"Sittin' Pretty" In The Saddle
English? Western? Aussie? Choosing a saddle is a very individual purchase and you need to try each type of saddle and decide for yourself which saddle serves your purpose best. All three types have their pros and cons. The most important aspect of buying any saddle is to make certain it fits your horse and fits you as well.
Buying the best quality saddle you can afford is a must. Stick with a reputable saddle manufacturer and if you can't afford new then buy used. Study the manufacturers on-line to find out what type of tree their saddles have because that is the most important part of the saddle. It's the back bone of the saddle. If you look at a used saddle make sure the tree isn't broken or twisted. Look at the outer surface of the saddle. Is it all leather? What kind of leather is it? Synthetic saddles may be cheaper and there are some good ones out there; but it is my opinion that leather last longer, holds it value, and is more comfortable to both horse and rider over time. Examine the flocking on the Aussie saddle and the English saddle and look at the fleece on the western. On all horse items I would prefer natural fabics rather than synthetics. Remember natural fibers are the very best to buy for your horse.
If you decide to go with the English saddle and are doing trail riding with no jumping, perhaps you want to try an all purpose instead of a close contact jumping saddle. They are usually more comfortable and more secure. Most of the police forces in the world use all purpose saddles. And, the English style weighs the least of any of the three saddles you have mentioned so it's easy to handle and tack up your horse.
It is too bad but there is not the assortment of sizes in western saddles as there are in English saddles. There are two basic sizes in western; Quarter Horse Bars and semi-Quarter Horse bars. There are some variations of these two sizes with different manufacturers but these are the two basic sizes. The Quarter Horse Bars will fit a wider horse with a flatter withers and the semi- QH bars will fit a horse with a more pronounced wither and a narrower build. Which one is considered average depends on the breed of horse you are most familar with. If you ride stock type horses then your average saddle would have full QH bars and would fit most of the horses you ride. With breeds that have a more pronounced wither the semi-QH bars would be average with those breeds. If you are riding a thoroughbred you may also need a specially built up pad as Thoroughbreds tend to have very high withers. Whatever breed of horse you are riding you want to make certain the pommel or front of the saddle doesn't ride down on the horse's withers with or without the rider being mounted. Make certain the saddle doesn't pinch the horse along the withers and that the saddle doesn't rock or bridge along his back.
Make certain the saddle fits you and your horse and is made with quality workmanship and out of quality material. And my advice is to stay away from saddles made in third world countries. The fit is more important than the kind of saddle you choose.
Many people wind up trading or selling their first saddle anyway because after a riding for a while they discover what they really need and like in a saddle and it may not be what was originally purchased.
......a compilation of advice by Paulette Neutsel