What’s the difference between a Western and English saddle?

Those with a passion for horses and horseback riding can easily distinguish between a Western and English saddle.

Each specific saddle is designed for the riding it is meant for. Western saddles are used primarily for barrel racing, reining, and cutting, while English saddles are used primarily for jumping and dressage. While the differences between the two saddles may not be as obvious to the rest of us, telling the difference between the two types is relatively easy when you consider the following points:


Western saddles were originally developed for cowboys who spent long days in them and are much heavier than an English saddle. A Western saddle’s seat was designed to keep a cowboy comfortable during long hours of range riding. Western saddles distribute the rider’s weight and the saddle over a larger portion of the horse’s back, making long rides less tiring and a bit more comfortable for the horse.

With a contoured cantle, fenders, stirrups, and horn, western saddles are constructed of wood covered in either fiberglass, rawhide, or ride. Most are covered in leather, with the seat covered in suede. The underside of the western saddle can be covered in sheepskin, wool, or acrylic. Most western saddles are blinged out with ornate carvings in leather and silver accents.

Western saddles are also available in several specialty models, designed for roping, pleasure, or trail riding or reining. Each specialty western saddle has different features, such as a smaller horn and different balance, depending on the riding it is meant for.


English saddles provide the rider with more contact with a horse’s back. Lighter than a Western saddle, English saddles are constructed on a laminated wooden tree that is steel reinforced or out of synthetic wood. The English saddle is covered with plain leather or a leather look-alike or fabric covering. They are stuffed with foam or a combination of wool and acrylic fibers.

Like the Western saddle, there are different types of English saddles suited to the riding done. The Dressage saddle helps to sit the rider in a more upright position and puts the legs closer to the horse’s sides. Close contact jumping saddles feature a shallower seat with more forward-facing flaps. The General or All-Purpose saddle offers a deeper seat than the contact jumping saddle and flaps between those of the Dressage.

If you are a devotee of Saddleseat Equitation riding, then a Lane Fox saddle is required. This saddle features straight flaps, a flat seat, and no rider knee rolls and is perfect for the Saddleseat classes such as the Morgan, Tennessee Walker, and Saddlebred.

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I work for WideInfo and I love writing on my blog every day with huge new information to help my readers. Fashion is my hobby and eating food is my life. Social Media is my blood to connect my family and friends.
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