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For information on what makes a Western saddle “Western” (as opposed to some other type of saddle), please scroll down beneath the saddles for sale
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What Makes A Western Saddle “Western”?
Saddles for riding horses are typically divided into two large groups: English and Western. This doesn’t adequately categorize all types of saddles, of course, but it’s at least useful to make the distinction that Western saddles are a recognizable type of saddle, uniquely different from other types saddles in the world.
So, what are the characteristics that make a Western saddle, well, Western?
Most modern Western saddles have two distinctive innovations that identify them from other saddles: The saddle horn and the double rigging. These items were originally introduced to saddles thanks to the needs of the working cowboy, but quickly found themselves a permanent home on other types of Western saddles, too.
Saddle horns, perhaps best known as the place a cowboy dallies or ties their rope, are useful for other things, too. They’re handy when mounting or dismounting, and they’re a great place to hang items you want to keep handy.
Horns on a Western saddle can also be held to help keep a rider’s body position exactly where they want it (such as when turning a barrel in barrel racing, sliding off a horse while steer wrestling, riding a cutting horse, or riding up and down steep slopes when trail riding). For all of those unique reasons, saddle horns on Western saddles come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.
Below: A roper dallies around a saddle horn on a Western saddle.
A “double rigged” saddle means it has a front cinch and a back cinch. (Most modern Western saddles come with a place for a back cinch even though some riders don’t use it.) Double riggings provide extra stability to keep a saddle where it should be when it’s used for the same examples we just shared (above), and for other reasons as well.
Below: Notice this barrel racing saddle is double-rigged. It has a front cinch (green arrow) and a back cinch (blue arrow). Also notice the rider is stabilizing herself by keeping her right hand on the saddle horn.
So, whether it’s for the working cowboy or cowgirl or a wide variety of other types of Western riding disciplines, most modern Western saddles offered for sale are true to their roots and are built with a saddle horn and double rigging.