Contrary to popular belief, English and Western saddles are not measured in the same way. English saddles are measured from the center of the cantle to the side of the pommel, while western saddles are measured from the points in the middle of the saddle. This is the reason you should always choose a western saddle one size smaller than your English saddle. Continue reading to learn how to measure a horse saddle seat.
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Table of Contents
Measuring An English Saddle Seat
Measure from the nail head by placing a tape measure in the middle of the cantle. English saddle seat measurements are taken every 0.5″, so round up or down if you are off by a few centimeters. Make sure to hold the tape measure straight; avoid bending it into the shape of a saddle. You can measure your upper leg to determine what size you truly require as a rider once you’ve determined what size your saddle is. Visit this page to use our English saddle seat calculator.
Measuring A Western Saddle Seat
Western saddles include seat measurements in inches, such as 14″, 15″, 15 1/2″, 16″, etc. Before the saddle is constructed, the measurement is made on the bare tree.
Measuring The Tree
Both the Cliff Wade tree and the Buster Welch have the same top of the gullet at the back of the swell and the leading edge of the cantle.
The base of the horn towards the back of the swell is another frequently used reference point. This reference point creates a difficulty since waves will have a forward “tilt” to them, or lean forward instead of being vertical. The degree of this forward “tilt” varies with the type of swell. The distance between the base of the horn and the leading edge of the cantle on the Buster Welch Cutter tree shows that the swell has little “tilt.” The Cliff Wade tree has more “tilt,” in contrast.
Measuring The Saddle
Western saddle seats are sized by measuring the distance between the stitching on the cantle binder and the top of the gullet at the back of the swell.
The size of the tree seat will be roughly represented by this measurement. The size of the finished seat will be smaller than the tree size. The real variation will rely on the saddle maker’s choice of materials and construction methods. The difference for a smooth or unpadded seat will range from 3/8″ to 1/2″. A fully padded seat will produce a 5/8″ to 7/8″ difference.
Final Thoughts On How To Measure A Horse Saddle Seat
In the end, the seat size has no bearing on measurements. What counts is how the saddle looks when it’s mounted on the horse. T18, or the 18th thoracic vertebra, is where the saddle should not extend since doing so could hurt or injure your horse. The saddle should also have the right size to evenly distribute the rider’s weight. The rider’s bum will protrude from the back of the saddle if the saddle is too small for them, which will exert a lot of strain on the horse’s back.