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the western saddle with diagram
Learn about how the western
saddle parts are made and what each part is for.
of the saddle tree
all the fancy
leather on the saddle is a part called the Tree.
The Tree of the saddle
is what all other parts are built upon.
The tree is what makes your
horse comfortable or not. All saddle makers make their trees a little
different, but the end result is the same. The tree is the part that
must fit the horse.
See our Saddle Fitting Guide
The Tree is usually made of wood and has 4 parts. The Fork, 2 Bars and
The Fork is the very front of the saddle and includes the saddle horn.
The 2 Bars are the pieces that rest along the horses back and
the sides of the saddle.
The cantel is the back of the saddle seat.
The very middle of the Tree
is where the seat will be when everything is finished.
Once these 4 pieces have been attached with nails, screws and
whole tree gets covered in wet rawhide or some sort of strong
synthetic and is allowed to dry into a hard and very strong frame.
Once the Tree frame is ready all other pieces can be put into
These pieces include the rigging, skirt, jockeys, fenders, stirrups and
more. The way these pieces are put together determine what type
of riding the saddle is best suited for. Look to the right for more
about the parts of the saddle
More about saddles
Click to see types of Western saddles
Click to use our Western saddle seat calculator
parts of the saddle explained
all the pieces together.
The saddle rigging
The “rigging” refers to
the dee rings
on both sides
of the western saddle that are used to strap the saddle onto the horse.
Click to read a lot more about Saddle
The skirts have to be attached under the Bars of the Tree. The skirts
are 2 big pieces of heavy leather that are lined with real sheep wool
(the best) Or some sort of synthetic. The skirt is what will sit
directly on the horses back. Reining saddles often have the middle of
the skirt leather cut out. This maximizes the contact the rider has
with the horse. Skirts can also be heavily decorated. In competition it
is important to stand out amongst the other riders, so choose a saddle
with nicely decorated leather.
2 pieces of leather are used to make the jockeys that sit on top of the
skirt. One big piece goes around the seat and covers both sides of the
saddle. The last piece goes around the back of the saddle. The Jockeys
purpose is to cover any remaining pieces of the saddle tree and make
the saddle look good. The jockeys are often attached using fancy silver
or nickel plated conchos. Sometimes leather strings hang from the back
jockey so a rider can tie things to it. The saddle jockeys do not
effect riding in any way so feel free to choose a saddle with jockeys
that appeal to you. If you want to compete, choose a saddle with lots
of hand tooled design on the jockey and metal conchos that shine. It's
important in competition to catch the eye of the judge.
Once the Jockeys are in place the fenders are sewn on. The fenders
purpose is to hold the stirrups and protect the riders legs from dust
and dirt. Fenders come in different shapes and styles and choosing one
over the other is purely a matter of personal taste. However the
fenders should hang straight down, and be turned slightly inward to
make it easier for a rider
to position his or her legs correctly. It is very annoying
for the fender to be hung to far forward. This causes the rider to be
off balance or at the very least constantly fighting to maintain good
leg position. Soft supple fenders are best.
Click to see what type of fenders are available on western
The rider uses stirrups for balance and stability. There are a few
different styles to choose from. What kind of stirrups you get is
purely personal and won't effect the way you ride. Always be sure to
get a saddle with stirrups large enough to fit your boot or shoe size.
Getting a foot stuck in the stirrup at the wrong time can be dangerous.
Click to see what kind of stirrups are available on western
seat of the saddle
This part obviously holds your butt in place. The center of the seat
should be level and when the saddle is on the horses back, the seat
should not appear to be lopsided. A good seat is one that is not to0
built up at the front. Or in other words it should not appear as though
it is going up hill. Seats that are to built up at the front will put
you completely in the wrong riding position. It will look like you are
leaning way to far back. This is not good for you or your horse.
Click to see our Western seat calculator to find the right size seat
The angle and height of the cantel determines whether you will be
sitting very straight up or if you will be sitting leaning back or if
you will be leaning slightly forward. This is purely a personal
preference for riders. If you have an opportunity to sit in a few
saddles you can get a good idea what cantel angles and heights are best
for you. Most saddle makers give cantel height and angle information
when buying saddles off or on line.
Quite simply the cinch is the strap that goes under the horses belly
and attaches to the rigging dee on the other side. This strap and the
long piece of leather called the Latigo is what attach the saddle to
the horse. The latigo is passed down through the cinch and up through
the Dee Ring a couple of times before tying or buckling the saddle in
place. Today most cinches can be buckled instead of tied. This is great
news because lots of people have trouble tying knots let alone trying
the cinch knot. 30 years ago it was uncommon to see a western cinch
with a buckle. Today saddle makers make it much easier for people and
more comfortable for horses. Cotton and mohair cinches are the choice
of most riders because they absorb sweat from the horse and don't
stretch after a couple of uses. Cinches come in various sizes, the
average horse needs a 30 to 34 inch cinch. Really big or round backed
need a 38 inch cinch. Cinches for draft horses can easily be found at
any on line or local tack shops.
Keep your cinches clean and don't let them twist under the horses belly
when saddling up.
cinches are avaliable for western saddles