I'm an adult amateur rider. I ride at a lesson barn and ride a different horse almost every week. I'm so enthusiastic about riding, so I go to the tack shop all the time. I have bought saddle pads, grooming tools, and riding clothes. Every time I'm there though, I look at the saddles and wonder about buying a saddle of my own. Should I buy a saddle if I don't own a horse of my own yet?
Dear Saddle Shopper,
I think many people who ride can relate to how you feel. It seems like it would almost be a right of passage to own your own tack. This isn't really a yes or no type question though. There are a few factors to consider.
The first being, would you be allowed to use your own saddle? Saddle fit is important and if you ride a variety of horses—horses that are different shapes and size—your saddle may not fit, so you may not be able to use it on all the horses you ride.
If you have been frequenting the tack shop, you probably have noticed that some saddles come with adjustable trees, meaning, you can change the width by using a changeable gullet system. Basically, the tree is adjustable, so you can put different widths in the adjust the saddle fit on different horses.
A saddle with an adjustable tree is great if you own a horse and he is out of shape or underweight. That way you can change the gullet as your horse gains weight and muscle.
The problem with the adjustable tree is that it isn't a super quick easy thing to do. In other words, it wouldn't be realistic to think that you could go to the barn. Find out what horse you are riding and adjust your saddle width to fit.
If you really want to buy your own saddle, just be prepared that if it doesn't fit your school horses, you will have a saddle and not be able to use it.
Minor adjustments in saddle fit can be made with different saddle pads and half pads. But again, it isn't ideal to have to do that.
I think if you want your own saddle, you should discuss it with your trainer before you buy one. They may be able to give you a recommendation of the type of saddle that would work best for you and tell you what tree width would fit the majority of the horses you ride. Then, hopefully, you can use your own saddle most of the time.
If you are considering leasing a horse or buying one in the immediate future, I would hold off on buying a saddle. That way, when you have a horse that you are going to be riding regularly, you can purchase a saddle to fit that horse.
As always, asking for your instructor's advice is a great idea. They know you and the horses you ride best. That way, if you do want to buy a saddle of your own, they can help you find the right saddle that is comfortable for both you and the horses you ride!
Happy Saddle Shopping,