How to Measure Saddle Size: Comprehensive Guide

horse black leather English saddle close view

A saddle is an essential part of horse riding tack. Choosing a proper saddle size makes riding safe and comfy.

So, how to measure Western saddle size? A Western saddle is measured from the center points in the midst of the saddle. The size ranges in half-inch increments. Western saddles come from 12 to 17 inches. Make sure the distance between you and the swell fork of the saddle is about 4 inches.

How to measure an English saddle? An English saddle is measured from the middle of the cantle to either side of the pommel. When buying an English saddle, go one size up from your Western saddle. The size ranges in half-inch increments. There should be a two-finger distance between your knee and the top point of the saddle flap.

Here’s an ultimate guide on how to measure saddle size properly.

It will help you to choose the right horse tack.

Horse Saddle Parts Chart

Choosing a horse saddle for the first time may be confusing. To avoid that, here’s a detailed chart that depicts all the main parts of a horse saddle.

A basic structure of a saddle includes the following parts:

  • a saddle tree is the base of the saddle. The other parts are attached to the tree. However, there are treeless saddles too (both Western and English) that obviously have no tree. Some equestrians find them more flexible. The gear helps to maintain the horse’s proper well-being. The truth is it’s up to you what style is more convenient for you and your horse.
  • pommel (swell) is a front part of the saddle. It provides a solid grip for the rider.
  • seat is placed in the middle of the saddle where the horseman sits.
  • cantle is the back part of the saddle. It supports the rider’s back.
  • stirrups are footrests for the rider’s feet. They are attached to the gear with fenders or leathers.
saddle basic structure
Image Source: allpony.com

As we already mentioned, saddles can be English and Western. Depending on the style, the tack’s design is different. Read our ultimate horse tack guide to get more information.

woman is leasing a horse with black English saddle

How to Measure English Saddle Seat Size

Choosing the right seat size is highly important. It provides a safe and comfy ride for you and your horse. Besides, the proper size affects your ability to move. As well as it boosts your riding efficiency. The same goes for horses. The animal can’t perform aptly in case of wobbling tack gear.

English saddles are used for English riding disciplines. These include dressage, eventing, fox hunting, jumping, and trail riding. Each riding discipline requires a saddle specially designed for it. But all the English saddles are made to provide a comfy riding position and free moves. While the rider is sitting on the horse’s back.

Most saddle makers provide their customers with detailed guidelines on how to measure a saddle seat size. Check the product’s description before buying the good. Here’s a common way to measure an English size saddle:

  1. Take a measuring tape and sit down on a chair. Check if your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Your feet are flat on the floor. The lower back is close to the back of the chair.
  2. Using the measuring tape, measure from the back of your buttocks to the back of your knee.

Use this length to find your perfect saddle size:

Rider's Leg LengthSaddle Size
<16.5"15"
16.5" - 18.5"16"
18.5" - 20"16.5"
20" - 21.5"17"
21.5" - 23"17.5"
23"+18"

If you’re in between two neighbor saddle sizes, choose the bigger one. You’re likely to not feel the gear is bulky. Use a saddle pad to adjust the gear’s fit.

In general, the following measurements may help you to choose a size quickly.

  • A 14″ – 16.5″ saddle is good for kids.
  • A 17″ – 18″ is suitable for an average adult.
  • An 18″+ saddle is great for big adults.

Such guidelines are not precise. It’s just a chart with approximate measurements. They can help you double-check if you choose the right tack. If the size you picked and the measurements from the chart are impressively different, that’s a sign to check the saddle again. Just in case.

front view of leather Western saddle

How to Measure a Saddle Gullet

Gullet size is an essential aspect when choosing an English saddle. It’s the part under the fork that is placed over the horse’s withers. The gullet puts the bars of the saddle together. The angle determines the saddle size. The proper gullet height is between 2-4 finger width between the saddle fork and the horse’s withers.

To measure a saddle gullet, do the following. You have to measure the withers. Take a flexible wire that can be bent easily. Place it over the wither 2″ behind the horse’s shoulder blade. The wire is bent creating a slight arch shape.

Put the wire on a piece of paper. Take a pen or pencil and trace along the inner side of the wire. Make sure you don’t move the wire while tracing. The width of the gullet determines the width of a saddle. As well as the width of the horse’s withers.

Gullet Size Chart

WidthGullet Size
6"Narrow
6.5"Medium
7"Wide
8"Extra Wide
man is leading a horse with Western saddle

How to Measure Western Saddle Seat Size

Western saddles have their unique design that is different from English. Thus, if you’d like to take up Western disciplines, you should pick the suitable tack. Keep in mind that Western seat sizes are not equal to the English seat sizes!

A Western saddle is 2 inches smaller than an English saddle. For instance, if you ride on a 17″ English saddle, you may need a 15″ Western saddle. It’s just an approximate assumption. Anyway, you should take a measurement to get the right size.

The following guidelines may help make the right choice.

  • A 12″ – 14″ saddle is great for youth.
  • A 14″ – 15″ is ideal for an average adult.
  • A 15″+ saddle is got for big adults.

Western saddles have longer stirrup length. Check if your leg is protected by the fender. The fender is the wide leather attached to the stirrup.

cowboy is mounting horse with Western saddle

Check if Your Saddle Fits Well

There are two types of horse saddles – Western and English. Each of them has special designs suitable for the disciplines performed. Thus, the way to determine the proper size is different too.

English saddle size can be picked by measuring the upper leg length. While Western seat size is two inches smaller than English. When buying a horse saddle, check if the gear is comfortable for you and your companion.

Apart from a saddle, consider a cinch that is attached to the saddle underneath. This piece will bring more protection and safety while riding.

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David Garcia

David Garcia

David Garcia is a vivid writer and a big fan of equestrian sports. He founded Horsezz – the blog where David shares his knowledge and experience about horses, tack, equestrian riding equipment, taking care of horses, and other useful guidelines.