How To Saddle A Horse - Page 3 of 3
This page covers lifting the saddle pad into the gullet, the back cinch, the breast collar, and unsaddling a horse.
Raising The Pad Into The Saddle Gullet
This next step is optional, but practiced by a large number of riders.
Many riders feel that the pressure of the saddle can sometimes push the saddle pad down too tightly over the withers. To remedy this, these riders will slide their hand underneath the saddle pad at the withers then push down with their fingers. This will cause the back of their hand to raise up against the bottom of the saddle pad, lifting it upward into the gullet of the saddle and resulting in a little bit of extra room between the saddle pad and the withers.
This is sometimes done even with saddle pads that are built higher in the front to allow room for the withers. It's a judgement call on the part of the rider.
Tip: You may need to loosen the front cinch a little during this step.
Below: On the left hand side of the photo you can see the rider's hand sliding under the saddle pad.
Buckle The Back Cinch
Buckle the back cinch. The purpose of the back cinch is to keep the back of the saddle from raising up during riding or roping. With this in mind the back cinch, when buckled, should be very close to the horse's belly. A back cinch that is excessively loose and hangs down several inches not only can't do its job, it is a potential safety hazard.
Buckle The Breast Collar
Buckle the breast collar. If your breast collar is the type that has a strap that runs between the front legs, first buckle the left side of the breast collar to the saddle (shown) then run the strap between the front legs and snap it to the front ring on the front cinch.
There are different styles of breast collars. Not all of them are designed to be buckled around the pommel of the saddle as shown in the photo. Some of them are designed to be buckled to the D-ring on the saddle's front rigging, or to special rings on the front of the saddle. Fasten your breast collar to the saddle the way it was designed to be fastened.
When you're finished, step back and look things over. It's a good idea to walk around to the other side of the horse and make sure everything looks good over there, too.
Remember, at this point the front cinch is just snug enough to keep the saddle secure while saddling or while the horse is standing still. It will probably need to be tightened before you're ready to ride.
Unsaddling A Horse
When you are ready to take the saddle off of your horse:
- Unbuckle the back cinch and the breast collar before you undo the front cinch. Since the front cinch is the main thing that keeps the saddle secure and upright on the horse, you don't want to undo it while the the back cinch and/or breast collar are still fastened. If you do, it could allow the saddle to slip underneath the horse and cause a serious wreck for the horse, equipment, and any people or property nearby.
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