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  • Sandy Stetson

The Difference Between English and Western Saddles

Updated: May 5, 2022

If you have seen horses portrayed in TV or the movies or even seen them in real life, you have likely noticed that not all saddles look exactly the same. There are a lot of different kinds of specialty saddles out there, but most of them are derivatives of the two main types: Western and English.

Western saddles and English saddles serve the same main function (allowing the rider to sit perched on the horse’s back), but outside of that, they really could not be more different. Below, we will take a look at these two types of saddles so you can know them from one another.

A Look at English Saddles

English saddles are a derivative of the first-ever saddles fashioned by early riders, so we will start by looking at them today. English saddles are small and light and allow riders to sit close to the horse’s back.

They are designed to be low profile for the horse and allow the rider to sit upright and erect. English saddles are traditionally used for dressage, showjumping, hunting, polo, and racing events, as their design is well-suited to the intricate movements required by both horse and rider for these disciplines.

A Look at Western Saddles

Western saddles were designed for cowboys, cowgirls, and ranchers who spend long days on horseback, and as such, are much larger and more comfortable than English saddles. Western saddles are heavier, but because they have a much larger profile, the extra weight is distributed throughout the horse’s back instead of being concentrated right behind the withers.

Western saddles are most distinctive due to their horn—it is located on the front of the saddle, and it is used for a lariat or lasso when working cattle.

Are English or Western Saddles Better?

It is hard to say that English or Western saddles are superior to one another because it really boils down to what you are using them for. Western saddles are what we use here at Sombrero for our trail rides because they are more comfortable for riders and easier for beginners to navigate, so for our purposes, they are ideal.

However, for English riders interested in jumping, dressage or other sporting events, the low-profile design of an English saddle would be the way to go.

If you are ready to get in the saddle, we would love to have you! Check out our website today for booking information.

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