Introduction: Saddling a Western Horse
In this intractable I will explain to you how to saddle a horse the western way. The components included will be a saddle pad, a saddle, a bridle, leg wraps, and bell boots.
Step 1: Placing the Saddle Pad
The saddle pad goes on the horse's back underneath the saddle. This is to ensure that the saddle does not rub sores on the horse's back and to help it fit comfortably. On the saddle pad there is a front and a back (as labeled in the picture). In the front of the saddle pad there is a hole that goes over the withers of the horse (withers labeled). To place the saddle pad on the horse gently place it so that the hole goes over the withers and one side of the saddle pad is on each side of the horse's back. This is the first step in saddling a western horse. **Please note that the horse must be tied up in order for this process to occur, but we will not go over that in this instructable.
Step 2: Putting on the Saddle
Again, we will use the withers of the horse as a reference point for saddling the horse. If you cannot remember where the withers were, please refer to the picture in the previous step. The saddle horn will be placed over the hole in the saddle pad and over the withers so that the horn is pointing up in the air and there is one side of the saddle on each side of the horse. In order to do this gently lift the saddle into the air and over the horses back. place it on the horse's back so that the saddle horn is directly over the hole in the saddle pad and over the withers and is pointing up in the air. There should be a stirrup on each side of the horse's body and the saddle should be sitting on the horse like it is in the picture.
Step 3: Cinching Up the Saddle
In this step we will use a part of the saddle called the girth and the girth strap. The girth is the part of the saddle that goes underneath the horse's belly and holds the saddle in place. This along with the withers ensures that the saddle will not move. The girth should be hanging down on the right side of the horse at this point. You will reach underneath the horse's belly and wrap it around it's belly. The girth strap will be hanging on the left side of the horse and will be made of either leather or nylon. you will thread the girth strap through the loop on the girth so that it comes out towards you when you pull it through. you will then put it back through the metal loop that is connected to the saddle and that the girth strap is attached to so that it is going towards the horse when it is pulled through. You will then put it back through the loop on the girth so that the girth is coming back towards you. Then put it back through the top loop, but instead of pulling it back to the girth pull it to the right side like pictured. Then lay it over the girth strap and push it back through the metal loop attached to the saddle on the right like the third picture. This will make it look almost like a tie. At the point you have made a loop out of the leather or nylon strap. The end of the strap will be pushed down through the loop towards the ground and you will pull it tight like in the 4th picture. This is how the saddle stays on the horse.
Step 4: Putting on the Bridle
The bridle is probably the most complicated and important part of the saddling process. This is how you have control of the horse. This bit goes in the horses mouth and the reins are the steering mechanisms of the bridle. To put the bridle on the horse first place your arm in between the horses ears so that your hand can touch the horse's forehead. Hold the top of the bridle in your hand that is between the horse's ears so that the bit is down underneath the horse's chin. With your other hand insert your index finger and thumb into each corner of the horse's mouth to encourage him/her to open their mouth. When the horse opens their mouth simultaneously pull the bridle up so that the bit goes into the horse's mouth, then pull the top of the bridle up and over the horses ears so that the top of the bridle is behind the ears and the browband is over the forehead of the horse in front go the ears. The reins are then placed around the neck, so that when sitting in the saddle you can reach down and hold on to them in order to steer the horse.
Step 5: Leg Wraps and Bell Boots
I am not going to explain how to put these on, but you will often see them on performance horses such as sorters, reiners or barrel horses. These are used to protect the horses legs and hoofs, and to reduce strain. They are an important component of performance horse tack, but not necessary in basic riding. Therefor it is not crucial to know how to use them as a beginner rider, but may become something that is needed as a rider progresses.