How do you determine the size you need for an English saddle? - The Horse Forum
  • 1 Post By luvs2ride1979
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post #1 of 10 Old 01-21-2011, 04:24 PM Thread Starter
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How do you determine the size you need for an English saddle?

We are going to a large tack sale next month and my daughter has expressed interest in getting an English saddle for her 4-H horse. Right now she is in a 14" western saddle, but she's almost 9 and grows 4-6 inches a year on average. She can fit in a couple of 15" saddles, if the stirrups go short enough...her own saddle is less than an inch from fitting her legs. I don't want to buy her one that is going to be really short term so about what size should I look for in an English saddle.

I don't know if it matters, but she's around 90 lbs too.

Also, how do the sizes for the horse compare. Her paint fits well in a FQHB western saddle. He's a nice horse to put a saddle on because he's not picky if there is a little pinch or gap. Are the stirrups easier to fit on an English saddle? The western ones that fit, with some growing room are sometimes just a tad too long. At the rate she grows though, I cannot afford to keep upgrading. She grows too fast for that to be reasonable, too.

There could very likely be some information on this forum, but the search function sometimes overwhelms me, and I get WAY more than I wanted.

This tack sale is known for complete sets (saddle, pad and bridle) for less than $100.

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post #2 of 10 Old 01-21-2011, 05:03 PM
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Heres a link it can probably show you better than I can explain it has pictures..
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post #3 of 10 Old 01-21-2011, 05:06 PM Thread Starter
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That is exactly what I needed! Thanks so much. Maybe I'll take her to a tack store and have them fit her in an English saddle so I know what size to look for. I have a hunch there won't necessarily be a place for her to sit on the saddle.

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post #4 of 10 Old 01-22-2011, 03:28 AM
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To answer a few more of your questions:

English stirrups are MUCH easier to fit for length. The stirrup leathers are removable/replaceable with whatever length you need. You can also simply punch holes in her leathers if they are too long. Beware though, if your daughter will be showing, it's best to buy the correct length of leathers (instead of punching holes in long ones) so that she doesn't have 2-feet of excess stirrup leather dangling from her keeper (under her thigh). Child length stirrup leathers are generally about 48 inches (I use these because I am 5'2") and adult ones are about 56 inches.

Seat Size: general rule of thumb, add 2 inches to Western saddle = English saddle. So if your daughter is in a 15" Western, shop around 17" English. Of course, every saddle will be different. I personally have a 15" Circle Y Western, and my English saddles range from 16.5 to 18" (yeah, the 18" is too big for me). Better to err on the side of too-big rather than too-small. Plus, I'm sure she'll be growing!

Tree Size: general rule, FQHB is a wide tree, SQHB is regular/medium tree. For your Paint, I would probably recommend a can always add a half-pad if it's too wide on him. As long as his withers don't come in contact with the underside of the pommel. A too-narrow, pinching saddle sucks! Saddle fitting is very complex, but that's the very minimum basics.

Saddle types: English saddles also come in a variety of styles. If your daughter is in 4H, I assume she is doing things like Pleasure and Equitation (not Dressage or Eventing). For Pleasure and Eq, I would recommend a "Close Contact" or Jumping saddle. These will have a squared cantle (rear of seat) and can have a plain flap or padded flap with or without knee/thigh blocks underneath. (Padded flap--with smooth leather, not suede--is what's "in" right now.) Avoid "All Purpose" saddles...they'll have a rounded cantle, semi-deep seat, and semi-straight flap. All Purpose=No Purpose. Not good for dressage, not good for jumping.

You mentioned that the sale you are attending often has saddle sets for under $100. Just a warning, these sets will be complete garbage. Will there be used tack at the sale? Used saddles are a GREAT option for growing kids on a budget. =)

Whew! Sorry, I got very long-winded there! I guess I'm just passionate about english tack!

Monte - 15 year old Paint/TB
Auric - 13 year old Arab

Last edited by Equina; 01-22-2011 at 03:30 AM.
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post #5 of 10 Old 01-22-2011, 08:56 AM
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My daughter was in the same position, a 14" western saddle when she was 8/9 years old. I bought her a roomy 16.5" English saddle and she didn't outgrow it for about 2 years. As long as your daughter isn't chubby, or if she is, she begins to slim down some as she grows in height (which was the case for my girl), then a 16.5" saddle should continue to fit her until she's about 5'4"-5'6" tall (or a size 4/6 in ladies).

My daughter will be 12 next month and is nearly 5'7" now. She rides in my husband's 18" All Purpose saddle, but fits nicely in a 17" as well. Her new saddle on order is a 17.5", which should fit her through adulthood (I'm guessing she'll be about 5'9" when she's done growing, a good 1.5" taller than mom! lol).

A quality All Purpose saddle is a good choice for a young girl learning English. The deeper seat is more secure and will feel less foriegn. When she gets more serious in to showing or jumping more than 2'6", then a Close Contact or Jumping saddle would be best. However, I thoroughly disagree that All Purposes saddles have no purpose. I teach riding lessons and that's all I have for my beginners, kids and adults. I have only had 2 people fall off in the last 2 years, and both were due to rider error during a spook.

Be sure to look for a good brand name. Look for Stubben, Crosby, Collegiate, Courbette, Passier, Kieffer (hey, you never know what you'll find at a flea market!), Avante, Ovation, Bates, Wintec, or Thorowgood. Stay AWAY from no-name saddles, Borreli, Regent, Kincade, Silver Fox, or anything esle with "cardboard" feeling leather. These are Asian made saddles that don't usually fit horses well and won't last (Borelli is argentine made, but not great). Look for a "Made in" stamp that says any European country, Canada, or Argentina. Though be careful with Argentine saddles. Some are great, some are not. You want to look for soft, supple leather that "feels" quality. English saddles are made with thinner leather than western, so the flaps should be "bendy" if it's a really old saddle, and at least pliable for a newer one.

Good luck!
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Last edited by luvs2ride1979; 01-22-2011 at 09:04 AM.
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post #6 of 10 Old 01-22-2011, 09:57 AM Thread Starter
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Equina, thanks for the detailed info! It's the Monroe tack sale (I saw you're from a bit north of me) so it's all used tack. So a used set for aroun$100 is probably okay. I have a couple of things that are on my list before the saddle, but if I get one at a good price, I'll go for it.

Luvstoride, she is turning 9 in a couple of months and she's about 4'9" and on a growth spurt. She's not chubby, but she's not a string bean. We joke that she's built like a quarter horse. She's wearing a size 7/8 shoe already, so I have a sneaking hunch that she's going to be tall!

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post #7 of 10 Old 01-22-2011, 05:21 PM
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A used set for $100 that is a GOOD brand is probably okay. Some people try to pass off these Asian made "starter packages" for $100 or more when they put pad, girth, bridle, etc. with them. Just be sure to look for a plate under the jockey (by the stirrup bar) or a stamp on a small leather cover flap over the billets that says "Made in", and look for any European country, Canada, or Argentina. Stay away from saddles that say to be made in Pakistan, India, Indonesia, China, etc. Print out the list of brands I posted, so you know what to look for and what to stay away from.
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post #8 of 10 Old 01-22-2011, 05:55 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much. I will take the list of brands. Since we don't NEED one, I'll be on the lookout for one, either at the tack sale, or craig's list, or on consignment but I'll make sure that I'm looking for brand before price.

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post #9 of 10 Old 06-13-2015, 05:41 PM
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It's disgraceful that you have posted that your horse is easy to fit a saddle to, as he doesn't mind a pinch or a gap, how would you like to walk round in shoes that don't fit all day! He probably does mind, but it such a nice horse that he doesn't object, and you are abusing his trust. Shame on you
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post #10 of 10 Old 06-13-2015, 06:50 PM
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