Saddle Your Horse Correctly

Position your western saddle correctly for a great ride and a comfortable horse.

Position your western saddle correctly for a great ride and a comfortable horse.

Use these tips from AQHA Educational Alliance Partner Certified Horsemanship Association to properly position your western saddle.

Compiled by Hailey Harroun

  • Place the pad or blanket high on the withers, then slide it backward onto the withers and back.  If a blanket is used, always place the folded edge toward the horse’s withers.  The front folded edge should align with the middle of the horse’s shoulder.
  • Pick up the saddle and bring the right stirrup and cinch over the seat. Holding the gullet in your left hand and the cantle in your right hand, gently place the saddle on the horse’s back.

  • The front edge of the pad should be in line with the center of the shoulder.  The saddle should be centered and placed about 3 inches behind the front edge of the pad.  Place your hand under the blanket, pulling the blanket into the gullet of the saddle so it does not wear on the withers and back.
  • Go to the right (off side) of the horse and gently lift the stirrup and cinch down.  Check the saddle and pad to be sure the pad is smooth and the cinch is not twisted.
  • Then from the left (near side), hook the stirrup over the horn and pull the cinch under the horse. The cinch is either buckled into the latigo strap or tied in a latigo knot.
  • Before mounting, make a final check of your cinch and tack.

From the Certified Horsemanship Association Composite Horsemanship Manual. CHA certifies instructors and trail guides, accredits equestrian facilities, publishes educational manuals and hosts interactive conferences. Visit CHA at

Take the next step in showing your horse. Check out AQHA’s Reining Basics DVD, perfect for beginners and accomplished riders alike. This DVD explains four types of cues to the horse by his rider: bridle and rein cues, leg cues, body cues and voice or sound cues.

17 thoughts on “Saddle Your Horse Correctly”

  1. It is also necessary to be sure that the saddle rides behind the horse’s shoulder. Feel the shoulder and be sure the saddle is at least an inch behind it. This allows more freedom of movement and keeps the older horse from stumbling.

  2. Always be sure to pull the center of the pad or folded blanket up off the withers so that the saddle weight doesn’t force the blanket to stretch across the withers, causing discomfort to the horse.

  3. these r all good tips. but u need to also check your saddle AND blanket for debris so this will also secure a safe and enjoyable ride.

  4. All quite interesting, but you missed those of us who ride our quarter horses with an english saddle! We who do follow some of the same instructions, but know to move the saddle so it rests level on the horse’s back. This will differ with each saddle and is based on the horse’s conformation, not the position of the blanket, pad, etc

  5. Well, while we’re @ it, it is also a good practice to get a good stretch after the cinch is tightened. Stretching first the one then the other front legs not only feels good to our friend but eliminates any folds under the cinch thereby reducing the risk of soreness.

  6. Let’s not forget that if the saddle doesn’t fit your horse, you CAN’T do it correctly. Too many people have horses that “misbehave” because they’re in pain – how else can a horse tell you, “hey buddy, this is pinching me” ?

  7. Great tips! I also like to walk my horse around a little so he can let a little air out .You’ll usually find that “SECOND” time you tighten the cinch is quite a bit and it prevents you’re saddle from sliding as you try and mount.”Happy Trails”.Evan.

  8. yes this is all great advice. but i have seveal saddles and none fit BOTH my horse and me. im short and my horses are what some people call muttin big mare i ride better bare back but that not to safe at 16 tall and me a newby ,does anyone out there have any good fixes for this. ive put off showing in western pleasure an hunt seat comp because we realy to find a great fit for both of us. maybe will stick with all the ground stuff,we want to start riding them more.

  9. The most obvious point to make here is the that the latter can only take place if there is some adjacent territory to which the group being driven out can easily gain access. ,

  10. ..è molto importante tenere pulito e soffice il sottosella………..e tirare bene il sottopancia…….

  11. I just saw a billy royal work rough out saddle on ebay. 15.5 wants 900 for it. No one has bid you might be able to neg. with them??Yes, you will want a semi bar unsels you have a big rounded filled out morgan. Even I have a 16.1 big full morgan mare and the semi bars are a great fit!Good luck in you hunt!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *