Have you ever had to tack a western horse up? Do you know how much does a western saddle weigh, exactly? Did you have trouble carrying that big, bulky western saddle? Being an English rider, it certainly is a struggle for me! Western saddles are notoriously heavy and bulky, which is what makes them more comfortable and safe.
Besides being large, what makes western saddles so heavy? And how do they compare to saddles used by other disciplines? I’ll be discussing all of this and more in this article.
Factors that Influence Saddle Weight
Duration of the Ride
A big factor that influences the weight of a western saddle is the length of the rides you intend on taking. So, for riders that intend on taking an hour to two-hour trail rides, a saddle that is comfortable upon mounting might remain comfortable for the duration of the ride.
But, many western riders take day-long or half-day trail rides. A saddle that is comfortable upon mounting might not be comfortable 4 hours down the trail. So, these saddles will need to be specially made with materials that will keep a rider comfortable for long periods of time.
Sometimes, this can require additional materials, which can make a saddle heavier. Sometimes, these materials are even lighter. It all depends on the make and style of the saddle!
Comfort of the Rider
Overall comfort of the rider is also a large influencer in the weight of a western saddle. Western saddles are known for being very safe for the rider. The saddle has lots of structure which helps the rider stay still in the saddle.
Western saddles also have the famous horn at the front to help keep the rider stable in the saddle. But all of this extra material adds weight onto the saddle. Compare the image of a western saddle to that of an English saddle.
English saddles have close to no structure to help the rider stay in place, and they are still heavy! So, then take a western saddle, which has all of the additional leather and other materials to provide structure for the rider, and think how much heavier that saddle would be.
Comfort of the Horse
Another factor that affects the weight of a western saddle is the comfort of the horse. Obviously, horses have weight limits, so saddles can’t be unreasonably heavy. There are many companies that specialize in making western saddles that are specifically designed to be light, to ensure the horse’s comfort.
One of these companies is Circle Y Saddles. They have many western saddles that weigh under 23 pounds! That’s extremely light for western saddles, as many weigh 60 pounds and over.
The last factor that influences the weight of a saddle is the purchaser’s budget. Sometimes specially manufactured saddles that are incredibly light can be expensive. Sometimes all a buyer can afford is an older, more clunky trail saddle.
So, the price will determine how heavy a given rider’s saddle will be. Not all saddles need to be featherlight, but it’s important that your saddle fits your horse and keeps him comfortable.
What Makes Western Saddles So Heavy
Quantity of Material
So, as illustrated earlier, we know that western saddles can be large. This reason may seem obvious, but western saddles can get very heavy because of the quantity of material it takes to make them.
The more materials used, the heavier the saddle will be. So, saddles often have thick leather, sometimes a canvas or suede, and, especially with western saddles, other metal or leather embellishments. The more of these things make up a saddle, the heavier it will be.
Types of Materials
Also, the type of materials will dictate how heavy a saddle is. There are different types and cuts of leather, all of which have different weights. If the saddle does have metal embellishments, what kind of metal are they? All of these things contribute.
Many western riders also use many saddle accessories that can contribute to the overall weight a horse is asked to carry. Think of things like saddlebags, breastplates, stirrup covers, and the like.
While these don’t contribute directly to the weight of the saddle, they are important to keep in mind when determining the max weight that your saddle could be.
Average Weights of Western Saddles Compared to Other Saddles
How Much Does a Western Saddle Weigh?
So, we’ve discussed what contributes to the weight of a saddle, but we haven’t talked about numbers yet. How much does a western saddle weigh? Western saddles can weigh about 60 pounds!
In comparison, a heavy english saddle will weigh about 20 or 25 pounds. Dressage saddles might weigh in closer to 30 or 35 depending on the model. As you can see, western saddles are definitely on the heavier end of the spectrum
Western saddles can be heavy for lots of different reasons: they can be heavy because they are meant to keep a rider comfortable, they can be less heavy to help a horse’s back, they can be heavy because they are made with a certain cut of leather with metal embellishments, and they can be heavy because you have saddle bags strapped to the back of them.
The exact weight of a western saddle depends on what it’s made out of, and how much material it is made out of. The best fit for a horse and rider varies depending on the circumstance. Your horse’s comfort comes first, and as long as you keep that in mind, the right saddle will come around.
I hope this article about how much does a western saddle weigh, helped you better understand the weight of western saddles and what contributes to it. If so, please share this article, and share with us your experiences with heavy western saddles!