English Horse Saddles
A sleek and elegant creation, the English saddle is very unlike its western counterpart. Made for comfort and control, it comes in a variety of styles though the basic structure of the saddle remains constant. There’s the right brand of English saddle for you and your horse and the activities you enjoy together.
What are the different types of English saddles?
- All purpose can be used for pleasure riding, ambling over a woodland trail, jumping, and dressage.
- Dressage saddles are meant to show off the horse’s conformation and make the horse and rider look especially elegant. Most saddle experts believe that the dressage saddle should only be used for dressage. The flaps are a bit longer than the all purpose saddle, and the seat is closer to the horse’s shoulders to make sure the rider is positioned right over their center of gravity.
- Eventing saddles push the rider's weight to the back of the saddle and make sure that their feet are forward when the horse jumps over a hurdle or takes on an obstacle course. It provides more control and safety.
- A jumping/close contact saddle has the seat closer to the cantle than a dressage saddle. This keeps the rider balanced during a jump.
- The polo saddle is made specifically for the sharp turns and strenuous play of a polo match. It has less padding than other saddles.
- Numnahs are pads that are placed beneath the saddle to give even more comfort to the horse.
What materials are English saddles made of?
English saddles are traditionally made of the best leather that tanner can find. It is supple but firm, thick, and just a little greasy. It wrinkles when it is pressed on both the outside and the inside, but it never forms bubbles. Leather should be neither too dry nor spongy. The best leather usually comes from cows that are slow to mature, such as the Angus. Less popular types of leather are pigskin, doeskin, and basil, which is sheepskin. Newer saddles are made of synthetic leather, but they don’t last as long.
What are the parts of an English saddle?
The saddle is built on a small part called a tree. There are three types:
When it’s finished, the saddle will have:
- A seat
- A cantle, which is the back raised part of the seat
- A pommel, which is the upward curving front of the seat
- A point pocket
- A saddle flap that hides the girth straps and the buckle guard
- The girth
- The waist, which is the middle of the seat
- The stirrup bar
- Stirrup leather
- Irons, or stirrups
If the English saddle is flipped upside down with the cantle pointing up, you’ll see a channel run own the middle of the padded panel to the gullet.