Image: Copyright © Dave Hayward http://www.flickr.com/photos/davehayward/4945343157/
Your saddle is one of the most important pieces of tack you can use on a horse. An improperly fitted saddle can slip, rub your horse, or cause back pain to your horse. Make sure saddle fits well and is placed in the correct location for your horse’s comfort and your safety. When you are saddling your horse it is important to do it slowly and gently not rough and quick. This will keep your horse happy and prevent him from developing bad habits like biting when you are tacking up. Here is how to properly saddle your horse:
1Make sure you select a saddle that properly fits your horse. Check the saddle all over before you ride and tack up. Make sure everything is in its place and no leather is broken or brittle. Also check the saddle pad and cinch fro dirt, briers, or anything else that could rub and irritate your horse.
2Tie your horse up to a sturdy post or tie ring with a well-fitted halter and lead rope. If your horse is trained to use cross ties, this will make tacking up easier.
3Give your horse a quick groom before tacking up. This is not so your horse will look good, it is so the saddle does not rub dirt into the horse and cause discomfort. Pay special attention to the horse’s back and belly where the girth would sit.
4Place the saddle pad or blanket on the horse well in front of his withers. Slide the pad back so the front is resting on the withers. Sliding it back will make the horse’s hair lie flat which is more comfortable for them.
5If you are using a western saddle, flip the cinch and stirrups up onto the seat so they do not bang your horses sides. If you are using english tack, make sure your stirrups are pulled up.
6Stand on your horse’s left side and gently place the saddle on your horse’s back. Make sure it is resting just behind your horse’s withers and that it is center on your horse.
7Walk on the right side of the horse and pull the cinch or girth and stirrup down, then walk back to the left side.
8Reach your arm gently under your horse’s belly and grab the other end of the girth or cinch. slowly pull it up and gently tighten your saddle on. If you are using western tack, you may have to tie a knot instead of buckling it.
9Walk your horse forward a few steps then check the tightness of the saddle. Adjust as needed.
10Right before you get on, check the tightness again then pull down your left stirrup. You are ready to ride.
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