Horse riding is a popular recreational activity among children and adults. But it can become a nightmare if you don’t use the right saddle.
With many saddle types in the market today, choosing one can be tedious. You need time to analyze the various types and pick one that meets your needs.
We will discuss two basic saddle types common in riding: the English and Australian saddles. Explore the structure, features, and differences between these saddles in this post.
Table of Contents
Design and Structure of a Saddle
The main saddle parts are:
- The tree. It offers the foundation for other parts and enhances rider stability. The steel-reinforced front curve and rear button ensure you sit at the saddle center.
- Gullet. This space between the bars prevents the tree from exerting pressure on the horse’s spine.
- Panels. The leather cushions between the horse’s back and saddle. It helps you to adjust the saddle to position before riding.
- Seat. Allows you to control your posture and maintain stability.
- Saddle flap. The leather piece on the saddle exterior. It lies between the rider’s leg and billets.
- Cantle. The back of the saddle seat that provides rest and support.
- Stirrup. Small light frames that hang from both sides of the saddle for the rider’s feet rest.
- Billets. Straps underneath the flap where the girth is tied.
The English Saddle
The English saddle stands on a solid frame (tree) made of wood. The ‘tree’ has laminated layers of quality wood with steel reinforcement under the front curve and the rear bottom.
Using laminated wood and steel on the frame improves the saddle’s durability.
It also helps you to remain at the center for stability throughout the ride.
The following features make the English saddle popular among riders.
- Made from light materials, hence exerting minimal weight on your horse.
- Has its own padding; therefore, you don’t need additional material when saddling.
- An adjustable seat lets you move it in front or backward, depending on the riding discipline.
- Used throughout the world.
The English saddle offers you support when riding. Besides, it is light and therefore useful in many disciplines, which have their own variations of this saddle:
- Showjumping/horse showing. Saddles geared for this event are smaller and fit closely to reveal the horse’s conformation. In addition, it has no knee rolls and therefore covers a smaller body region.
- Dressage. These saddles have a longer flap to support the rider’s leg, which is less inclined forward.
- Eventing. A deep seat with a long forward flap for support while jumping characterize these saddles. It also allows riders to use one saddle on the flat and across the fence.
- Saddle seat events. The English saddle is commonly used for saddle seat riding because it places the rider’s center of gravity at the back of the seat. This distributes weight evenly, bringing stability.
You should hold the reins with both hands when riding on an English saddle. This helps you control the horse’s speed and direction through the mouth.
Pros and Cons
|Gives the horse room to move on the shoulder||Not ideal for long distances|
|Has a large comfortable seat||Has no knee rolls|
|Has its own padding and therefore no additional material is required when saddling|
The Australian Saddle
The saddle has a deep seat to offer you comfort and security.
Although this saddle’s design, structure, and parts are similar to those of the English saddle, there are differences in some features and functionality.
The Australian saddle is ideal for long-distance rides. If you are riding through rough terrain, the saddle has features to offer you comfort and security. They include:
- Deep seat. The deep seat ensures your body’s center of gravity is static to prevent you from falling.
- High pommel. Provides security and comfort when riding on rough terrain.
- Forward seat. Ensures your legs rest in a forward position. This fosters even distribution of body weight through the body instead of concentrating on your legs.
- Big knee rolls for leg stability while riding. They prevent your legs from swinging back and forth.
The Australian saddle is ideal for the following:
- Pleasure riding. The saddle places the legs in front of the body, making the rider comfortable. This fosters long-distance riding, especially on uneven ground.
- Cattle work. Endurance riding enables you to perform cattle work since you can ride long distances through fields working cattle without losing your balance.
- Starting young horses and new riders. The saddle has a deep seat, which ensures you are secure. This saddle is, therefore, ideal for training young horses and new riders who fear falling off.
Pros and Cons
|Contains knee pads to make riding easier||Difficult to stand on the saddle, especially for beginners|
|Has deeper and more comfortable seats|
|Forward seat enhances stability and comfort|
English Saddle vs. Australian Saddle
The design and structure of an English Saddle are similar to an Australian Saddle. They are made from similar materials and fasten the same way.
However, there are differences between the two saddle types, as outlined below.
|Feature||English Saddle||Australian Saddle|
|Seat||Shallow and allows you to move||Deep and securely placed|
Allows for minimal movement
|Uses||Performance riding||Best for long-distance rides, especially in rough terrain|
|Horse control||Hold the rein using both hands to control the horse through the mouth||Leg pressure and body weight shift control of the horse’s movement and direction|
|Disciplines||Show jumping, eventing, and dressage||Pleasure riding, cattle work, and starting young horses|
How to Choose the Right Saddle?
Choosing the right saddle for your horse depends on many factors. Your horse’s disciplines and riding duration are among the factors to consider in addition to:
- Style of riding
- Saddle materials
- Cost and fit
- Horse’s age
English vs. Australian Saddle: Choose Your Ideal One
The above information will make choosing the right saddle for your horse simple. You only need to consider the features of each type and pick one that meets your riding needs.
The Australian saddle is best suited for long-distance riding. And if performance riding is your discipline, go for the English saddle.
Note that there is no one-saddle-fits-all option. Therefore, choose one that suits your needs.