When looking at western saddles, people can get overwhelmed with options. Trail, endurance, roper, show, reining, cutting, shooting, barrel racing, ranch, training. 7/8, 3/4, full. Semi-Quarter Horse, Full Quarter Horse…
1) Does it fit the horse?
Most important. Too many people buy a saddle because they love the look of it or the feel of it when they try sitting on it in the store. MISTAKE. Fit the horse first. There are too many ways the saddle needs to fit the horse that just grabbing on because you like it will 99% of the time lead to heart break. If you have a normal sized horse (15ish hands quarter horseish type of horse) most likely a western saddle with semi-quarter horse tree will come close to fitting BUT you should talk to people around you. If you can, get someone who knows about saddles and horses to help you determine what general size will fit. There are others things to keep in mind like where the girth should sit (how the rigging it set up) but this is something you should differ to someone who know about it. Here is a good rigging primer:
Try on saddles around you. And if not, take a hanger mold of your horse’s back and take it to the store. Below is a good guide to fitting a western saddle.
2) Does it fit you?
Don’t discount this. If it fits the horse then see how it fits your butt. Too tight it’ll be uncomfortable, too lose also uncomfortable. Sit in it. Ride in it. Take your time and sit for a long time. Take a look at how your stirrups are set up. Some saddles push your feet forward some back, some just right. Also to keep in mind…accessories. Do you need/want a horn? Do you need/want latigos? How about a rear cinch? So many options it’s near impossible to recommend anything. I will recommend something anyway:
Circle Y is a great company that make good quality saddles. The flex tree technology is great for the horse’s back. This specific saddle, looks good and will last. The rounded skirt means it’ll fit most horses and the rigging included means it’ll do most anything you want. If you want to buy me a gift, this is it: