How To Saddle A Horse

Horse riding is an exciting and exhilarating hobby. It’s also a wonderful skill to have, and one that can bring you a lot of joy. If you’re a beginner to horse riding, then it can be a little overwhelming trying to learn all of the tricks and techniques of the trade.

This is why it is better off to start slow, and learn some of the basics before you actually start jumping up onto the back of a horse. 

Getting accustomed to riding a horse can be a long process, and there are lots of things to remember. What is essential on this journey is ensuring that you are riding safely, and tacking up the horse properly before heading out. 

One of the best skills you can learn is to saddle a horse. This will ensure that you, and the horse is ready for a day of riding, and that the saddle is securely placed and does not cause the horse any discomfort. 

How To Saddle A Horse

Step One

The first step is saddling the horse is to tie the horse up and ensure it is secure. Make sure that your horse is tied so that they stay in one position, as this will make it much easier to get your horse ready to go. 

We recommend that you tie your horse with a lead rope, as this will make it easier for you to lead your horse out of the stable when preparing to ride. To tie a lead rope, it is best if you use a quick release knot, or a slip knot. This will make it much easier to maneuver the horse once you’re done saddling up. 

Step Two

Once your horse is secure, it’s time to groom it. This will be perfect for helping you bond with the horse, and it will relax your horse a little too. To groom the horse, make sure that you brush down the body. 

It’s best to use a curry comb to do the body as this will help to remove mud that is packed into the hair and fur. Then, you can use a stiff brush to get off any dust or hair, and finish with a soft brush to smoothen.

You’ll want to mainly brush the areas of the back, belly and girth to ensure that the saddle sits nicely on their back. Then, you will want to brush out the mane and tail, removing tangles and knots from the hair. 

Finally, check the hooves for stones. If you’re inexperienced, then do this with a professional or experienced rider in case you’re unsure, or to prevent getting kicked.

Before you move onto the next step, ensure that the horse does not have any lumps, sores, cuts, bumps or swelling in the saddle area. This can make them unfit for riding, as it will be too uncomfortable for them. This is an essential step and should never be skipped. 

Step Three

Now, it’s time to start saddling up. First, place the blanket on, or the saddle pad. This goes on before the saddle as it protects the horse’s back. You’ll want to place it higher on the withers, and slide it into place. 

It should fall naturally in the right position, as these are designed to fit snugly onto the horse’s back. Ensure it is even so it does not fall off, and you’re ready to move on. 

Step Four

Next, you’re ready to place the saddle on. This is where you choose to ride Western or English style. A Western saddle is designed for work, such as ranch use, so it has a high back and saddle horn to make it more comfortable and easy to use for long hours on a horse. 

An English style saddle is more for formal riding events or show riding, so it tends to be smaller and more compact. For the purpose of this, we will show you how to ride Western style. 

Place the saddle onto the horse, standing on its left side. Flip the right side cinches and stirrup over the saddle, and swing the saddle on the horse, rocking it until it is in position. Then, unfold the cinches and stirrup. 

Make sure that the saddle is in the correct position by lining up the center line with the spine of the horse, and ensuring that the stirrups hang equally on both sides. You should be able to place two fingers under the gullet (the curve under the horn at the front) of the saddle without any struggle.

Step Five

With the saddle in position, it’s time to secure the main cinch. You have to do this to secure the saddle for riding. To do so, pull the cinch under the belly towards you and slip the strap through the buckle. Pull it all of the way, but ensure it is not twisted at all. 

Then, pull at the latigo strap to slip it through the D ring on the saddle, from the outside in, and leave the ring angling towards the left.  Make sure it is snug but not too tight. Straighten the secured strap, and pull down on the tail of the latigo to tighten up the cinch. 

Then, move the tail of the latigo horizontally to bring it up through the D ring of the saddle again, but on the left side, and slip the tail through the loop to fasten. If you’re unsure of how to secure it, ask an experienced rider to show you.

Once secured, walk the horse for a moment to help it relax, and ensure that everything is in place, not too loose and not too tight. Adjust accordingly. Finally, tighten the cinch by pulling the top of the latigo strap upwards, keeping the knot tight. Then, check the back cinch has a two finger gap between your horse’s belly and the bottom of the cinch.

Now, lead your horse forward to ensure no skin is wrinkling or trapped under the cinch while riding and attach the breast collar if needed. Then, you can mount your horse and you’re good to go!

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