Last updated: November 20, 2022
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Western saddles have been integral to the American West since their inception. The first western saddle was created for working cowboys, but it evolved into something much more versatile – providing exceptional comfort and support that’s suitable for many equine activities.
Western saddles come in many different styles, including roping, trail riding, and reining. The best ones are Billy Cook and Reinsman Saddles, which cost 2k+ dollars, but I’ve found that Acerug’s is an excellent choice; they’re comfortable while also being affordable.
If you have been looking for a new western saddle but are hesitant because of the price or style, don’t worry. This guide can help you make an informed choice. There are many high-quality options out there that will fit your needs perfectly.
Pro Tip: If you’re otherwise happy with your current saddle but wish it had a more comfortable seat try adding a gel seat pad.
In this guide, I cover:
- 5 Best western horse saddles available
- What makes a good Western saddle?
- Is it ok to buy a used western saddle?
- And more…
Let us dive straight into it…
Acerugs Western Pleasure Horse Saddle
Acerugs Saddlery is a big name in the equestrian industry. They are well-known for their western saddles for kids and adults and offer a great deal of choice in western saddles for pleasure, trail, and barrel racing.
This Acerugs saddle is made using premium synthetic Cordura material, which is long-lasting, has superior stain resistance, and is waterproof. I never owned a synthetic saddle, but I’ve ridden in my neighbors.
After winning his first synthetic saddle in a raffle and using it for six months, he was sold. It proved to be comfortable and held up surprisingly well, so he went with synthetic the next time he needed a saddle.
Each Acerugs saddle is lined with soft fleece and thick padding on the underside, keeping you and your horse comfortable and secure.
Check out some of the top features of Acerugs:
- Available in several attractive colors, including pink, black, brown, blue, green, and purple, and several size choices.
- Measurements: 7-inch gullet, 3-inch horn, 12-inch swell
- Approximate weight – 18 lb.
- Padded stirrups for easy mounting and support to the rider
- Silver-plated Texas star conchos engraving for a pop of bling!
- Fiberglass tree for extreme durability
- Many options to select from
- Easy to adjust stirrups
- Easy to clean
- A few size issues.
Orlov Hill PRO Western Ranch Horse Saddle
I prefer western leather saddles because it’s what I grew up with and am comfortable using. They are always a great choice because they are ultra-comfortable, long-lasting, and get better with age. But you need to take care of leather saddles; this means proper storage, cleaning, and conditioning.
Orlov Hill Leather company makes this beautiful saddle from high-quality oiled leather that keeps it firm yet comfortable for both the rider and the horse. A plus for me is you can always find a leather shop to replace and repair damaged saddles close by.
- Premium leather hand-crafted saddles
- 5-inch-deep comfortable seat, 7-inch gullet, 3 x 9 horn.
- You get a matching headstall and collar free with this saddle
- Needs regular maintenance like all leather tack.
AAMISH Endurance Trail and Pleasure Riding Saddle
AAMISH store’s saddle is made with high-quality leather that is soft, supple and has a great feel. This handcrafted saddle balances style, quality, and function and has myriad applications in endurance, trail, or pleasure riding.
- Eco, soft leather
- Sturdy fiberglass tree
- Padded fleece underside
- Available in 13 sizes
- High-quality materials
- Extremely durable
- Ships from India – returns could be tedious.
HILASON Western Horse Treeless Trail Barrel Saddle American Leather
The Hilason brand is well-known for its comfortable and attractive saddles. They are made with genuine cowhide leather and feature a beautiful hand-tooled design. You also get matching cinch straps which make it even more stylish.
- Made with premium leather
- Several size-options
- Gullet- 6 to 8 inches. The skirt’s length is about 23 inches.
- Weight is 21 lb.
- Higher price.
Blue Lake Western Saddle: Best Budget saddle
Blue Lake western saddle is made with genuine skirting leather, and its price is a lot less than the other entries here. This saddle has many great features, like a hand-tooled basketweave design and a stay-on strap that keeps it in place.
- Premium skirting leather
- Available in 7 sizes.
- Soft fleece underside for comfort
- The tree is made with durable fiberglass
- Hand-tooled engraving for a stylish appearance.
- Attractive and functional
- Some size issues
What Makes a Good Western Saddle?
Here are the features to consider when selecting the best western horse saddles:
1) Ensure proper fit
Western saddles are measured from the back of the saddle to the horn or the gullet (the opening in front of the horn.) Accordingly, you get sizes from 10” to 18” with increments of 0.5 inches. An average adult needs a saddle of about 15-inches.
Always sit in the saddle to check its comfort before you buy it. There should be about 4-inches between your body and the swell of the saddle.
Your horse’s shoulders should also slide back and forth easily under the saddle. Select a saddle with a higher front arch that leaves your horse’s withers free. It’s essential that the saddle you buy fits you and your horse correctly.
2) Use good cinches
Some saddles come with back and front cinches. If such a case, use both cinches but do not over-tighten them. Go for cinches made from neoprene or mohair, but avoid fleece cinches as they attract debris.
Invest in saddles having wide stirrups to prevent sore ankles. Look for padded ones with shock absorption that enhance ankle-and-foot comfort. I suggest you use a stirrup turner on new or stiff saddles. These devices hold your stirrups in their correct position and reduce pressure from your ankles and knees; if you haven’t used one before, give it a try.
4) Don’t forget to check the saddle’s tree
A good western saddle has a sturdy tree. If you’re buying a used saddle, avoid ones with cracked trees as they could hurt your horse. Fiberglass is the best material for trees.
5) Consider your riding discipline
Always select your saddle based on your riding discipline. For trail and pleasure riding, select saddles that are light in weight and comfortable for your horse. Some disciplines require the saddle to have a round skirt, so it allows more freedom of movement.
Is it OK to Buy a Used Saddle?
Many people buy used saddles – which can be a good choice as it can help you save quite a bit of money. However, checking the saddle for damage before you buy is essential.
Here are some points to keep in mind while buying used saddles:
1) Avoid saddles without a brand name on them
Low-quality saddles without any brand name are more likely to be damaged. These are inexpensive even if you go to buy them first-hand. Such saddles definitely do not get better as they age.
They might have a cracked tree, or worse, they could have improper sizes which do not fit any horse. This can cause injury to both you and your horse.
2) Do your homework
Whether you are in the market for a new saddle or a used one, do your homework. Try out different saddles at the tack store, or borrow some from your friends. Sit in each saddle and feel it.
Ask yourself which one feels most comfortable. This will help you zero in on some brands so you can search for used ones in that brand. You can also visit horse forums to find fellow horse lovers looking to sell their old horse saddles.
These days, you also have Facebook and other social media groups that advertise their used horse tack. If you’re buying on eBay, then check the seller’s reviews first.
3) Make sure the saddle’s size is right for you
If you buy the saddle online, always ask for photos and the exact size of the gullet, tree, skirt, and saddle weight. If possible, see the saddle in person before buying it.
I would’ve never dreamed of buying a saddle online a few years ago, but the convenience and ability to return them make it attractive.
4) Ask many questions
Find out how old the saddle is. Ask about its cinch condition. Find out about the saddle’s stitching. If the seller hesitates to answer these questions, consider it a red flag.
However, even though a saddle is old doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not in good shape. With proper care, oiling, and conditioning a saddle can last a long time.
What is the Average Cost of a Western Saddle?
Did you know that the most expensive saddle belonged to the Crown Prince of Dubai, Prince Hamad, and cost a whopping $653,000?
The average cost of a high-quality leather western saddle is about $300. On retail sites like Amazon, you can find saddles from $200 to $1000. If you choose to buy directly from saddlery stores, expect to pay the following prices for the best saddle brands:
· Circle Y saddles – from $2500
· Corriente Saddles – from $4000
· Reinsman Saddles – average price $3000.
For affordable western saddles, you can opt for brands like Acerugs, Hilason, Wintec, Billy Cook, Tex Tan, Ozark Western, Double T, and Circle S saddles.
What is the Most Comfortable Western Saddle?
Most western saddles from reputed brands are very comfortable. Remember also that a saddle’s comfort is determined by the material used and its size and fit.
For affordable-yet-comfortable saddles, you can choose from brands like Acerugs, Circle Y, Hilason, etc.. You can also increase your saddle comfort with the following tips:
#1. Evaluate your saddle and horse’s shape regularly
As horses age, their shape can change. Similarly, a saddle can also change shape with use (although a high-quality leather saddle will retain its shape and even get better with age. In any case, the saddle that fit last year may not work this year. Change the saddle if your horse’s shape has changed.
#2. Use a saddle blanket/saddle pad underneath
The saddle blanket should extend further than the saddle for enhanced comfort. If needed, try different saddle pads to see which one is the most comfortable. You can also add gel pads over the saddle seats for more comfort.
Also, read Best Western Saddle Pads.
Conclusion – What is the Best All-Around Western Saddle?
Western saddles come in various shapes and sizes. You can choose one for kids or adults. You can also select saddles made from leather, suede, or synthetic materials.
If you are just looking for a simple western saddle for pleasure or trail riding, then the Acerugs saddle is a great choice. This all-around saddle is made using Cordura material which is long-lasting, has superior stain resistance, and is waterproof.
Each Acerugs saddle is lined with soft fleece and thick padding on the underside to keep you and your horse comfortable on long rides. Do check out our other recommendations as well.
Below is a YouTube video we made showing how we saddle a horse.
Are western saddles bad for horses?
If you select a saddle that fits your horse correctly, ensures freedom of movement, and does not rub or brush against sensitive areas, then there is no reason why it should be bad for horses. In fact, a good saddle distributes the rider’s weight evenly to prevent injury to the horse’s back muscles and bones.
What is the difference between English and western saddle?
Western saddles are larger, thicker, and heavier than English saddles. English saddles, being thinner, allow the rider closer contact with the horse.
Meet Miles Henry
An avid equestrian and seasoned racehorse owner, Miles Henry brings his extensive experience to the equine world, proudly associating with the AQHA, The Jockey Club, and various other equine organizations. Beyond the racetrack, Miles is an accomplished author, having published various books about horses, and is a recognized authority in the field, with his work cited in multiple publications.
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