Parts of a Saddle – English and Western


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Parts of a Saddle – English and Western

When you are getting all of your gear for horseback riding, one of the important decisions is what style saddle you will choose.

This will depend on the style of horseback riding you are learning or are familiar with, as there are different saddles for both English and Western riding styles.

Once you have your saddle, it is important that you familiarize yourself with all of the different parts of the saddle.

This will help you to get a head start in your equestrian knowledge and will help once you begin to use the saddle, too! Read on to learn more about the different parts that make up a saddle, both the English and Western saddle style. 

Parts of an English Saddle

The English saddle is known to be smaller and lighter when compared to the western style saddle. It allows for closer contact with the horse and rider. Take a look below for a roundup of the most important parts of an English riding style saddle.

Cantle

The cantle is also known as the saddle’s backrest. It curves upward and is where the lower back of the rider and the saddle meet. There are many different angles, heights, and styles of cantle. Your sport of choice will affect the style of cantle you choose. 

Seat

The seat is the top of the saddle and it is, as the name suggests, the spot on the saddle where the rider actually sits. There are different depths of saddles, which will depend upon the sport you choose. 

Pommel

The pommel on the saddle is the front of the saddle. It should curve upward slightly like the cantle does. It gives your seat forward support. 

Twist

The twist on an English saddle is the section that sits just below the pommel, and it determines how the saddle feels between the legs of the rider. Twists are not one size fits all. Depending upon the preference of the rider, they can choose a narrow, medium, or wide twist.

Knee Roll

On a saddle, the part that is called the knee roll is located at the front of the saddle flap. It is there for comfort— some saddles even have contoured knee rolls to amp up comfort levels and add support! 

Saddle Flap

Saddle flaps are the part of the saddle that lay on each side of the saddle. They can come in a variety of lengths and shapes, so there truly is an option for every preference or individual set of needs.

Skirt

The skirt is a smaller flap on top of the saddle flap to protect the rider’s legs from being pinched or irritated by the saddle straps. 

Stirrup Leather Keeper 

The stirrup leather keeper is a slit or a small loop attached to the saddle flap. This is because the stirrups on an English saddle have to be bought separately and attached, unlike a western saddle. 

Girth

The girth on an English saddle is the strap that goes around the barrel of the horse to keep the saddle in place. It has a soft, padded underside to keep the horse comfortable, too. 

Parts of a Western Saddle

Western riding style saddles are longer and heavier than their English style counterparts. This helps to better distribute the rider’s weight on the horse’s back. Below, we will go over the various important parts of the western riding style saddle. 

Horn

The horn on a western saddle is the knob that sits at the very front of the saddle. Usually, it is used to hold one end of a rope that is roping a cow. 

Pommel

The pommel on the western saddle is, like on the English saddle, the part in front that curves slightly upward. Pommels on western saddles are also called forks or swells sometimes. They are meant to provide a base for the horn. 

Cantle

The cantle is on both the English and western saddle. It is known as the backrest of the saddle, and it curves upwards. The lower back of the rider meets the saddle here. 

Seat

The seat of the saddle is where the rider sits. It is located at the top of the saddle. It can come in a variety of different depths, and a rider can choose the depth of the seat based upon their preferences and the sport they choose. 

Latigo

The latigo is a term for the leather strap on the side of a saddle. It is used to secure the cinch to the horse. On the left, there is also a latigo keeper which is a tab or slip to hold the excess length of the latigo. 

Billet

The billet is located on the right side of the saddle and is used to attach the cinch to the horse’s right side. Western saddles typically have a billet at the front and another one at the rear.

Jockeys

The jockey is the name for the leather covering the seat of a western saddle. This part is sometimes also called the housing of the saddle. Most western saddles have jockeys on the seat and in the back, too. 

Skirt

Both English and western saddles have skirts. The skirt on a western saddle is similar to an English saddle. It is meant to lie under the jockeys and extend down the side of the horse, giving the saddle a rectangular shape. 

Stirrups

The stirrups come with a western saddle, while on an English saddle, they come separately. The rider puts their feet on the stirrups while they are in the saddle and riding their horse.

Stirrup Fender

The stirrup fender holds the stirrups. It hangs from the saddle, and these are considered to be wider than English style stirrup leathers. The wider western style stirrup fenders are thought to be the more comfortable of the two.

Stirrup Hobble

A stirrup hobble is part of the stirrup fender. It is a strap that is situated at the bottom of the fender and functions to hold the stirrup in place.

Conchos and Saddle Strings

Conchos are more decorative elements on western style saddles. Usually, they are located at the rear of the saddle and are used for holding equipment, packs, and gear.

Cinch

The cinch is another term that is often used interchangeably with girth. A cinch is on a western style saddle, while a girth is essentially the same thing, but on an English style saddle.

Back Cinch Strap

The back cinch strap is the second strap that will go around the barrel of your horse, behind the cinch. It stabilizes the saddle and keeps it from moving or sliding around. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the front part of the saddle called?

The front part of a horse’s saddle is known as the pommel. This is the part that will curve slightly upward to support a rider’s front. This part of the saddle curves higher than the English saddle. Pommels are also referred to as forks or swells on Western saddles, and they serve to provide a base for the horn, too. 

What are the parts of an English saddle?

There are two kinds of horseback riding style, and these are English and western. Each type of riding also has its own style of clothing for the rider and gear for the horse, including the saddles that need to be used. The English saddle, for instance, functions differently than the western saddle. It has many parts, as does the western saddle. These parts include the pommel at the front of the saddle and the seat of the saddle, where the rider rests. The rear part of the English saddle is referred to as the cantle. There are also the flaps that go over the flanks of the horse.

What are parts of a western saddle?

The western saddle is used for the western riding style, rather than the English style, which of course takes the English saddle. The western saddle differs from the English saddle to better equip the rider for western riding. It is comprised of many parts that make up the saddle. These parts include the saddle horn, pommel, seat rise, seat, cantle, back housing, skirt, billet strap, fender, back cinch, cinch hobble, stirrup, hobble strap, front cinch, latigo, gullet, and strap holder. These are the 17 main parts of a western saddle. 

What are the leather straps on a saddle called?

A saddle is made up of many parts. These are around 17 main parts of the saddle, all with their own special function to contribute to the overall effectiveness of the piece. One of these parts is the girth, or the leather straps that you may see around the horse’s belly. It serves to keep the saddle in place and helps avoid the saddle sliding around or the rider falling off! The girth passes under the horse’s barrel and is then attached on both sides to the saddle with two or three other leather straps that are known as billets.