How To Properly Saddle Your Horse
By Christy Mellington
Saddling your horse for an enjoyable ride can seem like a chore so here's a few tips to make this task a little easier for the both of you.
Begin by catching your horse and tying him securely. (Remember to use a quick release knot, for safety purposes).
Go quietly to his left side with your saddle pad under your left arm and saddle in your right hand, balanced against your hip.
Stand at his left shoulder and turn yourself toward his hips. Now, gently place your saddle pad on his back, slightly farther forward than you want your saddle to be when were done. We will adjust our saddle and pad toward the rear of our horse, in the direction his hair lays, to prevent irritating his back.
Hold your saddle with your right hand on the right side of the cantle (back of the seat), and your left hand on the left side of the front skirt.
Now, swing your saddle, from your hip, gently onto his back. Throwing your saddle in this manner takes all of the work out of it, as the momentum of the swing carries the weight of the saddle for you.
Be sure that your saddle lands softly on the back of your horse. Slide your saddle back into position.
I like to keep all of my rigging neatly tied up on my saddle; this keeps it from dragging on the ground and getting all dirty. It’s also much more professional and makes the job of saddling simpler.
Move to the right side of your horse and let down your cinches.
Return to the left side to cinch your saddle in place. For a proper fit, your front cinch (girth) should be placed 3 to 4 inches behind your horses elbow.
Facing the rear of your horse, reach under him with your left hand and get a hold of your front cinch.
Run your latigo through the ring, and buckle, or tie it snugly. Do your final tightening before you mount up. Since I start a lot of colts, and generally there’s a little hopping around, I prefer to tie my cinch rather than buckle it.
Notice how the cinch and latigo are both vertical, this is how your rigging should lay for a proper saddle fit.
Buckle your rear cinch in the same manner as the front cinch. Allow enough room to fit your hand sideways under the rear cinch. It should neither be really tight, nor loose enough to catch a hind foot.
Now, we’ll attach the breast collar. I lay mine across my saddle when I untack my horse and buckle it to my left stirrup, leaving it attached to the D-ring on the right side. Unbuckle the breast collar from your left stirrup.
Toss it gently over your horses back, and around his chest.
Buckle it to the left D-ring.
Snap it to the D-ring on your front cinch.
Allow enough room between the breast collar and your horse’s shoulder to fit your hand sideways, this will prevent rubbing and chafing, yet be tight enough to serve it’s purpose in holding your saddle in place.
The underside of your horse, with the breast collar and back cinch snapped to the D-rings of your front cinch, should look like this. Take care that nothing is too loose, or hanging too far down.
Make sure that you run the end of your latigo through the keeper.
Finally, our properly saddled horse is ready for a ride! Thank you and happy trails!