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WVcountrygirl 11-10-2011 06:36 PM

Wanting to switch to English, have a few ?s (=
I've always rode western because that's all anyone around me has rode but I really admire the looks of English tack & riders. I just pleasure & trail ride my Tennessee walking horse so I'm not sure if there's a difference. So I guess my questions are, is an English saddle comfortable in long distance trail rides? Will it affect my horse who is used to western tack? Will an English saddle fit my gaited horse comfortably? I have a western saddle specifically made for gaited horses shoulders. Do I need to learn a different position or posture for riding? Also I'm 21, 5'2, average build (130 pounds) so about what inch saddle would fit me best? I know you probably don't know without seeing me & the saddle but I have no way of trying one out first, I was looking at a 17 inch one but would hate to get one way to small or big. Thank you for any input you may have for me! (=
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Joe4d 11-10-2011 08:15 PM

generally add 2 inches to to your western seat to get the proper english measurement. I ride Austrailian so not really sure what I do. I went to the Yosemite Sam school of horsemanship so pretty much know YAH MULE and WHoooo Mule, and hang on as apropriate.
An English saddle isnt just an English saddle any more than a western saddle is a western saddle. They are designed for specific tasks. Just like your western barrel or roping or trail saddles are designed differently.
You may like the huntseats or the endurance style English saddles. A bit more security and padding for cross country stuff.
Just like western they come in different gullet sizes for different horses.

waresbear 11-10-2011 08:19 PM

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As for the fitting part for gaited horses, sorry can't help you there. Yes, an english saddle is just as comfortable, for me anyways, to ride long distances in. I ride & show, both english & western, I prefer english when trail riding.

Saskia 11-10-2011 09:13 PM

As mentioned, there are different types of English saddles, the most popular being the dressage saddle, close contact or jump saddle, and the all purpose saddle. I think out of all of these the dressage is the most comfortable, and would be my choice of saddle. Some people prefer the all purpose as it allows a bit more flexibility for jumping.

I don't know what position you ride in now, but I am guessing you will need to make some changes. English riders I think tend to sit in a straighter seat with their legs underneath them.

The biggest change for your horse will probably be getting used to a new bit and riding a contact if you don't do that already. Most of english riding is ridden on a light contact and more direct reining, rather than neck reining. I guess it depends what you plan to do though, and what you do now.

Good luck and have fun!

I'd probably guess you're a 16 or 16 1/2 inch saddle. Go into the store and ask though, they might be able to help you out. I think english saddles can be a bit harder to fit than western saddles, but if you look around you can find some. I use a Wintec saddle, which is a cheap synthetic brand with an adjustable gullet, so it will fit more of a range of horses, but still not all. Many people don't like Wintecs but I think for their price range they're a good basic saddle.

I don't think english saddles are particularly comfortable. Many people I know will ride in a stock saddle (i'm Australian) for trail rides as they are much more secure and comfortable. I hear the western saddles are comfy but I've never ridden in one to compare.

BravadoThePony 11-10-2011 10:32 PM


Will an English saddle fit my gaited horse comfortably?
If you get your saddle properly fitted, yes, it should fit very comfortably. Since you are new to English I would get someone experienced to help you with this.

Do I need to learn a different position or posture for riding?
Yes. English riders ride much more upright and forward than most western riders. I would imagine riding like an English rider in a western saddle would get you shanked with the horn. Dx In english you ride with your legs at the girth(English equivalent to the cinch) and a straight line from your heels through your hips and shoulders. English riders do not neck rein but ride with light contact through the reins. Most english riders also ride with shorter stirrups.

Also I'm 21, 5'2, average build (130 pounds) so about what inch saddle would fit me best?
Very hard to say without looking at you. You really have to sit in a saddle to know how well it fits you. Mine is a 17.5 inch saddle with a long flap and I am just over 5'6" with loooong legs. :) I think a kind of general rule of thumb is to add 2in to your western seat size, like Joe4d said.

Also, consider what you want to do. If you just want to dink around on your horse, an All Purpose saddle would probably suit your needs fantastically, but if you really want to pursue a specific discipline then get your saddle accordingly. Close contact for huntseat, dressage saddle for dressage, etc.

amp23 11-10-2011 10:51 PM

I just recently switched from western to english, so I was in your boat just a few weeks ago. I rode in a 15" western and am now in an 18" english because of my long legs and the fact that my BO had the extra eventing saddle sitting around that was suuuuper comfy! Sit in a few different saddles and see how they feel. I will second what everyone else has said, though, they've given you some good advice. My hardest thing switching was getting used to riding with a shorter stirrup.. I started off longer and slowly went up until I felt really comfortable with it.

I can't help you with finding what saddle would fit your horse, but if you know of anyone with an english saddle you could borrow, see how it fits your horse and how he reacts to it. There are 2 horses at my barn that absolutely hate english, they don't like the closer leg contact, and are both mares and act extremely marish when ridden english.

If you ever have any questions or anything feel free to ask away :)

WVcountrygirl 11-10-2011 11:59 PM

All the replies are AWESOME & extremely helpful! Amp23, what do you mean by "marish"? I have a mate & have heard that mates tend to be more moody, especially while in season but I've had a couple people tell me that are around my horse a lot that that she acts like most geldings. Is that what you meant by that? The info is wonderful, thank you!!
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WVcountrygirl 11-10-2011 11:59 PM

I meant mares, my iPhone keeps changing it to mates, ugh!
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SarahAnn 11-11-2011 12:07 AM

I just started lessons in english, and bought a saddle from my trainer. She said its a perfect fit for me... I am the same height and weight as you and it's a 16 inch saddle. Seemed very comfortable to me as well. BUT our legs may or may not be the same length.
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SarahAnn 11-11-2011 12:13 AM

You can also get english saddles that have a bit of a "bucket" like a western does, so you have something to help guide you when you're learning. The one I bought has a bucket, as opposed to my trainer's english saddle, which is practically flat.
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