Introduction: How to Put a Saddle on a Horse

Hi, my name is Paige Burggraff. With my years of riding, barrel racing, and owning horses, I am going to demonstrate how to properly saddle a horse. This is an important skill to know in order for a more enjoyable ride for not only the rider, but also the horse.


  • Brush
  • Saddle pad
  • Saddle with all necessary equipment on it (i.e. cinch)

Step 1: Preparing for Saddling

First, the horse needs to be prepared for saddling. In this step, the rider will brush the horse to get off all of the debris. Horses roll around and get dirty so this step is important. The back and under the belly where the cinch goes are the most important areas to brush out because this is where the saddle and cinch will sit. If there is anything, there that is rubbing the horse or uncomfortable for it, it might act up, also it is just uncomfortable for them.

It is important to know that everything should be done form the left side of the horse from this point on.

Step 2: Putting on the Saddle Pad

Next, put the saddle pad on. It is very important to have a good saddle pad because it provides the cushion for the horses back. The front of the saddle pad should be a little bit past the front of the withers and it should be centered on the horses back.

Step 3: Put the Saddle on and Center It

The next step is to put the saddle on and center it. The front of the saddle should be set a little bit back from the front of the pad but not much. The saddle should be centered on the sides as well, and there should be a portion of the pad exposed behind the saddle.

Step 4: Cinch It Up

After the saddle is placed where it should be, the next step is to cinch it. The cinch needs to be placed right behind the front legs. First, hang the left stirrup on the horn, then grab the cinch underneath the horse’s belly. Run the latigo through the ring on the cinch. Depending on how long the latigo is, this should be done at least twice if not three times. Once it is through the appropriate amount of times, pull it tight, but not all the way. With the leftover latigo, make a cinch knot. This part can get a little tricky.

Tying the cinch knot:

1. Run the end of the latigo down through the left side of the cinch ring

2. Cross it over the cinch

3. Run it up thought the bottom of the right side of the cinch ring

4. Pull down through the middle of the loop that was just created

After the knot is done, the cinch can be tightened all the way. It is very important to tighten the cinch, otherwise the saddle could come loose putting the rider and the horse in danger. The rider should be able to put one index finger between the horse and the cinch up to the first joint in the finger.

Step 5: Fasten the Back Cinch

Next, the rider has to fasten the back cinch. Not all saddles have back cinches so this step is optional. The back cinch has holes and a buckle just like a belt. The rider should fasten it tight enough to fit your hand between the horse and the cinch lying flat. If this seems to bother the horse, just take it off.

Step 6: Make Sure Everything Is Tight

The final step is to make sure everything is tightened and centered. Once the rider has a good once over and makes sure everything is how it is supposed to be, they can flip the stirrup back down and mount up!