Grab the Reins: 10 Different Types of Saddles Every Rider Should Know About

Horseback riding is perhaps one of the most captivating pastimes. It’s basically a type of art where you ride a horse and control its movement and speed. The connection the riders have with their horses is incredible. But to become a good horse rider you need to feel confident and comfortable, and the right saddle will help you with this. So, saddle up and find out more about their function and purpose.

Types of Horse Saddles


English horse saddle

These saddles are primarily used with the English riding style, which is popular not just in England but also in other countries that speak English. They’re mainly used in the Olympic equestrian discipline and have a flatter seat. Another thing that makes these saddles unique is that they don’t have horns. They also have a self-padding design.

This means you can attach pads and fill them with wood, foam or air. Depending on what you’re using the saddle for, you can change the height of the cantle, the angle and depth of the flaps and the depth of the seat. These practical and comfortable horse saddles are made of wood, several high-quality laminated layers of wood and spring steel to be exact. Some of the other materials you’ll find are fibreglass and polyurethane.


Dressage horse saddle

These saddles are made for more experienced riders. Riders that participate in flat-work competitions. They give the rider an upright torso dressage position which defers from the straight-leg one. When you look at it from the side, you’ll notice that it has a deeper U-shaped curve for a much better balance while riding. Their flaps are made of thin, lightweight materials and are straight. This is convenient for the rider because they have better control over the horse.


If you want a saddle with elaborately detailed leather, just like the cowboys in the past had, then get yourself a western saddle. There’s a horn on the front that helps the rider with their balance and holding the reigns. They were initially made to help ranch workers and were made sturdy and durable. This continued as a tradition to this day.
People who spend many hours on their horses find this saddle very comfortable, especially when they need to take sharp turns. As different Western-style riding purposes developed, so did the Western-style saddles. Nowadays, we have around 10 different ones.


Hunting horse saddle

Hunting saddles are great for riders who love to go hunting in the countryside. The saddle is made to push the rider’s weight to the seat and keep the legs moving forward into the stirrups. This is very convenient when the horse needs to jump large hedges. With a seat like this, you can be sure you’ll stay in a safe position as the horse moves and jumps. The things that make these saddles comfortable are the low cantle and pommels.


The design of jumping saddles forces the rider to move forward a little bit. By doing this, the rider can get into the 2-point jumping position while the horse gets through all the fences. They have a C-shaped curve, which makes them flatter than dressage saddles. Jumping saddles have bigger flaps which in general means more leg support for the rider. Plus, they also have padding at the front to give the rider more protection and stability in the lower leg.

Australian Stock

Australian stock saddle

The Australian stock saddle was originally modelled on the English one. It has developed for 150 years for us to finally have an incredible saddle option. Nowadays, they’re popular all over the world and widely used by people who spend many hours on horseback. This includes cattle ranchers, trail riders, polocrosse platers and endurance competitors.
These horse saddles have a deeper seat, a higher pommel and more seat pads. In some cases, the pommel comes with a horn. You also have the option to install webbing and padding under the saddle to get more support. It also comes with an overgirth, which is a strap that crosses the saddle for security. This will make the seat more balanced and secure despite the long hours spent riding.

General Purpose

General-purpose saddles are perfect for beginners or intermediate riders who are just getting into the horseback riding world. Essentially, they’re for people who got their first horse and want to experiment with different types of riding. Their flaps are cut forward for a reason. They allow the rider to get in a good position for dressage, jumping hunts and hacks with small jumps.
General-purpose saddles provide a nice balance for the rider but have no pads at the front. You can often find these saddles for sale. They’re also most commonly used in riding schools because they can fit people of different sizes and abilities.


Youth horse saddle

If you have small children who love to ride ponies, this is the right saddle for the purpose. They’re made of a combination of materials such as synthetic materials, cotton, leather or plastic. They’re relatively smaller than adult saddles and more comfortable, balanced and secure for children. To help them stay balanced, these saddles have a handle at the front.


During the Middle Ages, when women first started riding horses, it was seen as inappropriate for them to straddle the horse. It’s mainly because they were always wearing dresses. So, people came up with side saddles. Now, women could sit on the saddle but with their legs crossed, like a true lady. Plus, sitting this way kept their clothes clean.
To keep the rider’s leg in place, these saddles have 2 horns or pommels. The left thigh goes under the lower pommel and the right leg fits on top of the top pommel. In case you were wondering if is it safe for them to jump obstacles like this, the answer is yes. It’s completely safe.


Ranch horse saddle

Ranch saddles are specially designed for working with cattle or for long rides. They’re very strong and heavyweight. Their seat is deep, and they have a high cantle. These features give the rider the comfort they need to do some work around the ranch. There is a horn wrap for the big, heavy horns, and the fenders hang straight beneath the rider.