Health & Medical sports & Exercise

Saddles - The Individual Parts That Make Them Up

Saddles are the seat for the rider that sits on the horses back. As with any horse riding equipment it is absolutely vital that the saddle fits correctly. An ill fitting saddle will cause many problems, not only physically for the horse but will also affect the way the horse moves and often how the horse behaves. Ill fitting saddles contribute towards creating unsafe riding situations as horses will try to evade the pain caused by them.

Saddles are a main point of contact between rider and horse when giving aids to the horse. Due to this it can greatly assist or hinder the riding experience depending on the fit, suitability and comfort for both horse and rider.

Parts of a horse saddle
From beginner to professional it is important to know the parts of the equestrian saddle and understand the terminology used when talking about them. Even a small amount of knowledge can help, for example learning how to mount and dismount or even when performing advanced dressage movements.

The Pommel The highest point of most English saddles, it sits above the horses withers.

The Seat The part of the saddle where the rider sits. It is the lowest point of the saddle creating a lower, more secure centre of gravity.

The Cantle The raised rear point of the saddle. The height of this raise depends on the style of saddle.

Saddle Flaps The primary flap of leather that the riders leg sits against. It covers the billets (and girth buckles, depending on the saddle).

Knee Rolls The raised part of the saddle that sits in front of/under the riders knee. They vary greatly in size and shape depending on the style of saddle such as leather saddle.

Skirt Small flap of leather, attached to the pommel that covers the T-bar where the stirrup leathers are attached to the saddle.

Stirrup Leathers and Stirrups The leather straps that hang down either side of the saddle with stirrups hanging from them. They are attached to the saddle by the T-bars under the skirt. The riders foot sits in the stirrups, resting on them on the balls of the riders feet for safety.

Billets On the inside of the saddle flaps are 3 straps of leather that hang down. These are used for girth attachment. Usually the first and third straps are used as these are separately attached to the saddle. If one was to snap the other would remain attached. By using the first and third it also spreads the pressure of attachment over a wider area.

Girth Not part of the saddle, but attached to opposing sides of the saddle using the billets, holding the saddle on the horses back.

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