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Measuring A Saddle - How To Guide

a horse with a measured saddle fitted

Selecting the correct saddle seat size is fundamental for rider comfort and horse health and comfort.

A saddle that does not suit the rider or horse can lead to discomfort and performance issues. This guide provides detailed instructions on measuring various types of saddles, including English and Western styles, with a special focus on English saddle seat sizes, ensuring you understand the differences and how they impact fit.

Additionally, understanding the correct size saddle for both the rider and the horse is important for a comfortable and safe riding experience. This guide covers the essentials of determining the right saddle size, including stock saddle and western saddle measurements, helping you and your horse achieve a perfect fit.


The Basics of Saddle Measurements


Types of Saddles


Saddles come in different designs, each tailored for specific equestrian activities. English saddles, known for their compact and streamlined saddle design, are used in dressage, jumping, and pleasure riding. In contrast, Western saddles, recognized by their substantial build and decorative elements, support rodeo events, reining and extensive trail rides.


Measurement Needs


Key measurements for any saddle include the saddle seat size, gullet width, and the flap's length and width. Each saddle type, from stock saddles to racing designs, will fit differently based on its intended use and saddle tree structure.


Tools and Equipment Needed for Measuring a Saddle


Essential Tools


Accurate saddle measurement necessitates:

  • A flexible tape measure

  • A straight ruler

  • A specialized saddle sizer for precise gullet measurements

These instruments ensure that measurements like the saddle seat size and saddle tree width are taken correctly.


Step-by-Step Guide to Measuring Saddle Seat Size


Measuring the Seat


The saddle seat size is important for ensuring the rider's comfort. To measure it:

  1. Position the saddle securely.

  2. Extend the tape measure from the nail head at the front of the pommel to the saddle's back edge at the center of the cantle.

  3. Note the measurement in inches or cm. Saddle seat sizes generally range from 12 inches for young riders to 18 inches for adults.


Image source:


How to Measure the Gullet Size of a Saddle


Why Gullet Size Matters


The width of the gullet should accommodate the horse's withers comfortably, affecting how the saddle fits the horse's back.


Measuring the Gullet


  1. Flip the saddle to access its underside.

  2. Place the tape measure across the gullet for width measurement between the saddle panels.

  3. Use a saddle sizer to ensure the gullet measurement aligns with the horse's size, ranging from narrow to extra-wide.


Measuring Saddle Flap Length and Width


Flap Dimensions


The flap's length and width impact the rider’s leg position and stability.

  1. Measure the length from the stirrup bar to the flap's bottom edge.

  2. Measure the flap's width at its broadest point.

  3. Assess these measurements against the rider’s leg length to ensure a fit that promotes optimal knee placement and balance.


Below is informational video on measuring an English saddle.





Final Points


Maintaining the correct saddle measurements enhances riding safety and comfort. Regular measurement checks, ideally by a qualified saddle fitter, are recommended to adjust to changes in the rider's or horse's size. Understanding how to measure a saddle, from the saddle seat size to the flap width, ensures that both the rider and horse perform at their best.

Remember, consulting with a professional saddle fitter can provide additional insights and adjustments tailored specifically for your saddle size needs.

Chris Durkan

Chris is an enthusiastic horse rider and enthusiast and lives with his wife and 2 kids , just outside of Brisbane in QLD. He is a self confessed horse obsessed father, and says he makes too many horse and equestrian gear purchases for his wife and kids, which he says, makes him "qualified" to have an opinion on many of the products he buys. While he jokes he's a poor horse dad, he spends his time between his family, his small horse property, working at a local IT firm, and writing for The Equestrian.

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