Introduction: Saddling a Horse the Western Way

There are two kinds of horse riding: western and British. This is a tutorial for western saddling.

Things you will need:
a horse
horse brush
saddle pad
a saddle
head stall with bit (the head stall I am using is called a hackamore and doesn't have a bit)

While riding a horse bareback can be an exhilirating experience, using a saddle can be very beneficial. Saddling a horse is a good idea if you would like not to fall off.

The headstall is important because it gives you control over the horse. Once your horse is saddled, you can ride in a number of different places and events including rodeos, trail rides, and working on farms.

The first picture below is labeled with parts of the horse that will be useful to know later in the tutorial.

Note: horses and the equipment needed to ride them can be expensive. If you are interested in getting in to riding, I suggest browsing craigslist for supplies.

Step 1: Brush the Horse

This step VERY important! When riding, horses sweat under the saddle. If you don't brush the loose hair off the horse's back, and it gets wet, the horse may shake to remove the hair (and you).

Step 2: Brush the Underside of the Pad

Brush the inside of the saddle pad with your hand to ensure that there are no sharp or hard objects stuck in the fibers. If there are, pick them out. Such objects can be uncomfortable for the horse.

Step 3: Place Pad on Horses Back

Once the pad is free of hard objects, place the pad on the horse's back.

Make sure the dark leather patch is on the front side of the horse and pull it up to the withers (the horses shoulders).

Step 4: Prepare Saddle

To prepare the saddle, make sure the girth strap is attached to the right side of the saddle. Then flip the right stirrup and girth strap over the saddle to get them out of the way. This will make it easier to put the saddle on the horse.

Step 5: Place the Saddle on the Horse

Pick up the saddle while holding the right side straps up, and approach the horse from the left side. Now place the saddle on the horse's back with the horn right above the withers. You can adjust the saddle more once it is on the horse.

Note: Most riders saddle, mount, and dismount from the left side. That's just the way things are.

Step 6: Let the Straps Down

Once the saddle is situated, let the right side stirrup and girth strap down. You can then grab the girth strap and get prepared to strap the saddle on.

Step 7: Tighten the Tie Strap

The next step is to string the tie strap (the thick black strap) through the ring on the girth strap. The strap should go through the back of the ring on the girth strap. (pic 1)

Then pull the strap up, and loop it through the dee ring from the front down (the strap should now be up against the horse). (pic 2)

Loop the tie strap back through the girth ring front back to front again. (pic 3)

Step 8: Tighten the Tie Strap a Little More

To keep the saddle from falling off, string the tie strap through the ring on the girth strap once more. The strap should go through the back of the ring on the girth strap. (pic 1)

Then pull the strap up to tighten the strap around the horse's girth. (pic 2)

The strap should be quite snug around the horse's girth, and the saddle should be even on its back.

Note: horses are pretty tough animals. This tightening does not hurt them. If it did, you'd definitely know it.

Step 9: Secure the Strap

Once the saddle is snug, you need to secure the strap from coming loose.

To secure the strap, loop it around the dee string like you would tie a tie. The end of the tie strap should go through the front of the dee ring and out through the left (pic 2). Then move the tie strap to the right and insert it through the back this time. DO NOT tighten it yet (pic 3).

Take the end of the tie strap and put it through the left-to-right loop you just made. Then pull it down and tighten the "tie" (pic 5).

To get the extra length out of the way, you can loop it back through the ring.

Step 10: Put on the Bridle

This are directions for how to put on a hackamore (which relies on pressure to the nose rather than the mouth). A bridle is the headstall plus the bit.

First, place the reins over the horse's head.

Then, guide the horse's muzzle between the nose band and chains of the head stall (pic 3).

Move the headstall up the horse's head and place the horse's ears in the gap between the crownpiece and the browband (pic 4 & 5).

Then secure the throatlatch on the first notch (6 & 7)

Step 11: Giddy Up!

Congratulations! If you followed these steps, you have successfully saddled a horse western style!

Now all you have to do is mount and ride--but that's an entirely different tutorial.

Good Luck!