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What Size Saddle do I Need for my Horse

07 Feb 2023 |

You will probably know from experience that an ill-fitting saddle is uncomfortable for both yourself and the horse. It’s not one saddle that fits all with the type of riding and your measurements being key indicators as to which size is best. In this guide, we’ll take you through how to measure yourself up for the right sized saddle as well as your horse, which type of saddle you need for each riding discipline and a snapshot of the essential items needed when you go horse-riding.

Which type of saddle do I need?

There are two main types of saddle: English and Western. An English saddle is a standard, all-purpose type whereas the Western style is a stock seat saddle. There are various subtypes of each saddle but for the most part, these are the two main options.

Why does the saddle need to fit correctly?

The main reason is because you and your horse need to be safe. If your saddle fits correctly, your horse will not only feel more comfortable but will also be able to feel your weight changes to help them understand your actions and commands. You don’t want it to pinch around your horse’s shoulders or back if it’s too small. Equally, if it’s too big, that extra movement will also cause pain for your horse.

Horse Saddle

A saddle should last a number of years but it’s important to check the fit and measurements a couple of times a year. If you’ve been exercising your horse regularly, it should maintain its shape. However, if it’s been a while since your horse was ridden properly or if it’s been resting for any reason, their size may have changed. Remeasure them to check if the saddle still fits our needs adjusting.

If you have an older horse, their bodies change continuously, meaning you’ll need to alter it regularly and check their sizing too. Having a saddle too big not only impacts the rider but the horse too. It will be prone to move around too much and cause friction on the horse’s back. Whilst you want to be comfortable and safe, so does your horse.

What size saddle do I need for my horse?

There are two parts to an English saddle: the seat and the gullet. The seat (the top part) is where the rider is positioned on the saddle. This is the key part for the rider as it’s the part they sit on. It needs to be fitted properly for comfort and safety.

Saddle Pad

To measure properly, measure from the back of your knees to your tailbone. It can be hard to do on your own standing up so either sit on a chair or get someone else to measure you up.

From there, follow the guidelines in this table to find the right size:

Your measurement

Saddle size


15” saddle

16.5” to 18.5”

16” saddle

18.5” to 20”

16.5” saddle

20” to 21.5”

17” saddle

21.5” to 23.5”

17.5” saddle


18” saddle


You should be able to fit two to four fingers at the back and front of your saddle as a bit of wiggle room. You can also add in a saddle pad for extra comfort and cushioning.

The other half of the saddle, the gullet, is for the horse’s back. Every horse is different in size, which is why it’s important to measure them up. It is easier to measure your horse when seated on it.

You’ll need a piece of wire that’s flexible but firm to manipulate. Place it over the horse’s withers around two inches lower than their shoulder blades. The arms should be a flush with your horse with a small semi-circle on the top. The height on this semi-circle is your measurement. It can be easier to trace the shape of the wire onto a piece of paper to measure! The table below shows the average measurements for the size of the saddle.


Gullet size








Extra Wide


Once you’ve measured yourself and your horse and had your saddle delivered, it’s time to test it on your horse. It’s advised to lay a thin sheet or towel on the horse first before placing the saddle on top. Provided the fit is good for your horse, now it’s time to sit on it yourself. You should have a couple of inches in front and behind you of extra room. Anymore and your saddle is too big.

What other equipment and clothing do I need?

We’ve rounded up a list of essentials that every rider needs, whether they’re a novice or experienced.

A riding hat

Safety first always! Most riding schools have their own set of hats to lend out to riders but if you’re a regular visitor, it might be time to invest in your own. Different styles of riding hat suit different head shapes so it can be a case of trial and error. For children, an adjustable style is ideal as they keep growing.

Heeled boots

Whilst we don’t mean a pair of stilettos, riding boots need to have a small heel and a smooth heel. The soles need to be flexible enough but sturdy too. Specially made jodhpur boots have been designed for exactly this reason. They’re lightweight with room around the ankles to move. Many experienced riders prefer longer boots but for beginners, they might feel restricted.

Horse Saddle Pad

Riding trousers

Again, you’ll want to wear something fitted but not rigid. Riding tights and jodhpurs are ideal because there’s plenty of stretch in them and the grippy panels help with extra padding in the right places! They’re similar to gym leggings so you know they’ll be comfortable. Avoid light colours as a beginner as you’ll probably get muddy to begin with. They’re comfy enough to wear out and about too so they’re definitely worth the investment.

Riding gloves

To avoid blisters and to gain extra grip, a pair of riding gloves are a must, especially for newbies. Invest in a pair specifically made for horse-riding so the grips are in the correct places on the gloves. You don’t have to pay a lot for a pair but if you’ll be riding regularly, they’re worth the money.

A short coat

Whilst you can wear a long coat, beginners might find they’re restricted and might get it trapped, leading to discomfort. A hip-length jacket or coat is ideal because you can still move in it and stay warm without sacrificing comfort. Whether it’s a specific riding jacket, a puffer jacket or a bomber jacket, just make sure it’s roomy enough to move around in as well as layer items underneath. On cold days, you might be wearing a thermal top, a fleece jacket and your coat!

You’ll find yourself wearing most horse-riding clothing at other times, so you don’t have to wear them specifically for the activity.

Even if you’re an experienced horse-rider, it’s important to review the basics every once in a while. Getting the saddle on your horse correct can be a make or break moment. It will allow you to be comfortable, but it also allows for the horse to be comfortable too.


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