Well, this article will first help you name 15 parts of an English saddle, and what we should do to get the right English saddle size for long-term use.
15 Parts of English saddle
1. The tree
A tree is the foundation of a saddle. Other parts of an English saddle are built on the tree. Saddle trees can be made of wood or synthetic material.
The tree’s size and shape must fit the horse’s back and the rider’s seat. This is to distribute the rider’s weight on the horse’s back, increase comfort and prolong the serviceability of the horse.
2. The pommel (fork, swell)
This is the part that locates at the front of the saddle where the bars and the gullet of the tree come together. It somehow protects the rider when riding, especially when the rider is thrown forward.
Also, it is helpful for moving the saddle as we can grab it to lift the saddle.
The cantle is the back of the seat. It slightly curves upwards to help support the rider’s seat.
This is the part where the rider sits while riding. It lies between the pommel and the cantle.
It provides a balance for the rider. It can be sorted as shallow, medium, medium-deep, and deep. The different levels will be suitable for different purposes, such as deep seat is better for barrel racing, or shallow seat is good for reining.
It is a small flap of leather that is directly attached to the seat over the stirrup bar. The jockey smooths the transition between the flap and the seat.
The flap is located under the stirrup leathers and the jockey. It covers the billet and the girth.
The flap can have different lengths and angles to suit the rider.
This is a channel existing between the 2 bars of the tree. It lies directly over the horse’s spine to protect the horse’s withers.
The twist is located between the pommel and the seat of a saddle. It is the narrowest part of an English saddle.
It determines how the saddle sits between the rider’s legs.
Panels are located under the seat on the bottom of the saddle. Panels provide cushioning for the horse.
10. Knee Roll (knee block)
Some English saddles do not have knee rolls. This is an optional feature that can be added to the front of the flap.
Knee rolls can help the rider’s leg keep contacting the flap to prevent the rider’s knee from slipping too far.
11. Thigh roll (thigh block)
Similar to knee roll, thigh roll is also an additional option. And, it supports the rider’s thighs into position.
You will see 3 billets on each side of an English saddle. They help attach the girth to the saddle.
Normally, we use 2 of the 3 billets and leave 1 with nothing to hang on.
The girth is attached to the saddle by the billets. It helps hold the saddle snugly on the horse’s back after being tightened when saddling.
14. Stirrup Bar
This is a small triangular piece of metal that locates directly under the jockey. The stirrup bar is used to attach the stirrup leather to the saddle.
15. Stirrup Leather
This is a strap made of leather or synthetic material. Its function is to connect the saddle to the stirrup.
Choosing the right English saddle seat
Getting the right saddle size is important, not only for your safety but also for your horses. Only when you and your horse feel comfortable, you both can get top performance.
Additionally, if the saddle does not fit your horse, he may suffer muscle atrophy, soreness, and potential skeletal damage when he is worn that saddle long-term.
That is why you need to know how to measure an English saddle seat and choose the right one for you.
First, measure your seat size.
- Sit on a chair. Your knees are at a 45-degree angle with your feet flat on the floor. Your bottom touches the back of the chair.
- Measure from the back of your knee to the back of your bottom.
Second, choose the saddle size according to your measurement.
|Your measurement||Saddle size|
|16.5” to 18.5”||16”|
|18.5” to 20”||16.5”|
|20” to 21.5”||17”|
|21.5” to 23”||17.5|
Third, once you got the saddle, check it again before using it long-term.
- Put your fingers (in vertical position) between the horse’s withers and the saddle pommel. Three to four fingers should fit in. A suitable saddle should have enough space for the rider to push down it. If not, the saddle will rub your horse’s withers and the rest of his spine.
- Four fingers should fit in the space between your seat and the end of the cantle. If it accommodates less than 4 fingers, you might need to take a larger seat size.
- No part of your leg should pass the saddle flap and knee roll.
- Take a ride and this test ride should make you and your horse sweat. When removing the saddle and saddle pad, there should be no dry spots. If you see dry spots, it means your horse was pinched by a saddle. Then, this saddle is not the one you want.
- When riding with the saddle, watch your horse’s movement. Is their movement hindered? Does he feel better? Does he spin his ear or not want to move forward easily? Well, if the horse feels comfortable with the saddle, he will display all his natural movement without pain.
Last but not least, if your horse poorly suffers pain from using the wrong saddle in the long term, you should consult a veterinarian. In this case, your horse’s spine, shoulder blade, and muscle fiber can be damaged.
For all the information above, I hope you now can name parts of an English saddle easily. Choosing the right saddle size is also important like choosing a fit pair of shoes for us. If you want to go long and far with your horse, nothing is more important than a perfect fit saddle.
And, remember to evaluate the fit of the saddle periodically. As your horse’s muscle tone will change or develop as time runs, adjustments on the saddle should be made.