How to Saddle a Horse

how to saddle a horse

saddle horseKnowing how to properly saddle a horse is the very first thing that every horseback rider should learn before jumping in the saddle and riding off into the sunset. First, I am hoping you’re familiar with the horse you are about to saddle. It is a good idea to let the horse know who you are by giving a few friendly scratches on his or her head and neck.
Next, brush the horse with a medium bristle body brush to get any loose hair and dirt off of the back of the horse. Then you should clean the horse’s hooves with a hoof pick.

how to put a saddle on a horse
saddling a horse
clean the horse’s hooves

Typically all saddling should be done on the left side of the horse. Place the saddle pad on the back of the horse and pay attention to how the horse reacts to this. The horses reaction will tell you a little about the horses mood and or how broke/disciplined the horse actually is.

Saddle a Horse
How to Saddle up a Horse

A saddle pad provides a cushion between the saddle and the horses back. This prevents uneven saddle pressure and saddle sores, which are produced by excessive rubbing during the walking/loping motion of the horse. The saddle pad should be placed so that the opening in the pad roughly fits onto the how to fit a saddle to a horse withers of the horses shoulders. The withers are found at the end of the horse’s mane. Make sure the saddle pad is evenly placed on the horses back and place the saddle on top leaving about 1-2 inches from the front of the saddle to the front of the saddle pad.
saddle horseNow that you have the pad and the saddle in a position that looks comfortable, locate the cinch and the cinch strap. Place the strap in the cinch loop and through the saddle loop so that the cinch wraps under the belly of the horse.
Wrap the strap through the saddle loop and cinch loop one more time and place the cinch belt buckle in a hole on the cinch strap.

How to Saddle a Horse Western Style
How do you Saddle a Horse
How to Saddle a Horse English

The cinch should be tight enough to secure the saddle, but not too tight. You should be able to place 2-3 fingers between the cinch and the horse’s belly. Wrap the remaining end of the cinch strap within the saddle loop. Check the saddle and make sure it is fitting the horse properly. There should be about 4 fingers in width from the horse’s front leg to the side of the cinch.

How to Saddle a Horse
How to put a Saddle on a Horse

Also check the lengths of the saddle stirrups. You should be able to stand in the saddle and fit a single fist between you and the saddle in the standing position. how to saddle a horse After riding for a bit, check your cinch again to make sure it is tight. Horses tend to breath in while you tighten the cinch the first time. They are smarter than they look! Now the horse is saddled and you are ready to put the bridle on the horse.


  1. Sarah   •  

    A friend of mine rides in that Troxel Cheyenne. She’s a lielnofg western rider and had never worn a helmet until very recently, but she actually really likes the look of the Cheyenne, so it’s a win all around. Of course, at age four, your son is going to outgrow whatever you get for him in about five seconds, isn’t he? I know the rule book states that any rider in any division can wear a helmet without penalty. I think a lot of saddle seat and western riders think that judges will still penalize them (maybe subconsciously). I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I would think you could plop a schooling helmet on your leadliner in any seat and the judge wouldn’t hold it against you. They might even appreciate that you put safety first. I’d be curious to hear a judge’s feedback on this one.

    • Redy   •  

      Your objective is to keep the horse’s attention on you without making any loud moves. So before something else gets his attention, you want to make just a little bit bigger move to get his attentionback to you jiggle a whip, raise a hand, or walk in a little closer or a little farther back from that shoulder line. his head down and starts eating grass or whatever, you’re going to have to be loud with your actions to get his attention back. You’ll startle him, he’ll run from your attack, and it will take longer for him to trust you.

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