Having to shorten a trail ride because you just can’t be on the saddle any longer stinks. Before I found the right saddle, I was shorting rides because my body was aching or I had to go get supplies! Choosing the best saddle for trail riding creates comfort for the rider and the horse and extends riding time.
Why is Finding the Right Saddle Important?
The best saddle for trail riding should fulfill your travel needs while fitting you and your horse comfortably. The time spent enjoying your ride rather than thinking of all the aches and pains creates a bond between you and your horse that will allow you to grow closer. You should take time to think about what you want in a saddle to ensure that the focus of your ride is your horse.
Factors to Consider
Different styles of saddles have different benefits, so knowing which quality is most important to you will help you narrow down your choices. The University of Missouri Department of Animal Science says that riders should supplement personal preference with knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of saddles. Their helpful guide outlines the differences in saddles, as you can see below:
- Western – Security
Security is the main feature of western saddles due to the thick leather and padding. They also tend to be more durable and versatile than other types of saddles which is great for people looking to serve a variety of customers or a family with multiple riders. A downfall of these saddles is that they are heavier and riders may have a hard time moving them, particularly if they are novice riders.
- Hunt Seat – Maneuverability
Hunt seat saddles are the lightest and that makes them easily maneuverable. This allows you to feel the horse’s movement and communicate easily with them, creating a higher level of bond between the horse and the rider. Due to the smaller size, these saddles make long rides less comfortable and are better for experienced riders.
- Dressage – Communication
Deeper and wider than hunt seat saddles, dressage saddles allow for greater physical contact with the horse. If you enjoy feeling like there is nothing between you and your horse, then consider these saddles for trail riding. A word of warning, their lack of padding means you will need strong legs for riding distance and these saddles should not be used for novice riders.
According to Horse and Rider, you should check the feel, strength, and finish of the leather on a saddle.
- The Feel – Leather should feel smooth and supple. Feeling spongy or dry and visible cracking are signs of poor-quality leather
- The Strength – There should be no wrinkles. Leather that appears to have an open or coarse grain indicates it is from an animals belly, which is less durable than leather from the animal’s sides and backs
- The Finish – The edges should all have sharp edge removed, abe slicked down, and sealed with a coating
When searching for the best saddle for trail riding, think about what you bring with you when you trail ride. Various saddles will provide options for packs or rings for hooking in gear. There is nothing I like better than bringing a picnic on a ride and remember, if you are riding for a long time, be sure to bring some snacks and water with you!
The ‘tree’ of a saddle is basically the skeleton and helps determines the comfort of the horse. Some modern saddles have trees that are made of flexible materials that you can adjust from horse to horse. Tucker Saddlery recommends looking at the bar angles, the gullet, the saddle placement, and the rock of the tree when looking for the best saddle for trail riding.
Top 5 Best Saddle for Trail Riding
AceRugs All Natural Cowhide Western Leather Horse Saddle Comfy SEAT Pleasure Trail Barrel Racing Hand Tooled Premium Saddle TACK Set Bridle Breast Collar
The AceRugs western leather horse saddle measures 12-18 inches in the seat and weighs about 26 pounds.
- 100% premium leather
- Beautiful hand carved floral and basketweave tooling
- Well-padded seat
- Numerous ties
- Does not fit high withered horses
The Barrel Racing western horse saddle measures 15-16 inches in the seat and weighs about 30 pounds.
- Nylon Reinforcement on stirrups
- Free matching headstall breast collar
- Heavy to move around
- Drum-dried leather
- Padded suede seat
- Basket weaved leather
- Fiberglass tree
- Dramatic curve in saddle
- Bit not included
The AceRugs Western pleasure trail saddle measures 15-18 inches in the seat and weighs about 18 pounds.
- Free headstall, reins and breast collar
- Silver corner plates
- D-rings for accessories
- Made of synthetic material
- Cinches not included
- Brittle tree form
The King Series Synthetic Trail Saddle measures 20 inches in the seat and weighs about 18 pounds.
- Suede seat
- Rawhide covered bars
- Made of synthetic materials
- Does not hold up to heavy riding
So What is the Best Saddle for Trail Riding?
Out of the options given, the AceRugs All Natural Cowhide Western Leather Horse Saddle Comfy SEAT Pleasure Trail Barrel Racing Hand Tooled Premium Saddle TACK Set Bridle Breast Collar is the best saddle if you want a comfortable trail riding experience. The premium leather will only get better with age and the hand-crafted designs add an element of style that will help you stand out among riders. Also, the amount of ties available on the saddle allows for multiple bags to be added on so you never have to worry about leaving any trail riding essential behind.