I'm a small girl, and I don't have much muscle lol. My western saddle is really heavy and every time I lift it I like collapse and it takes forever to lift it up to my horse! Any advice? Maybe I just need to do more pushups (;
Lol. I'm stronger than most of the guys at my school because of barn work. Start stacking hay for your barn, etc, barn work majorly builds muscle! For now, you could use a mounting block, or teach your horse to lay down to put the saddle on
LOL, you aren't alone. I spent a lot of years when I wasn't strong enough to effectively handle my own saddle. Building your upper body strength through lifting weights and doing pushups will certainly help. Also, you might consider getting a lighter weight saddle. I know that roping or ranch style saddles usually weigh 40lbs+, but other saddles like barrel and trail saddles can sometimes weigh as little at 20-25.
The thing that helped me the most though, was figuring out how to use my momentum and centrifugal force to help me get it up there. Of course, each person has to find their own position and hand hold that is most comfortable for them.
And I don't have any video of me, but I do have a couple pictures taken at just the right time. As you can see, this is very similar to the video except I use the roll of the cantle as my right handhold and instead of having my left hand in the middle of the gullet, I have it on the skirt of the saddle just below the swell.
^^^ The first time I tried to buck hay, I worked my tail off and was exhausted in minutes. Finally the guy I was working with showed me how to use my leg, swing the bale, etc. No way I could continue lifting 100 lb bales up into the air.
If the horse has been trained for it, and most seem to be, you don't have to lift the saddle onto their back. You can kind of arc it down and swing it up an over, throwing it up and over. The way I've seen it, they will hold the front and sling it on. You could practice slinging it over a 5' corral panel to work your technique without freaking your horse.
Have you tried putting it on from the right side? That way, you can put the left stirrup over the horn and not have to worry about getting the cinches & breast collar over the horse. Plus if you are right handed, your dominant arm will bear the heavier end and do most of the pushing/lifting.
As others suggested, get a swinging motion going and throw your knee into it. It is hard to do when you're short and your horse is taller. Once you get the hang of it and build a little muscle, you will be able to toss a saddle like it weighs nothing.
It's weird, but if you just carry your saddle around for a few minutes daily (if possible), you'll build muscle. I noticed a huge difference in how much my saddle weighed after lugging around old, heavy saddles at camp and then after carrying mine up and down the stairs to get to my apartment. So much easier to swing it up onto a horse now.
And I agree with the hay: If you can move little bales of hay or even a few flakes at a time to feed or something, you'll notice improvement. I have a developed a decent amount of muscle since I started doing barn chores to pay for my boarding.