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The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to
an animal's back
an animal's back
by a
girth Girth may refer to: ;Mathematics * Girth (functional analysis), the length of the shortest centrally symmetric simple closed curve on the unit sphere of a Banach space * Girth (geometry), the perimeter of a parallel projection of a shape * Girth (g ...
. The most common type is the equestrian saddle designed for a
horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to ...
. However, specialized saddles have been created for
ox
ox
en,
camel A camel is an even-toed ungulate The even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla , ) are ungulates—hoofed animals—which bear weight equally on two (an even number) of their five toes: the third and fourth. The other three toes are either present, ...

camel
s and other animals. It is not known precisely when riders first began to use some sort of padding or protection, but a blanket attached by some form of
surcingle wearing a surcingle. A surcingle is a strap made of leather or leather-like synthetic materials such as nylon or neoprene, sometimes with elastic, that fastens around the horse's wikt:girth, girth. A surcingle may be used for horse training, grou ...
or girth was probably the first "saddle", followed later by more elaborate padded designs. The solid
saddle tree The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to Mammal#Anatomy, an animal's back by a girth (tack), girth. The most common type is the equestrian saddle designed for a Back (horse), horse. However, specialized sad ...
was a later invention, and though early
stirrup A stirrup is a light frame or ring that holds the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to an animal's back by a girth Girth may refer to: ;Mathematics * Girth ( ...

stirrup
designs predated the invention of the solid tree, the paired stirrup, which attached to the tree, was the last element of the saddle to reach the basic form that is still used today. Today, modern saddles come in a wide variety of styles, each designed for a specific
equestrianism Equestrianism (from Latin , , , 'horseman', 'horse'), commonly known as horse riding (British English) or horseback riding (American English), includes the disciplines of riding, Driving (horse), driving, and Equestrian vaulting, vaulting. Thi ...

equestrianism
discipline, and require careful fit to both the rider and the horse. Proper saddle care can extend the useful life of a saddle, often for decades. The saddle was a crucial step in the increased use of
domesticated animal Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictable supply of resources from that seco ...
s, during the Classical Era.


Etymology

The word "saddle" originates from the
Proto-Germanic language Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the linguistic reconstruction, reconstructed proto-language of the Germanic languages, Germanic branch of the Indo-European languages. Proto-Germanic eventually developed from ...
, with
cognate In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Itali ...
s in various other
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken language), Signed language, sign, or o ...
, including the Latin ''sella''.


Parts

* Tree: the base on which the rest of the saddle is built – usually based on wood or a similar synthetic material. The saddler eventually covers it with leather or with a leather-like synthetic. The tree's size determines its fit on the horse's back, as well as the size of the seat for the rider. It provides a bearing surface to protect the horse from the weight of the rider. The solid saddle tree raises the rider above the horse's back, and distributes the rider's weight, reducing the
pounds per square inch The pound per square inch or, more accurately, pound-force per square inch (symbol: lbf/in2; abbreviation: psi) is a unit of pressure Pressure (symbol: ''p'' or ''P'') is the force In physics, a force is an influence that can change ...
carried on any one part of the horse's back, thus greatly increasing the comfort of the horse and prolonging its useful life.Bennett (1998) * Seat: the part of the saddle where the rider sits, it is usually lower than the pommel and cantle to provide security * Pommel (English)/ swells (Western): the front, slightly raised area of the saddle. * Cantle: the rear of the saddle *
Stirrup A stirrup is a light frame or ring that holds the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to an animal's back by a girth Girth may refer to: ;Mathematics * Girth ( ...

Stirrup
: part of the saddle in which the rider's feet are placed; provides support and leverage to the rider. * Leathers and flaps (English), or fenders (Western): The leather straps connecting the stirrups to the saddle tree and leather flaps giving support to the rider's leg and protecting the rider from sweat. * D-ring: a "D"-shaped ring on the front of a saddle, to which certain pieces of equipment (such as breastplates) can be attached. *
Girth Girth may refer to: ;Mathematics * Girth (functional analysis), the length of the shortest centrally symmetric simple closed curve on the unit sphere of a Banach space * Girth (geometry), the perimeter of a parallel projection of a shape * Girth (g ...
or cinch: A wide strap that goes under the horse's barrel, just behind the front legs of the horse that holds the saddle on. * Panels, lining, or padding: Cushioning on the underside of the saddle. Some saddles also include: *
Surcingle wearing a surcingle. A surcingle is a strap made of leather or leather-like synthetic materials such as nylon or neoprene, sometimes with elastic, that fastens around the horse's wikt:girth, girth. A surcingle may be used for horse training, grou ...
: A long strap that goes all the way around the horse's barrel. Depending on purpose, may be used by itself, placed over a pad or blanket only, or placed over a saddle (often in addition to a girth) to help hold it on. * Monkey grip or less commonly jug handle: a handle that may be attached to the front of European saddles or on the right side of Australian stock saddle. A rider may use it to help maintain their seat or to assist in mounting. * Horn: knob-like appendage attached to the pommel or swells, most commonly associated with the modern western saddle, but seen on some saddle designs in other cultures. * Knee rolls: Seen on some English saddles, extra padding on the front of the flaps to help stabilize the rider's leg. Sometimes thigh rolls are also added to the back of the flap.


History and development

There is evidence, though disputed, that humans first began riding the horse not long after
domestication Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictable supply of resources from that sec ...
, possibly as early as 4000 BC. The earliest known saddle-like equipment were fringed cloths or pads used by
Assyrian cavalry The Neo-Assyrian Empire arose in the 10th century BC. Ashurnasirpal II is credited for utilizing sound strategy in his wars of conquest. While aiming to secure defensible frontiers, he would launch raids further inland against his opponents as a ...
around 700 BC. These were held on with a girth or
surcingle wearing a surcingle. A surcingle is a strap made of leather or leather-like synthetic materials such as nylon or neoprene, sometimes with elastic, that fastens around the horse's wikt:girth, girth. A surcingle may be used for horse training, grou ...
that included breast straps and
crupper A crupper (; occ. spelled crouper) is a piece of tack used on horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant ...
s.Beatie, Russel H. ''Saddles'', University of Oklahoma Press, 1981
, , 9780806115849 P.18-22
From the earliest depictions, saddles became
status symbol A status symbol is a visible, external symbol of one's social position, an indicator of economic or social status Social status is the level of social value a person is considered to hold. More specifically, it refers to the relative level of r ...
s. To show off an individual's wealth and status, embellishments were added to saddles, including elaborate sewing and leather work, precious metals such as gold, carvings of wood and horn, and other ornamentation. The North Iranian
Eurasian nomads The Eurasian nomads were a large group of nomad A nomad ( frm, nomade "people without fixed habitation") is a member of a community without fixed habitation who regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherer ...
known in Europe as
Scythians The Scythians (from grc, Σκύθης , ) or Scyths, also known as Saka and Sakae ( ; egy, 𓋴𓎝𓎡𓈉 The ancient Egyptian Hill-country or "Foreign land" hieroglyph (𓈉) is a member of the sky, earth, and water hieroglyphs. A ...
and in Asia as
Saka The Saka, Śaka, Shaka, Śāka or Sacae ( ; Kharosthi: ; Brahmi script, Brahmi: , ; sa, wiktionary:शक#Sanskrit, शक , ; grc, Σάκαι ; la, Sacae; , Old Chinese, old , Pinyin, mod. , ; egy, wiktionary:sk#Etymology 2, 𓋴𓎝 ...

Saka
developed an early form of saddle with a rudimentary frame, which included two parallel leather cushions, with girth attached to them, a pommel and cantle with detachable bone/horn/hardened leather facings, leather thongs, a
crupper A crupper (; occ. spelled crouper) is a piece of tack used on horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant ...
,
breastplate A breastplate or chestplate is a device worn over the torso to protect it from injury, as an item of religious significance, or as an item of status. A breastplate is sometimes worn by mythological beings as a distinctive item of clothing. Europ ...
, and a felt
shabrack A shabrack or shabraque ( tr, çaprak, hu, csábrák) is a saddle blanket, saddlecloth, formerly used by European light cavalry. The shabraque was an accoutrement of the hussar cavalry, based on the Hungary, Hungarian horsemen in Austrian servic ...
adorned with animal motifs. These were located in
Pazyryk burials The Pazyryk burials are a number of Scythian The Scythians (from grc, Σκύθης , ) or Scyths, also known as Saka and Sakae ( ; egy, 𓋴𓎝𓎡𓈉 The ancient Egyptian Hill-country or "Foreign land" hieroglyph (𓈉) is a mem ...
finds."State Hermitage Museum: Southern Siberia/Pazyryk"
.
These saddles, found in the
Ukok Plateau Image:Pazyrykfull.jpg, 200px, Pazyryk carpet, 5th century BC Ukok Plateau is a plateau covered by grasslands located in southwestern Siberia">grasslands.html" ;"title="plateau covered by grasslands">plateau covered by grasslands located in sou ...

Ukok Plateau
,
Siberia Siberia (; rus, Сибирь, r=Sibir', p=sʲɪˈbʲirʲ, a=Ru-Сибирь.ogg) is an extensive geographical region, constituting all of North Asia, from the Ural Mountains in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east. It has been a part of R ...

Siberia
were dated to 500-400 BC. ''Frozen Tombs of Siberia: The Pazyryk Burials of Iron Age Horsemen'', Author Sergeĭ Ivanovich Rudenko, Publisher, University of California Press, 1970
, , 9780520013957 P.129-167
Iconographic Iconology is a method of interpretation in cultural history and the history of the visual arts used by Aby Warburg, Erwin Panofsky and their followers that uncovers the cultural, social, and historical background of themes and subjects in the visual ...
evidence of a predecessor to the modern saddle has been found in the art of the ancient Armenians,
Assyrians Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East * Assyrian Church (disambiguation) * Assyrian language (disambiguation) * SS Assyrian, SS ''Assyrian'', seve ...
, and steppe nomads depicted on the Assyrian stone
relief carving carving of a Viking ship Image:Carving tools 2.jpg, 250px, Carving tools and a mallet Relief carving is a type of wood carving in which figures are carved in a flat panel of wood. The figures project only slightly from the background rather than s ...
s from the time of
Ashurnasirpal II Ashur-nasir-pal II (: ''Aššur-nāṣir-apli'', meaning " is guardian of the heir") was king of from 883 to 859 BC. Ashurnasirpal II succeeded his father, , in 883 BC. During his reign he embarked on a vast program of expansion, first conqueri ...
. The
Scythians The Scythians (from grc, Σκύθης , ) or Scyths, also known as Saka and Sakae ( ; egy, 𓋴𓎝𓎡𓈉 The ancient Egyptian Hill-country or "Foreign land" hieroglyph (𓈉) is a member of the sky, earth, and water hieroglyphs. A ...
also developed an early saddle that included padding and decorative embellishments. Though they had neither a solid tree nor stirrups, these early treeless saddles and pads provided protection and comfort to the rider, with a slight increase in security. The
Sarmatians The Sarmatians (; Ancient Greek, Greek: ; la, Sarmatae , ) were a large Iranian peoples, Iranian confederation that existed in classical antiquity, flourishing from about the fifth century BC to the fourth century AD. Originating in the centr ...
also used a padded treeless early saddle, possibly as early as the seventh century BC and ancient Greek artworks of
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
of
Macedon Macedonia (; grc-gre, Μακεδονία), also called Macedon (), was an Classical antiquity, ancient monarchy, kingdom on the periphery of Archaic Greece, Archaic and Classical Greece, and later the dominant state of Hellenistic Greece. Th ...

Macedon
depict a saddle cloth. Early solid-treed saddles were made of felt that covered a wooden frame. Chinese saddles are depicted among the cavalry horses in the
Terracotta Army The Terracotta Army is a collection of sculptures depicting the armies of , the first . It is a form of buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE with the purpose of protecting the emperor in his afterlife. The figures, dating from approximat ...

Terracotta Army
of the
Qin dynasty The Qin dynasty, or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of ever ...

Qin dynasty
, completed by 206 BC. Asian designs proliferated during
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
's
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
approximately 200 BC. One of the earliest solid-treed saddles in the
Western world The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and state (polity), states, depending on the context, most often consisting of the majority of Europe, Northern America, and Australasia.
was the "four horn" design, first used by the
Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, ...
as early as the 1st century BC. Neither design had stirrups. The development of the solid saddle tree was significant; it raised the rider above the horse's back, and distributed the rider's weight on either side of the animal's spine instead of pinpointing pressure at the rider's seat bones, reducing the
pressure Pressure (symbol: ''p'' or ''P'') is the force In physics, a force is an influence that can change the motion (physics), motion of an Physical object, object. A force can cause an object with mass to change its velocity (e.g. moving fr ...

pressure
(force per unit area) on any one part of the horse's back, thus greatly increasing the comfort of the horse and prolonging its useful life. The invention of the solid saddle tree also allowed development of the true stirrup as it is known today. Without a solid tree, the rider's weight in the stirrups creates abnormal pressure points and makes the horse's back sore.
Thermography Infrared thermography (IRT), thermal video and/or thermal imaging, is a process where a Thermographic camera, thermal camera captures and creates an image of an object by using infrared radiation emitted from the object in a process, which are e ...
studies on "treeless" and flexible tree saddle designs have found that there is considerable friction across the center line of a horse's back.West, Christy. "AAEP 2004: Evaluating Saddle Fit." ''TheHorse.com,'' February 04 2005, Article # 5393
Web site accessed February 2, 2008
The
stirrup A stirrup is a light frame or ring that holds the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to an animal's back by a girth Girth may refer to: ;Mathematics * Girth ( ...

stirrup
was one of the milestones in saddle development. The first stirrup-like object was invented in India in the 2nd century BC, and consisted of a simple leather strap in which the rider's toe was placed. It offered very little support, however. Nomadic tribes in
Mongolia Mongolia (, mn, Монгол Улс, Mongol Uls, Mongolian script, Traditional Mongolian: '; literal translation, lit. "Mongol Nation" or "State of Mongolia") is a landlocked country in East Asia. It is bordered by Russia Mongolia–Russia ...

Mongolia
are thought to have been the inventors of the modern stirrup, but the first dependable representation of a rider with paired stirrups was found in China in a Jin Dynasty tomb of about 302 AD. The stirrup appeared to be in widespread use across China by 477 AD, and later spread to Europe. This invention gave great support for the rider, and was essential in later
warfare War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (new ...
.


Post-classical West Africa

Accounts of the cavalry system of the
Mali Empire The Mali Empire ( Manding: ''Mandé''Ki-Zerbo, Joseph: ''UNESCO General History of Africa, Vol. IV, Abridged Edition: Africa from the Twelfth to the Sixteenth Century'', p. 57. University of California Press, 1997. or Manden; ar, مالي, Mā ...
describe the use of stirrups and saddles in the cavalry . Stirrups and Saddles brought about innovation in new tactics, such as mass charges with thrusting spears and swords.


Middle Ages

Saddles were improved upon during the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
, as
knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic qualification. In so ...

knight
s needed saddles that were stronger and offered more support. The resulting saddle had a higher ''cantle'' and ''pommel'' (to prevent the rider from being unseated in warfare) and was built on a wooden tree that supported more weight from a rider with armor and weapons. This saddle, a predecessor to the modern
Western saddle Western saddles are used for western riding and are the saddles used on working horses on cattle ranches throughout the United States, particularly in the west. They are the "cowboy" saddles familiar to movie viewers, rodeo fans, and those who hav ...
, was originally padded with wool or horsehair and covered in leather or textiles. It was later modified for
cattle Cattle, taurine cattle, Eurasian cattle, or European cattle (''Bos taurus'' or ''Bos primigenius taurus'') are large domestication, domesticated Cloven hoof, cloven-hooved herbivores. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae ...

cattle
tending and
bullfighting Bullfighting is a physical contest that involves a bullfighter and animals attempting to subdue, immobilize, or kill a bull, usually according to a set of rules, guidelines, or cultural expectations. There are several variations, including s ...

bullfighting
in addition to the continual development for use in war. Other saddles, derived from earlier, treeless designs, sometimes added solid trees to support stirrups, but were kept light for use by messengers and for
horse racing Horse racing is an equestrian The word equestrian is a reference to Equestrianism, horseback riding, derived from Latin ' and ', "horse". Horseback riding (or Riding in British English) Notable examples of this are: *List of equestrian spo ...

horse racing
.


Modernity

The saddle eventually branched off into different designs that became the modern
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
and
Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...
saddles. One variant of the
English saddle horse wearing a type of English saddle known as a dressage saddle. English saddles are used to ride horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a domesticated odd-toed ungulate mammal. It belongs to the taxonomic family Equidae and is one ...

English saddle
was developed by François Robinchon de la Guérinière, a riding master and author of "Ecole de Cavalerie" who made major contributions to what today is known as
classical dressage Classical dressage evolved from cavalry Cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who Horses in warfare, fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the most mo ...
. He put great emphasis on the proper development of a "three point" seat that is still used today by many
dressage Dressage ( or ; a French term, most commonly translated to mean "training") is a form of horse riding performed in exhibition and competition, as well as an art sometimes pursued solely for the sake of mastery. As an equestrian The word equestr ...
riders. In the 18th century,
fox hunting Fox hunting is an activity involving the tracking, chase and, if caught, the killing of a fox, traditionally a red fox The red fox (''Vulpes vulpes'') is the largest of the true foxes and one of the most widely distributed members of the ...

fox hunting
became increasingly popular in England. The high-cantle, high-pommel design of earlier saddles became a hindrance, unsafe and uncomfortable for riders as they jumped. Due to this fact, Guérinière's saddle design which included a low pommel and cantle and allowed for more freedom of movement for both horse and rider, became increasingly popular throughout northern Europe. In the early 20th century, Captain Frederico Caprilli revolutionized the jumping saddle by placing the flap at an angle that allowed a rider to achieve the forward seat necessary for jumping high fences and traveling rapidly across rugged terrain. The modern
Western saddle Western saddles are used for western riding and are the saddles used on working horses on cattle ranches throughout the United States, particularly in the west. They are the "cowboy" saddles familiar to movie viewers, rodeo fans, and those who hav ...
was developed from the Spanish saddles that were brought by the Spanish
Conquistadors is one of the most famous Portuguese conquerors, having expanded the Portuguese Empire's rule across India, the Persian Gulf, the East Indies, China, and Oceania. Conquistadors (also spelled conquistadores; , also ; ; ; from Spanish language, S ...
when they came to the
Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North America, North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. Along with th ...

Americas
. These saddles were adapted to suit the needs of
vaquero The ''vaquero'' (, pt, vaqueiro ) is a horse-mounted livestock herder of a tradition that has its roots in the Iberian Peninsula The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese Aragonese or Aragones may refer to: * Something related to Aragon, an ...

vaquero
s and
cowboy A cowboy is an animal herder A herder is a pastoral A pastoral lifestyle is that of shepherds herd A herd is a social group of certain animals of the same species, either wildness, wild or Domestication, domestic. The form of ...

cowboy
s of Mexico,
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambigu ...

Texas
and
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
, including the addition of a horn that allowed a
lariat A lasso ( or ), also called lariat, riata, or reata (all from Castilian Spanish, Castilian, la reata 're-tied rope'), is a loop of rope designed as a restraint to be thrown around a target and tightened when pulled. It is a well-known tool of ...

lariat
to be tied or dallied for the purpose of holding
cattle Cattle, taurine cattle, Eurasian cattle, or European cattle (''Bos taurus'' or ''Bos primigenius taurus'') are large domestication, domesticated Cloven hoof, cloven-hooved herbivores. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae ...

cattle
and other livestock.


Types

In the
Western world The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and state (polity), states, depending on the context, most often consisting of the majority of Europe, Northern America, and Australasia.
there are two basic types of saddles used today for
horseback riding Equestrian tour on traditional local breed, Icelandic horses in Skaftafell mountains of Iceland">Skaftafell.html" ;"title="Icelandic horses in Skaftafell">Icelandic horses in Skaftafell mountains of Iceland Equestrianism (from Latin , , , 'h ...

horseback riding
, usually called the
English saddle horse wearing a type of English saddle known as a dressage saddle. English saddles are used to ride horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a domesticated odd-toed ungulate mammal. It belongs to the taxonomic family Equidae and is one ...

English saddle
and the "stock" saddle. The best known stock saddle is the American
western saddle Western saddles are used for western riding and are the saddles used on working horses on cattle ranches throughout the United States, particularly in the west. They are the "cowboy" saddles familiar to movie viewers, rodeo fans, and those who hav ...
, followed by the
Australian stock saddle The Australian Stock Saddle is a saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to by a . The most common type is the equestrian saddle designed for a . However, specialized saddles have been created fo ...

Australian stock saddle
. In Asia and throughout the world, there are numerous saddles of unique designs used by various nationalities and ethnic groups.


English

English saddle horse wearing a type of English saddle known as a dressage saddle. English saddles are used to ride horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a domesticated odd-toed ungulate mammal. It belongs to the taxonomic family Equidae and is one ...

English saddle
s are used for
English riding English riding is a form of equestrianism, horse riding seen throughout the world. There are many variations, but all feature a flat English saddle without the deep seat, high cantle or saddle horn seen on a Western saddle nor the knee pads seen on ...
throughout the world, not just in England or English-speaking countries. They are the saddles used in all of the
Olympic Olympic or Olympics may refer to Sports Events * Olympic Games, international multi-sport event held since 1896 ** Summer Olympic Games ** Winter Olympic Games * Ancient Olympic Games, ancient multi-sport event held in Olympia, Greece between 77 ...
equestrian disciplines. The term English saddle encompasses several different styles of saddle, including those used for
eventing Eventing (also known as three day eventing or horse trials) is an equestrian The word equestrian is a reference to Equestrianism, horseback riding, derived from Latin ' and ', "horse". Horseback riding (or Riding in British English) Notable e ...
,
show jumping Show jumping, also known as "stadium jumping", is a part of a group of English riding equestrianism, equestrian events that also includes dressage, eventing, Show hunter, hunters, and equitation. Jumping classes are commonly seen at horse shows ...

show jumping
and
hunt seat Hunt seat is a style of Jumping position, forward seat equestrianism, riding commonly found in North American horse shows. Along with dressage, it is one of the two classic forms of English riding. The hunt seat is based on the tradition of fox ...

hunt seat
,
dressage Dressage ( or ; a French term, most commonly translated to mean "training") is a form of horse riding performed in exhibition and competition, as well as an art sometimes pursued solely for the sake of mastery. As an equestrian The word equestr ...
,
saddle seat Saddle seat is a style of horse riding Equestrian tour on traditional local breed, Icelandic horses in Skaftafell mountains of Iceland">Skaftafell.html" ;"title="Icelandic horses in Skaftafell">Icelandic horses in Skaftafell mountains of I ...
,
horse racing Horse racing is an equestrian The word equestrian is a reference to Equestrianism, horseback riding, derived from Latin ' and ', "horse". Horseback riding (or Riding in British English) Notable examples of this are: *List of equestrian spo ...

horse racing
, horse surfing and
polo Polo is a horseback ball game, a traditional field sports, field sport and one of the world's oldest known team sports. The game is played by two opposing teams with the objective of score (game), scoring using a long-handled wooden mallet to ...

polo
. The major distinguishing feature of an English saddle is its flatter appearance, the lack of a horn, and the self-padding design of the ''panels'': a pair of pads attached to the underside of the seat and filled with wool, foam, or air. However, the length and angle of the flaps, the depth of the seat and height of the cantle all play a role in the use for which a particular saddle is intended. The "tree" that underlies the saddle is usually one of the defining features of saddle quality. Traditionally, the tree of an
English saddle horse wearing a type of English saddle known as a dressage saddle. English saddles are used to ride horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a domesticated odd-toed ungulate mammal. It belongs to the taxonomic family Equidae and is one ...

English saddle
is built of laminated layers of high quality wood reinforced with spring steel along its length, with a riveted gullet plate. These trees are semi-adjustable and are considered "spring trees". They have some give, but a minimum amount of flexibility. More recently, saddle manufacturers are using various materials to replace wood and create a synthetic molded tree (some with the integrated spring steel and gullet plate, some without). Synthetic materials vary widely in quality.
Polyurethane Polyurethane (often abbreviated PUR and PU) referes to a class of polymers composed of organic chemistry, organic units joined by carbamate (urethane) links. In contrast to other common polymers such as polyethylene and polystyrene, polyurethane ...

Polyurethane
trees are often very well-made, but some cheap saddles are made with
fiberglass Fiberglass (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American Englis ...
trees of limited durability. Synthetic trees are often lighter, more durable, and easier to customize. Some designs are intended to be more flexible and move with the horse. Several companies offer flexible trees or adjustable gullets that allow the same saddle to be used on different sizes of horses.


Stock

Western saddle Western saddles are used for western riding and are the saddles used on working horses on cattle ranches throughout the United States, particularly in the west. They are the "cowboy" saddles familiar to movie viewers, rodeo fans, and those who hav ...
s are saddles originally designed to be used on horses on working
cattle Cattle, taurine cattle, Eurasian cattle, or European cattle (''Bos taurus'' or ''Bos primigenius taurus'') are large domestication, domesticated Cloven hoof, cloven-hooved herbivores. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae ...

cattle
ranch A ranch (from es, rancho) is an area of landscape, land, including various structures, given primarily to ranching, the practice of raising grazing livestock such as cattle and sheep. It is a subtype of a farm. These terms are most often appl ...
es in the United States. Used today in a wide variety of
western riding Western riding is considered a style of Equestrianism, horse riding which has evolved from the ranching and welfare traditions which were brought to the Americans by the Spanish Conquistadors, as well as both equipment and riding style which evolv ...

western riding
activities, they are the "cowboy saddles" familiar to movie viewers, rodeo fans, and those who have gone on tourist trail rides. The Western saddle has no padding of its own, and must be used with a saddle blanket or pad in order to provide a comfortable fit for the horse. It also has sturdier
stirrups A stirrup is a light frame or ring that holds the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a professional other load, fastened to an animal's back by a girth. The most common type is the equestria ...
and uses a
cinch Cinch may refer to: *A cinch, (alternate spelling sinch) a type of saddle girth (tack) *A Mountaineering equipment#Belay devices, belay device for sport climbing *RCA connector, which is sometimes known as a CINCH/AV connector *Cinch (card game), ...
rather than a
girth Girth may refer to: ;Mathematics * Girth (functional analysis), the length of the shortest centrally symmetric simple closed curve on the unit sphere of a Banach space * Girth (geometry), the perimeter of a parallel projection of a shape * Girth (g ...
. Its most distinctive feature is the horn on the front of the saddle, originally used to dally a
lariat A lasso ( or ), also called lariat, riata, or reata (all from Castilian Spanish, Castilian, la reata 're-tied rope'), is a loop of rope designed as a restraint to be thrown around a target and tightened when pulled. It is a well-known tool of ...

lariat
when roping cattle. Other nations such as Australia and
Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country located mostly in the southern half of South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...

Argentina
have stock saddles that usually do not have a horn, but have other features commonly seen in a western saddle, including a deep seat, high cantle, and heavier leather. The tree of a western saddle is the most critical component, defining the size and shape of the finished product. The tree determines both the width and length of the saddle as it sits on the back of the horse, as well as the length of the seat for the rider, width of the swells (pommel), height of cantle, and, usually, shape of the horn. Traditional trees were made of wood or wood laminate covered with rawhide and this style is still manufactured today, though modern synthetic materials are also used. Leather is stretched and molded around the tree, with minimal padding between the tree and the exterior leather, usually a bit of relatively thin padding on the seat, and a sheepskin cover on the underside of the skirts to prevent chafing and rubbing on the horse. Though a western saddle is often considerably heavier than an English saddle, the tree is designed to spread out the weight of the rider and any equipment the rider may be carrying so that there are fewer pounds per square inch on the horse's back and, when properly fitted, few if any pressure points. Thus, the design, in spite of its weight, can be used for many hours with relatively little discomfort to a properly conditioned horse and rider.


Military

British Universal Pattern
military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or pa ...

military
saddles were used by the mounted forces from Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 60 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of . South Africa has three capital citie ...

South Africa
. The ''Steel Arch Universal Pattern Mark I'' was issued in 1891. This was found to irritate riders and in 1893 it was discontinued in favour of the ''Mark II''. In 1898, the ''Mark III'' appeared, which had the addition of a V-shaped arrangement of strap billets on the sideboards for the attachment of the girth. This girthing system could be moved forward or back to obtain an optimum fit on a wide range of horses. From 1902 the ''Universal Military Saddle'' was manufactured with a fixed tree, broad panels to spread the load, and initially a front arch in three sizes. The advantage of this saddle was its lightness, ease of repair and comfort for horse and rider. From 1912 the saddle was built on an adjustable tree and consequently only one size was needed. Its advantage over the fixed tree 1902 pattern was its ability to maintain a better fit on the horse's back as the horse gained or lost weight. This saddle was made using traditional methods and featured a seat blocked from sole leather, which maintained its shape well. Military saddles were fitted with metal staples and dees to carry a
sword A sword is an edged, bladed weapon intended for manual cutting or thrusting. Its blade, longer than a knife A knife (plural knives; from Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Ge ...

sword
, spare horse shoes and other equipment. In the US, the
McClellan saddle The McClellan saddle was a riding saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a professional other load, fastened to an animal's back by a girth. The most common type is the equestrian saddle designed for a horse The horse (''Equus ...
was introduced in the 1850s by for use by the
United States Cavalry The United States Cavalry, or U.S. Cavalry, was the designation of the mounted force of the United States Army by an act of United States Congress, Congress on 3 August 1861.Price (1883) p. 103, 104 This act converted the U.S. Army's two regi ...
, and the core design was used continuously, with some improvements, until the 1940s. Today, the McClellan saddle continues to be used by ceremonial mounted units in the U.S. Army. The basic design that inspired McClellan saw use by military units in several other nations, including
Rhodesia Rhodesia (, ), officially from 1970 the Republic of Rhodesia, was an unrecognised state in Southern Africa Southern Africa is the south South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is p ...

Rhodesia
and Mexico, and even to a degree by the British in the
Boer War The Second Boer War ( af, Tweede Vryheidsoorlog, lit. "Second Freedom War", 11 October 189931 May 1902), also known as the Boer War, the Anglo–Boer War, or the South African War, was a conflict fought between the British Empire and the two B ...
. Military saddles are still produced and are now used in exhibitions, parades and other events.


Asian

Saddles in Asia date to the time of the
Scythians The Scythians (from grc, Σκύθης , ) or Scyths, also known as Saka and Sakae ( ; egy, 𓋴𓎝𓎡𓈉 The ancient Egyptian Hill-country or "Foreign land" hieroglyph (𓈉) is a member of the sky, earth, and water hieroglyphs. A ...
and
Cimmerians The Cimmerians (also Kimmerians; Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...
. Modern Asian saddles can be divided into two groups: those from
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sov ...

Central Asia
, which have a prominent horn and leather covering, and those from East Asia, which have a high pommel and cantle. Central Asian saddles are noted for their wide seats and high horns. The saddle has a base of wood with a thin leather covering that frequently has a
lacquer Lacquer is a type of hard and potentially shiny coating A coating is a covering that is applied to the surface of an object, usually referred to as the substrate Substrate may refer to: Physical layers *Substrate (biology), the natural e ...

lacquer
finish. Central Asian saddles have no pad and must be ridden with a saddle blanket. The horn comes in particular good use during the rough horseback sport of buskashi, played throughout Central Asia, which involves two teams of riders wrestling over a
decapitated Medusa.html"_;"title="Perseus_using_the_severed_head_of_Medusa">Perseus_using_the_severed_head_of_Medusa_to_turn_King_Polydectes_Petrifaction_in_mythology_and_fiction.html" ;"title="Medusa_to_turn_King_Polydectes.html" ;"title="Medusa.html" ;" ...
goat's carcass. Saddles from East Asia differ from Central Asian saddles by their high pommel and cantle and lack of a horn. East Asian saddles can be divided into several types that are associated with certain nationalities and ethnic groups. Saddles used by the
Han Chinese The Han Chinese (), or the Han people (), is an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal direction The four cardinal directions, or cardinal points, are the directions north North is one of the four ...
are noted by their use of inlay work for ornamentation.
Tibet Tibet (; ; ) is a region in East Asia covering much of the Tibetan Plateau spanning about . It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpa people, Monpa, Tamang people, Tamang, Qia ...

Tibet
an saddles typically employ iron covers inlaid with precious metals on the pommel and cantle and universally come with padding. Mongolian saddles are similar to the Tibetan style except that they are typically smaller and the seat has a high ridge. Saddles from ethnic minority groups in China's southwest, such as in
Sichuan Sichuan (; , ; alternatively romanized as Szechuan or Szechwan) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admini ...

Sichuan
and
Yunnan Yunnan () is a landlocked Provinces of China, province in Southwest China, the southwest of the People's Republic of China. The province spans approximately and has a population of 48.3 million (as of 2018). The capital of the province is Ku ...

Yunnan
provinces, have colorful lacquer work over a leather covering.


Japanese

Japanese saddles are classified as Chinese-style () or Japanese-style (). In the
Nara period The of the history of Japan The first human inhabitants of the Japanese archipelago The Japanese archipelago (Japanese: 日本列島, ''Nihon rettō'') is a group of 6,852 islands that form the country of Japan , image_flag ...
the Chinese style was adopted. Gradually the Japanese changed the saddle to suit their needs, and in the
Heian period The is the last division of classical History of Japan, Japanese history, running from 794 to 1185. It followed the Nara period, beginning when the 50th emperor, Emperor Kanmu, moved from the capital of Japan to Heian-kyō (modern Kyoto). It i ...
, the saddle typically associated with the
samurai were the hereditary military nobility and officer caste of History of Japan#Medieval Japan (1185–1573/1600), medieval and Edo period, early-modern Japan from the late 12th century to their abolition in 1876. They were the well-paid retainer ...

samurai
class was developed. These saddles, known as ''kura'', were lacquered as protection from the weather. Early samurai warfare was conducted primarily on horseback and the ''kura'' provided a rugged, stable, comfortable platform for shooting arrows, but it was not well suited for speed or distance. In the
Edo period The or is the period between 1603 and 1867 in the history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a c ...
horses were no longer needed for warfare and Japanese saddles became quite elaborate and were decorated with mother of pearl inlays, gold leaf, and designs in colored lacquer.''Handbook to life in medieval and early modern Japan'', William E. Deal, Oxford University Press US, 2007 P.155


Other

*
Sidesaddle Sidesaddle riding is a form of equestrianism that uses a type of saddle which allows a rider (usually female) to sit aside rather than astride an equine. Sitting aside dates back to antiquity and developed in Europe Europe is a continent ...

Sidesaddle
, designed originally as a woman's saddle that allowed a rider in a skirt to stay on and control a horse. Sidesaddle riding is still seen today in
horse show A horse show is a judged exhibition of s and . Many different and disciplines hold competitions worldwide, from local to the international levels. Most horse shows run from one to three days, sometimes longer for major, all-breed events or nati ...
s,
fox hunting Fox hunting is an activity involving the tracking, chase and, if caught, the killing of a fox, traditionally a red fox The red fox (''Vulpes vulpes'') is the largest of the true foxes and one of the most widely distributed members of the ...

fox hunting
, parades and other exhibitions. * Trick (or stunt) riding saddles are similar to western saddles and have a tall metal horn, low front and back, reinforced hand holds and extended double rigging for a wide back girth. *
Endurance riding Endurance riding is an equestrian The word equestrian is a reference to Equestrianism, horseback riding, derived from Latin ' and ', "horse". Horseback riding (or Riding in British English) Notable examples of this are: *List of equestrian spor ...

Endurance riding
saddle, a saddle designed to be comfortable to the horse with broad panels but lightweight design, as well as comfortable for the rider over long hours of riding over challenging terrain. * Police saddle, similar to an English saddle in general design, but with a tree that provides greater security to the rider and distributes a rider's weight over a greater area so that the horse is comfortable with a rider on its back for long hours. *
McClellan saddle The McClellan saddle was a riding saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a professional other load, fastened to an animal's back by a girth. The most common type is the equestrian saddle designed for a horse The horse (''Equus ...
, a specific American
cavalry Historically, cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldier A soldier is a person who is a member of a professional army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via O ...

cavalry
model that entered service just before the
Civil War A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine publis ...
with the
United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geologic time frames) and consists ma ...
. It was designed with an English-type tree, but with a higher pommel and cantle. Also, the area upon which the rider sits was divided into two sections with a gap between the two panels. *
Pack saddle A pack saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to by a . The most common type is the equestrian saddle designed for a . However, specialized saddles have been created for en, s and other animals. ...
, similar to a cavalry saddle in the simplicity of its construction, but intended solely for the support of heavy bags or other objects being carried by the horse. * Double seat saddles have two pairs of stirrups and two deep padded seats for use when double-banking or riding double with a child behind an adult rider. The western variety has one horn on the front of the saddle. * Treeless saddle, available in both Western and English designs, but not built upon a solid saddle tree, intended to be flexible and comfortable on a variety of horses, but also not always able to provide the weight support of a solid tree. The use of an appropriate saddle pad is essential for treeless saddles. * A flexible saddle uses a traditional tree, but the panels are not permanently attached to the finished saddle. These saddles use flexible panels (the part that sits along the horse's back) that are moveable and adjustable to provide a custom fit for the horse and allow for changes of placement as the horse's body develops. * Bareback, Bareback pad, usually a simple pad in the shape of an English-style saddle pad, made of cordura nylon or leather, padded with fleece, wool or synthetic foam, equipped with a girth. It is used as an alternative to bareback riding to provide padding for both horse and rider and to help keep the rider's clothing a bit cleaner. Depending on materials, bareback pads offer a bit more grip to the rider's seat and legs. However, though some bareback pads come with handles and even stirrups, without being attached to a saddle tree, these appendages are unsafe and pads with them should be avoided. In some cases, the addition of stirrups without a supporting tree place pressure on the horse's spinous processes, potentially causing damage.


Fitting

A saddle, regardless of type, must fit both horse and rider. Saddle fitting is an art and in ideal circumstances is performed by a professional saddlemaker or saddle fitter. Custom-made saddles designed for an individual horse and rider will fit the best, but are also the most expensive. However, many manufactured saddles provide a decent fit if properly selected, and some minor adjustments can be made.


Horse

The debate about the definition of a fitting saddle is still controversial; however, there is a general rule for fitting that no damage should occur to the horse's skin and no injury should be presented to any muscular or neural tissues beneath the saddle. Width of the saddle is the primary means by which a saddle is measured and fitted to a horse, though length of tree and proper balance must also be considered. The gullet of a saddle must clear the withers of the horse, but yet must not be so narrow as to pinch the horse's back. The tree must be positioned so that the tree points (English) or bars (Western) do not interfere with the movement of the horse's shoulder. The seat of the saddle must be positioned so that the rider, when riding correctly, is placed over the horse's center of balance. The bars of the saddle must not be so long that they place pressure beyond the last rib of the horse. A too-short tree alone does not usually create a problem, as shorter trees are most often on saddles made for children, though a short tree with an unbalanced adult rider may create abnormal pressure points. While a horse's back can be measured for size and shape, the saddle must be tried on the individual animal to assure proper fit. Saddle blankets or pads can provide assistance to correct minor fit problems, but no amount of padding can compensate for a poor-fitting saddle. The common problems associated with saddle fitting problems are: bridging, ill-fitting headplates and incorrect stuffing of the panels. One saddle simply cannot fit all animals. Nor will a saddle fit even the same horse forever without adjustments. As a horse advances in conditioning, age, and training, the back muscles and even the underlying skeletal structures change to some degree. Thus, particularly with English saddles, a saddle fitter needs to make periodic adjustments. Western saddles are more difficult to adjust, though use of shims and padding can compensate for some changes. A lower pressure per square inch of surface area is a bit more forgiving. In some cases, a horse will physically develop to a degree that a different saddle may have to be purchased.


Rider

Method of fitting riders varies tremendously between designs. Length of the seat is the most common method by which saddles are fitted, though the length and placement of the flaps or fenders of the saddle also influence a person's leg position and thus the way an individual sits. While a too long or too short seat will cause considerable discomfort, and even interfere with the security of the rider on the horse, width is also a factor. Any well-fitting saddle should be wide enough to support the rider's seat bones, without being so wide as to cause discomfort. While saddles are not usually marketed by seat width, designs do vary, and the only way a rider can determine the proper fit of a saddle is to sit on one. Balance is also a critical factor. A properly balanced saddle places the rider over the horse's center of balance for the equestrianism, equestrian discipline involved. A poor-fitting saddle often leaves a rider feeling that they are sliding backwards and constantly attempting to move "uphill." Less often, a poor-fitting saddle shifts the rider too far forward and creates a sensation of being pushed onto the horse's neck.
Stirrup A stirrup is a light frame or ring that holds the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to an animal's back by a girth Girth may refer to: ;Mathematics * Girth ( ...

Stirrup
fit varies greatly between disciplines, from the very short stirrup of the
horse racing Horse racing is an equestrian The word equestrian is a reference to Equestrianism, horseback riding, derived from Latin ' and ', "horse". Horseback riding (or Riding in British English) Notable examples of this are: *List of equestrian spo ...

horse racing
jockey to the long stirrup of the
dressage Dressage ( or ; a French term, most commonly translated to mean "training") is a form of horse riding performed in exhibition and competition, as well as an art sometimes pursued solely for the sake of mastery. As an equestrian The word equestr ...
or reining competitor. However, in all cases, the stirrup leather must be properly placed so that the rider remains in balance over the saddle and is not thrown ahead or behind the motion of the horse when putting weight in the stirrups.


Care

All saddles need to be kept clean and dry. They need to be stored under cover, away from weather and dust. Ideally they should be stored in an area where they are kept at a slightly cool but consistent temperature, though the practical need to keep saddles near horses may make temperature-controlled storage difficult. Saddles also need to be kept away from a direct heat source, such as a furnace duct or heater, as excess heat, especially driven by a fan, will dry out the leather. For the same reason, if leather gets wet, it must be allowed to dry naturally, away from a direct heat source. A properly cared-for saddle can last for many decades, even with regular use. Cleaning is an important part of caring for tack. Tack that is not cleaned will start to build up sweat and dirt, which will cause uncomfortable rubbing on the horse. Sweat and dirt also tend to cause cracking in leather, which may result in breaking. This not only decreases the value of the saddle, but can be very dangerous if critical equipment, such as a stirrup leather, breaks mid-ride. Proper care and conditioning of the saddle will not only increase its useful life, but will also help to retain its value. A saddle should be cleaned regularly if it used for work. It is usually easiest to clean a saddle when placed on a moveable saddle rack. Ideally, a rider should quickly wipe down the saddle after every ride with a slightly damp, but not wet, sponge or cloth, in order to remove any dirt and sweat. Once a week, or after every 5–7 rides, a more thorough cleaning should be performed. Saddles are cleaned using saddle soap, followed by a conditioning (moisturizing) product that will restore the natural oils back into the leather. Saddle soap is used with only a minimal amount of water and suds or lather kept low, as getting the leather too wet may lead to a number of problems. In a dry climate, wet leather may dehydrate and crack, particularly if subjected to repeated wet-dry stresses. In a humid climate, excess water for cleaning creates an environment for rot and mold. Once a saddle is clean, a conditioner is used to restore moisture removed by the cleaning process. While glycerine-based saddle soaps have conditioning properties, it is usually important to remove most soap residue before conditioning to prevent product buildup on the leather. Saddles kept in storage also benefit from occasional conditioning to restore natural oils. While conditioning a saddle is an important element of saddle care, and critical in dry climates, over-oiling may rot jute or other natural fiber stitching, particularly in humid climates. Neatsfoot oil is one traditional conditioner, and products containing beeswax are popular in some areas, but there are also many other commercial blends of conditioning products available. Oil products tend to darken leather from its natural color. Sometimes this is desirable and sometimes not, depending on the desired shade of the leather. Strap parts of the saddle, such as the stirrup leathers, billet (tack), billets (on an English saddle) and latigo (on a western saddle) also need conditioning, but it varies by climate. In a dry climate, failure to oil straps may result in cracking and weakening of the leather, and they can snap or break. In a more humid climate, too much oil may weaken the leather. Properly conditioned leather is neither brittle nor floppy in texture and flexibility. Saddles made of synthetic materials can be cleaned using water and a mild cleaner and do not require conditioning. They will tolerate being washed with water without risk of drying out or damaging the material. While synthetics to date will not last as long as a well-cared for leather saddle, they withstand lack of cleaning and care as well as exposure to rain and dampness quite well. Before a
horse show A horse show is a judged exhibition of s and . Many different and disciplines hold competitions worldwide, from local to the international levels. Most horse shows run from one to three days, sometimes longer for major, all-breed events or nati ...
or other competition, the rider should take extra care to clean the saddle and polish all metal parts, including the D-rings, stirrups, stirrup bars and nailheads on an English saddle; and the buckles, dees, and ornamental silver on a Western saddle.


See also

* Bridle * Domestication of the horse * Equestrianism * Horse tack * Horses in warfare * Howdah *
Stirrup A stirrup is a light frame or ring that holds the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle The saddle is a supportive structure for a rider of an animal, fastened to an animal's back by a girth Girth may refer to: ;Mathematics * Girth ( ...

Stirrup


Vehicular

* Bicycle saddle * Motorcycle seat, Motorcycle and moped saddle


Citations


General sources

* Bennett, Deb (1998) ''Conquerors: The Roots of New World Horsemanship''. Amigo Publications Inc.; 1st edition. * McBane, Susan. ''The Essential Book of Horse Tack and Equipment''. David & Charles. Devon, England. Copyright 2002.


External links


Clayton study on treeless saddles



"What are the individual parts of a saddle"
- Horseycounsel {{Authority control Saddles,