Like everything in life that we do more than once having a system in place to complete the task just makes good sense, saddling your horse shouldn’t be any different. If you want to saddle your horse like a pro follow this guide, it’s not only fast but makes the process relatively effortless.
Step One – Don’t Do What Everyone Else Does!
To this day it still amazes me that many people that have been saddling their horses for years still struggle with it. I get it, western saddles are heavy and your horse is so tall! To make things easier, much easier, we need to first talk about how to prepare your saddle to be placed on your horse easily.
You can see in this first pic this is how many people drag their saddle to their
horse, their cinches are dragging on the ground, their latigo is dragging as well. It’s truly a wonder that they even make it to the horse without falling and breaking their necks!
Secondly, even if you had your cinches and latigo stored up why would you go to the near side of your horse to place your saddle only to have to walk around to the off side to lower your cinches and then back around to the near side to cinch up?
Check out pic number two and three, this is how you should have your cinches and latigo secured before even removing your saddle from the saddle rack.
Use Bio – Mechanics and Momentum to Handle Your Saddle
Saddling your horse in an efficient manner begins with the first step of picking the saddle up from the
saddle rack. First you want to grasp the front skirting on the same side as your cinches with your right hand, next reach across the seat and grasp the cantle with your left-hand and in one fluid movement pull the saddle off the rack and allow it to drop to your left hip with the sheep skin facing in towards your body.
So now you have the saddle on your left hip, once you become accustomed to carrying the saddle this way you will notice how much lighter it feels. At this point I can generally carry the saddle with just my left-hand freeing up my right hand to grab my saddle pad. For now though just have your saddle pad handy so you can quickly grab it and put it on your horse just before placing your saddle.
With your saddle pad in place, stand at your horse’s shoulder on the off side, you
should be between your horse and the saddle with the saddle still on your left hip. In one fluid movement, swing the saddle up into place on your horse’s back, the weight of the saddle provides the momentum as you swing and the saddle almost feels weightless, as the stirrups swing over the horses back the saddle comes to rest in perfect position.
And check this out, you’re already on the side you need to be on to drop your cinches, no walking around your horse back and forth! So let your cinches down and proceed to the near side of your horse to prepare to cinch up.
Begin by taking your stirrup and hanging it on your saddle horn. Now you can have easy access to your latigo, simply loosen the tie that secures it so the tail is free, then reach under your horse’s belly and grab your cinch. You now have your cinch in your left-hand pull the tail of your latigo down into the cinch ring (see pics).
Now go back up, and through your saddle’s d-ring, come down once more
through the cinch ring and buckle your cinch once you have the desired tension. Lastly hang the tail of your latigo in the hanger on your saddle (that’s what it’s their for), then reach under the horse again grabbing your flank cinch and buckle it into position. Now lower your stirrup and you’re done!
Yes it’s that easy! This will not only save you time but your horse will thank you too for simplifying the process and using a system that is way less stressful for the horse. If you want to start the interaction with your horse on a bad note just drag your saddle over to your horse and struggle with it while you make multiple attempts to get it in place and see the frustration level go up in your horse before you ever get mounted!
This System Works
I learned this method of saddling many years ago from one of my early mentors who happens to be very successful in the equine industry and I’ve used it ever since for multiple reasons.
For a trainer this way of saddling is a gem. I can have a colt excepting to be saddled in a very short period because this way of handling a saddle allows you to use repetition when presenting the saddle to a colt for the first time without wearing yourself out and with very little stress to the colt as well.
Also, as a trainer I had several horses to saddle every morning and I could get them all saddled and ready for their day in a very short period allowing me more time to actually work horses. If you run a lesson barn or a dude string this method will save valuable time and can add to your bottom line with the time saved. Even when I worked in the film industry this method of saddling proved to very valuable because when you got the call to the set you had to get their quick with the horses ready for action.
Never Stop Learning!
Just because you’ve done something a certain way for a number of years don’t close your mind to new ideas!
Take a little time when your at the barn and try this method of saddling your horse, you just might get over the dread of anticipating having to get your big western saddle up on your horse’s back and you might be able to show your friend an easier way too.
Joe is a lifetime horseman and student of the horse. He spent years as a trainer and as a horsemanship clinician. He is also a real estate professional and a former contractor specializing in residential construction.