacturer, which is definitely a selling point. Buying a saddle from a trusted brand always make sense as they have the experience to produce some really good equipment.

Pros

  • Brown suede hip hugging seat – Suede is a super grippy leather that will hold you in place better than other, slippier types of leather. The seat is nice and deep, which, along with the suede, will help you stay in position around tight turns.
  • 5” high cantle allows a great grip – It is very useful to have something to grab onto on a barrel saddle, and this cantle is made for that.
  • Hand made in America – A hand stitched saddle is bound to be much better quality than a machined one, and the fact that this one is made in Yoakum, Texas means that it is made with the barrel rider in mind.
  • Hand tooled so it really looks the part – Although this is not the first consideration when buying a saddle, it helps if you have a really attrractive one! The Circle Y is floral tooled with silver plated conchos and The Proven silvere billet slot.

Cons

  • It may a bit on the pricey side – There is very little about this saddle that isn’t absolutely amazing. The one thing that may out you off is the price – but then think of it as an investment that will last you for years and it won’t seem so expensive!

Recommendation

This is a beautiful example of a typical “cowboy” saddle which is designed to be great at what is is made for as well as looking extremely attractive.

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Other Alternatives

– Best Hunter Saddle: Bates Hunter Jumper Saddle

– Best Saddle For Children And Teenagers: HDR Close Contact Saddle

– Best English Saddle For Comfort: Pessoa Gen-X2 Saddle

– Best Saddle For High Withered Horses: Circle Y High Horse Eldorado Saddle

– Best Budget Western Saddle: King Series Synthetic Trail Saddle

– Most Beautiful Saddle: Billy Cook Saddlery Feather III Saddle

– Best Jumping Saddle: Collegiate Degree Mono Event Saddle


Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the origin of the Western saddle?

Western saddles are an evolution of Spanish and Mexican saddles. This style of riding began in northern Mexico and the southeastern area of what is now the United States in the early 1600s. The Western saddle was developed to be used for long days in the saddle performing challenging work with cattle.

2. What are the features of a Western saddle?

There are many different types of Western saddles designed for a wide variety of activities such as barrel racing, roping, trail riding, pleasure riding, working cattle and more.

Generally speaking, a Western saddle has a comfortable, ample seat, a fairly high back, a saddle horn and lots of dee rings that can be used to attach gear needed on the trail.

Western saddle stirrups can be a bit of a challenge to adjust as some riders feel that the large flaps can get in the way, and the hardware can be a bit challenging.

Likewise, Western girths can be something of a Chinese puzzle and may be challenging for children, women and other riders who may not have a great deal of hand and arm strength to fasten securely.

English Vs Western Saddle

3. What is the origin of the English saddle?

English saddles were developed and are well suited to recreational and sport use. These saddles are lighter weight, smaller and allow very close contact with the horse. Using an English saddle facilitates good communication between horse and rider.

An English saddle is well-suited to specific activities such as jumping, polo, steeplechase and other set activities that occur over a relatively short period of time. For more lengthy activities such as trail riding, most people prefer a Western saddle.

4. What are the features of an English saddle?

Like the Western saddle, there are many different types of English saddles designed specifically for particular purposes, such as jumping, polo, dressage, hunting and hacking (every day pleasure riding).

Riding with an English saddle takes a bit more skill than riding with a Western saddle because the English saddle does not have a high protective back, a deep cushy seat or a saddle horn. You must rely on the strength of your seat and thighs, your balance and your ability to remain well aware of your surroundings at all times to stay firmly seated in the saddle.

English saddle stirrup straps are easy to adjust. If you are able to buckle and unbuckle your own belt, you will have no trouble adjusting your stirrups.

Likewise, the simple buckle girth of an English saddle is very easy to adjust and doesn’t require the manual dexterity or upper body strength that are often needed to girth up a Western saddle.

5. What is the origin of the Australian saddle?

Over two hundred years ago English colonizers brought their English saddles to Australia. Needless to say, the Australian outback is quite a bit more challenging than the English countryside. For this reason, it was necessary to develop a saddle that would provide safety, comfort and functionality to Australian stockmen.

Australian saddle makers of the day created the Australian stock saddle (a.k.a. Aussie saddle or stock saddle) which is something of a hybrid between English and Western saddles. This type of saddle is very popular for trail riding, endurance riding and ranch work.

6. What are the advantages of an Australian saddle?

In many ways an Aussie stock saddle is quite like an English dressage saddle. It is simple and lightweight with the buckle-up English style cinch and simple stirrup leathers.

The deep seated tree design keeps you balanced, and the streamlined design of the rigging, flaps and leathers allows you to maintain close contact with your horse for quick response to leg aids and greater control.

Simultaneously, and Aussie stock saddle provides a lot of the safety features you’ll find in a Western saddle. Most have a comfortable, deep seat. Most have a high cantle and pommel and knee rolls for security and comfort. Some even have a saddle horn.

7. What’s the best type of saddle to begin with?

In terms of safety for children or for riders who may be infirm, it’s a good idea to start with a Western saddle or an Aussie saddle because these saddles have horns to hold onto, high backs and a very secure seat.

In terms of developing a firm seat of your own and good communication with your horse, learning to ride English first is preferable. It’s much easier for a skilled English rider to transition to an English or Aussie saddle than vice versa.

8. What’s the best type of saddle to use every day?

All of the types of saddles described have their pros and cons and are good for the activities for which they are intended. Your choice is really down to your preference, and if you want to be a good all around rider with a good all around horse, having a collection that includes one of each (along with a high quality bareback pad) is a great idea!

If you can only afford one saddle, you are well-off to begin your riding career bareback in order to strengthen and perfect your seat and your skills. When you’re able to ride bareback confidently, you will be able to ride any saddle confidently. As you grow and learn as a rider, you should try out a wide variety of saddles and determine which style you like best.

9. How do you take care of a saddle?

The instructions for caring for saddles vary from one type of saddle to another. Traditional saddles are made of leather, but more and more often saddles are being made of very rugged, easy care synthetic materials. To be sure of caring for your saddle properly, you should follow manufacturer’s instructions; however, if you have purchased your saddle secondhand or for some other reason don’t have those instructions, you can follow general care tips for the type of saddle you have.

10. How do you correctly store a saddle?

There are many specially made saddle racks or stands that you can purchase ranging from wall-mounted versions to freestanding, attractive pieces of furniture. The main thing to remember about storing your saddle is that it should sit just as it would on a horse’s back.

Don’t store it on one end or hang it by the saddle horn (or any other part). Don’t carry it around in the trunk of your car or the back of your truck. Keep it in a clean, dry storage area with good air circulation and protected against the elements. Your saddle should not be exposed to any extremes of temperature.

It should also be kept safe from rodents. Rats and mice like to chew on leather and steal bits of fleece lining to line their nests. Even if you have a synthetic saddle, they may find something attractive about it and you’ll find yourself with a saddle full of holes.

11. How do you protect your saddle while it’s in storage?

When you put your saddle away, set it carefully on the rack, straighten any straps or saddle strings and lay your saddle pad over the top of the saddle to protect it from dust. Be sure to turn the saddle pad so that the side that stays against your horse’s back is exposed to the air and the clean side is against the top of your saddle.

If your storage area is especially dusty, you may want to toss a sheet over the saddle and saddle pad to cover everything and keep all of the dust off. Don’t cover your saddle with a piece of plastic or tarp as this will hold moisture in and cause problems with mold.

12. How do you measure a Western saddle?

Using a dress maker’s measuring tape or a retractable tape measure, measure from just behind the saddle horn, straight across the seat to the front edge of the cantle. The number of inches is the size of the seat.

Note that an Australian stock saddle is measured in the same way.

13. How do you measure an English saddle?

To measure an English saddle, locate the side screws that can be found on either side of the pommel. Measure from one side screw straight back to the center of the cantle.

14. What size saddle seat do I need?

Generally speaking, the length of your thigh corresponds with the seat size you will need, but this can vary a bit from one type of saddle to another. Usually, the seat size you will typically find comfortable in a Western saddle or an Australian stock saddle will be about an inch larger than the size you will want in an English saddle. This can vary depending upon the type of riding you do and the size of your personal seat!


Conclusion

There are a million and one saddles out there, for just about any type of riding you want to get into. The best horse saddle will not only help your horse perform his at best because he will be comfortable, but will help you enjoy your rides more as you will be comfortable too. Whether you want an English saddle, an Endurance saddle or a Barrel saddle, you are bound to find your forever saddle from the lists above.

Sam Ellis
Sam is a founder and editor of Horses & Foals. In personal life he is a proud father of a boy and twin girls. He believes it is more important than ever before to encourage children to experience the joy of horse riding. Horses make as much sense as the sunshine in our world.


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