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What Size Western Saddle Seat Do I Need?

October 27, 2019 3 min read

Are you ready to get a new saddle but you are stuck asking yourself, “What size western saddle seat do I need”? No problem, we have broken the process of determining the correct saddle size into a few general rules that will guide you to a confident decision on the correct size of saddle seat.

Five General Rules to Follow for Determining What Size Seat You Need

 

  1. One of the most important things that you must know is that Western saddle seat size has everything to do with rider fit and has nothing to do with how the saddle fits the horse.
  2. Fit is a very personal preference. In general, it is usually better to have a saddle just a little too big than a little too small. Remember: a small saddle can cause uncomfortable chafing.
  3. To measure the seat of a western saddle you should measure from the back of the swell at the top of the gullet back to leading edge of the cantle.What Size Western Saddle Seat Do I Need
  4. There should be approximately four inches between your crotch and the fork (or swells). Another way to check correct fit is to see if you can fit three fingers between your thigh and the swell.What Size Western Saddle Seat Do I Need
  5. Your rear should be resting on the base of the cantle; however, your back should not be pressed against the back of the cantle.
  6. Cantle height and angle can be important when trying to make up your mind if you are trying to decide if a certain seat size will fit you.
    • Less than a 4″ cantle – This lets you sit more relaxed with the seat having a more open feel.
    • A 4″ to 5″ cantle – provides better back support and will make you sit toward the middle of the saddle seat; may require you to choose a 1/2″ size larger because it sits you more upright depending on the cantle angle.

    Brands and Styles of Saddles Can Differ When Determining - “What Size Western Saddle Seat Do I Need?”

    1. Many brands will add ½ inch to their seat sizes usually due to thick seat padding. If this is the case, a 16 1/2” Saddle would equal a 16” seat.
    2. Barrel saddles usually take 1” less on the seat size; therefore, if you would normally use a 16” trail saddle, then you would likely need a 15” barrel saddle. This is because barrel saddles have deeper seats that are designed to keep the rider in place during extreme activity.
    3. Ranch saddles usually ride smaller (1/2inch seat size) so the riders do not slide around in the slick seats.
    4. Trail Saddles with High Cantles (5”) make the seat sizes feel smaller. A Trail Saddle with 5” cantle will feel smaller in the seat than one with a 3.5” cantle.

    What Does The Published Seat Size Mean to Me When Determining - “What Size Western Saddle Seat Do I Need?”

    As stated above, western saddles come with a stated seat size. This seat size is simply measurement of the distance from the base of the horn to the top middle of the cantle. 

    The following will give you a very general idea of saddle sizes:

    • Youth: 12 to 13 inches
    • Small adult: 14 inches
    • Average adult: 15 inches
    • Large adult: 16 inches
    • Extra-large adult: 17 inches 
    • Very large or tall – 18 to 20 inches

    If you fit somewhere between sizes, you will probably find that you are able to ride more comfortably in a saddle that’s a little too large for your body, rather than one that’s even a little too tight. So if you’re a little larger than average, you will probably ride better in a 16” western saddle than a 15” seat.  If you are still not sure about which size seat you need when buying a new saddle, the following table will give you an estimate of the correct size seat you need for a Western Saddle:

     

    Rider's Height

    Rider's Weight

    5' - 5'5"

    5'6" - 5'9"

    5'10" +

    100 - 125 lbs

    15"

    15"

    16"

    126 - 145 lbs

    16"

    16"

    16"

    146 - 165 lbs

    16"

    16"

    16"

    166 - 185 lbs

    16"

    16"

    16"

    166 - 195 lbs (Pear Shaped Women)

    17"

    16"

    16"

    196 - 225 lbs

    17"

    17"

    17"

    226 - 250 lbs

    17"

    17"

    17"

    226 - 250 lbs (Pear Shaped Women)

    18"

    17"

    17"

    250+ lbs

    18"

    18"

    18"


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