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How To... Saddle A Horse - Page 1 of 3
This article covers how to saddle a horse with a Western saddle that has a front cinch, a back cinch, and a breast collar. Please be sure to see a few common sense safety precautions at the bottom of this page.
Clean Your Horse, Put The Saddle Pad On
Begin with a clean, dry, horse. All dirt and dust should be off the horse with particular attention given to the areas the saddle, saddle pad or blankets, cinches, and breast collar will cover. The horse should be properly tied with a halter and lead rope, held by an assistant, or ground tied.
Put the saddle pad (or blankets) on the horse. Place it slightly farther forward than where it should be when you are finished saddling. By placing the saddle pad a little too far forward on purpose, you will accomplish two things:
- You allow room for the pad and saddle to slide back a bit like they naturally want to during saddling without them ending up too far back.
- You avoid the need to grab the saddle pad (before and/or after the saddle has been placed on it) and pull it forward to get everything into proper position. This can be heavy and awkward to do and also pulls against the growth of the horse's hair, rubbing it the wrong way.
Get Everything Out Of The Way
You will need to get the front cinch, back cinch, breast collar, and stirrup out of the way so that when you lift the saddle onto the back of the horse these things don't wind up underneath the saddle.
In our photo, the rider is going to place the saddle onto the horse from the horse's left side. He has laid the front cinch, back cinch, and breast collar onto the seat of the saddle to keep them out of the way. Since the right stirrup tends to easily slide off the saddle seat, he has hooked it over the saddle horn.
Lift The Saddle Onto The Horse
Lift the saddle and place it onto the back of the horse. Do this as gently and with as much control as possible so you don't thump the saddle down hard onto the horse's back. Setting the saddle down gently will remind the horse that being saddled is a routine, comfortable activity, which will encourage the horse to stand quietly during this and future saddlings.
Setting the saddle down gently will also help make sure the cinches, breast collar, and stirrup don't fall off the saddle seat and saddle horn. If any of those things do slide off, they could wind up underneath the saddle and you might have to start all over. They could also spook the horse.
While saddling a horse, a person can easily be injured. It is common sense to take a few, simple precautions to avoid injury.
- If it is fly season, consider applying fly spray to the horse. If the horse is fighting flies you could be stepped on or smacked by the horse's head. Even a horse swishing its tail can swing its tail into your face or eyes.
- Leave the halter and lead rope on your horse while saddling, then put the bridle on when you are done or ready to ride. If the horse is trained to ground tie (stand without moving while untied) that's fine. If not, leave the horse properly tied up with the halter and lead rope while saddling.
- When saddling, always snug up the front cinch first. When unsaddling, always loosen the front cinch last. The front cinch is the main item that keeps the saddle secure and upright on the horse. If, for example, during saddling, you were to buckle the breast collar or back cinch first, the saddle could slip underneath the horse and cause a serious wreck for the horse, equipment, and any people or property nearby.
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