Category Archives: Saddles/Saals

How to Rig your Western Saddle

Because there are so many first-time western saddle owners that buy from us, we decided to write a quick and helpful article on…

How to Rig your Western Saddle

Western saddles usually are sold with one long latigo strap and one short latigo strap. The straps are fastened to the front rigging D’s (one on each side). The short strap has holes in, so as to put the buckle through and the long strap gets tied with a Texas T.

Having the correct rigging is both a necessity of having a safe ride and it influences the riding activity you have planned.

Western Saddle Rigging basically has three positions:

  1. Full Rigging:The front cinch is right underneath the pommel behind the elbows, meaning the saddle and rider are right over the horses centre of gravity. This makes full rigging a good choice for saddle-stressing events such as roping or cutting.
  2. 7/8 Rigging:The front cinch is 7/8 of the distance from the cantle to the pommel (the cinch is a little farther back than a full position). This position allows more elbow room for your horse; lack of interference with motion makes this position popular with reiners, trail riders, and barrel racers.
  1. 3/4 Rigging:The front cinch position is 3/4 of the distance from the cantle to the pommel (the cinch a little farther back than a 7/8 position). This creates an even pull on the front and back of the saddle, anchors the saddle better under the rider and prevents sliding. It’s considered ideal for the high-action runs, turn, and stops it’s also preferred by trail riders who ride on a steep terrain.

In addition to the position of the front cinch, you can either have double rigging or single rigging. Single Rigged, means there is a front cinch, but not a back cinch. Most pleasure riders ride single rigged and if you are not going to ride rough on steep hills and have quick turns then single rigged is fine for you. Double Rigged, means there is a front cinch and a back cinch. A back cinch helps anchor a saddle during rigorous riding; ropers need one to keep the cantle down, and trail riders often find it helps keep the saddle from sliding forward while going downhill.

Ways to rig your saddle on your horse. Three types .

Which Rigging’s for You?

  1. Determine the rigging style best suited to your event or riding style.
  2. Consider your horse’s conformation. If you horse has high withers, a full-rigged saddle will tent or slide back, so a saddle rigged at the 7/8 position, or farther back, is better. On the other hand, a mutton-withered horse that’s built downhill needs a full-double rigging to keep the saddle from sliding forward.
  3. Check for quality. Cinch ring hardware should be made of stainless steel, bronze, or brass; stay away from aluminum and chrome plate, which corrode or rust with use. (Quality hardware is a hallmark of well-made rigging and also of a high-grade saddle.) Check the leather?it should be soft and supple, not dry and cracking. Pull hard on the cinch ring to see how firmly it’s attached. Saddles made in Mexico and the Pacific Rim countries are generally of lesser quality than American-made saddles. Reputable manufacturers offer warranties on the rigging.

After you buy your saddle, check the rigging for wear and tear before each ride. If the leather creaks when you pull on it; has cracks, tears, or loose rivets; or doesn’t look “right” for any other reason, take your saddle to a reputable repair shop. You’re only as safe as your rigging is solid.

Evolution of the Western Saddle

History of western riding

Sometimes it feels as if the Cowboy life and life style have always been around. It feels as if it did not have a start and cannot have an end- it is part of human culture and part of the past, present and future world we are living in. But there was a beginning to this rugged and heroic culture and maybe even one day there will be an end.

Where the style began

The first western-style saddles were based on the Spanish vaqueros in the 1800’s (the original cowboys one might call them). The Spanish vaqueros trained horses and herded cattle in Mexico and the American Southwest. These saddles were a combination of two styles of horseback riding: la jineta, which focused on the horse’s freedom of movement, and la estradiota, which focused on rider security and control. These saddles did not have a horn and when the horn came to action, it opened the world of saddles as it is known today, a saddle for a specific function like roping and barrel racing.

When the human race decided for the first time to ride on the horse could not be guessed.

Brahmans were possibly the first “riders,” and there is no uncertainty that the Chinese were the first real “horsemen.” The Chinese were involved in selective breeding and had several different kinds of horses for different jobs, as early as 1,000 years BC

The Hittites over in the Mediterranean were doing their thing with the horse, it seems it was the Hittites who left the first text on the care and rearing of horses (written about 1,600 BC and contains some advice about the training of a horse which is as applicable today as it was then).

Assyrians, some claim, were the first of the eastern Mediterranean cultures to make use of an item resembling a saddle(no stirrup).

The Egyptians also utilised horse as a mean of expanding their empire, about 1,650 BC. But they had no interest in riding the horse but preferred a chariot.

When a saddle is mentioned in the Bible, they are generally considered to have been saddlecloths. The Native Americans of the Great Plains of North America were famous horsemen, and usually rode without saddles. The saddle as we know it today where probably developed either in France during the early Christian era or in the steppe region of Asia. In Europe the saddle came into general use in the Middle

Ages and the exploits of medieval knights would have been difficult without the saddle.

Some claim a tribe called the Sarmatians who lived by the Black Sea first invented the saddle in 365 AD, as well as the metal stirrup and spurs. The Sarmatians were well known for their horsemanship and use of horses in battle. They were a nomadic tribe that worshiped fire and often sacrificed horses to their god.

When looking back it seems like people rode horses for over 1,500 years before they had devised a method for achieving greater stability in the saddle.

Invaders from Central Asia brought the stirrup to Europe, and interestingly the words for stirrup in Old High German, Old Saxon, and Old English are all derived from words for climbing.

Saddles of various types include the packsaddle (to which the load of a pack animal is secured); the camel saddle; the howdah (used by riders of elephants); and the horse saddle. There are two main types of horse saddles, the Hungarian and the Moorish.

The Moorish saddle, was used by cowboys in the United States. The saddle has a horn which is essential in using the lasso and two strong girths, each tightened by a cinch strap. In North America it was believed that a hard seat was better for both the horse and the rider.

The Hungarian saddle, of which the English saddle is an example which has padding, and the stirrup is hung farther forward than on the Moorish saddle.

Historians are aware that America’s story owes something of significance to the “western saddle” and what we term the “western saddle,” Americans of the first half of the nineteenth century generally referred to as the “Spanish saddle.” Mexico is where the western saddle originated and underwent a great deal of its development and the outset of the nineteenth century saddle used by the horsemen of New Mexico, was founded upon a saddletree incorporating nearly all the elements of design by which the western saddle tree is distinguished today.

Some Examples of historic saddles:

Charro, Santa Fe and Texas style saddles.
Top to bottom: Charro, Santa Fe and Texas style saddles
A foto of the first McClellan western saddle. By trailsaddles.
The first McClellan 1857
Model 1913 McClellan Western Saddle. Example of historic saddle
The Model 1913 McClellan
A drawing of an Spanish War Saddle
La Estradiota – Spanish War Saddle
An example of a Muslem Cavalrymen Saddle
La Jineta – Muslem Cavalrymen Saddle

Cordura Saddles

Cordura- Get Your Resistance On

INVISTA’s CORDURA® brand is the fabric you want in the outdoors. Cordura is an extremely durable and tough material, so tough that it was used during the second World War, in military tires. The fabric is designed to be tear resistant, colour retaining, light-weight and most importantly durable. Cordura needs minimum taking care of and will not lose its shape, rot, decay or decolour. Big Horn Cordura saddles makes for a lightweight saddle that is comfortable, functional and though, and will last you years to come.

A foto of a Cordura Western saddle

A Close-up foto of the materia the Cordura saddle is made up of.

A Foto of a brown Cordura Saddle

Close-up of the material the Cordura saddle is made from.

A ‘Bit’ of Training

A ‘BIT’ Terminology

Bit Parts

  • Purchase – This is the part of the bit that is above the mouthpiece. A shot purchase will cause quicker reactions when pulling on the reins.
  • Shank – The part of the bit that is below the mouthpiece, this gives leverage on the mouthpiece. A shorter shank will resort in less control while a longer shank proves to give more control.
  • Cheeks – This refers to the sides of the bit and includes both the purchase and shank.
  • Mouthpiece – The part of the bit that goes in the horse’s mouth.

 Types of mouthpieces

  • Snaffle – Broken in the middle and one of the most common mouthpieces.
  • Three-piece snaffle – Broken in two places, to work on different places on the bars than a regular snaffle.
  • Double twisted wire snaffle – Made up of two small snaffles which are broken off-centre from another.
  • Chain mouthpiece – This does not work on the bars as a snaffle, but on the corners of the mouth.
  • Solid mouthpiece– Any mouthpiece that is not broken
    • Bars – Is what rests on the horse’s bars (gums behind the teeth).
    • Port – This rests on the tongue. There are high, medium and low port bits, the closer the bars are together, the more severe and they are apart, the less severe the mouthpiece.
    • Mullen relief – A forward curve to the mouthpiece gives even pressure across the mouth and causes a smoother reaction from the horse.
    • Swivel mouthpiece – This mouthpiece swivels on the shank allowing independent shank action and gives the mouthpiece a different action than a solid constructed bit.
  • Curb bit – rotation in mouth-down, up on curb chain, pressure on poll.

Some more terminology

  • Curb Chain Pressure – Varies from one bit to another, it sets the timing of the bit, with a loose curb chain being slower and a tight curb chain giving faster timing.
  • Metal used in mouthpieces
  1. Copper – This metal causes a horses’ mouth to salivate which allows the mouth to stay soft and usable to the rider.
  2. Sweet iron – This is intended to rust and actually does have a sweet taste to it as rusting occurs.
  3. Stainless steel – gives a clean, neat look to any mouthpiece.
  • The ‘feel of the bit’ – not only what the horse feels when the rider pulls on the reins; but also what the rider feels.
  • Timing – the amount of time required from the point when the reins are pulled until the bit has done as much it can do.

 Levels of Training for Bits

When choosing a bit it is important to know for what purpose you are buying the bit. Below are the different levels of training with a bit.

Level-1-bit for horses, by Trailsaddles

Level 1 – these bits are designed for use with horses with little or no training; they teach a horse to follow and yield to pressure.

Level 1 Transition bit for horses, by trailsaddles

Level 1 – Transition 1 – These bits are designed to continue lateral flexation and proper head set.

Level 2 bit for horses, by

Level 2 – these bits are designed for use with horses with some basic training but nees to continue lateral flexion, proper head set.

Photo of a Level 2 Transition 2 bit with a white backdrop

Level 2 Transition 2 – this style is the next step up to offer more leverage and advance training

Level 3 bit photo. Made for horses.

Level 3 – this style final cheek in this series is desined for the well-broke performance horse or touch-mouthed older horses where the rider needs more control.

Parts of a Western Saddle

An image illustrating the different parts of a saddle

Be the SQUARE and let everyone know “safety comes first”

Remember to restore worn or broken parts of your saddle to ensure your safety. Checking your saddle regularly will take but a few seconds of your time and could mean the difference between Saddling up with the Long Riders and Saddling down at the Casuals Desk.

  • Saddle check list:
  1. Rigging and adjustments: check your billet straps and girth, they receive more wear than other parts of the saddle and require much attention, for weakening of leather and hardware parts.
  2. Stirrups, stirrup leathers & buckles.
  3. Blanket or pad for sharp objects.
  4. Check your bridle parts: throat strap, curb chain or strap, cheeks, reins, bridle bits, plus all points of attachment.
  • Replace:
  1. Leather that shows signs of wear, stretch, cracking, stiffness or elongation of holes.
  2. Worn lacing, broken or rusted hardware and girth with damaged areas.
  • Wash moisture, sweat and salt from all equipment after each use and allow these to naturally dry.
  • Clean your hardware to prevent rust.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures, both hot and cold.
  • Store equipment in a dry room.

Evolution of the Western Saddle

A foto of the first McClellan western saddle. By trailsaddles.

Cordura Saddles

A Foto of a brown Cordura Saddle

Different Saddle Trees

Saddle Trees

Size and bars

There are a number of different sizes of trees commonly found in saddles. Trees differ in the width of the gullet and bars, the pitch of the bars (Steep to Flat- usually somewhere just above or just below 90 degrees). The tree of a saddle is responsible for shaping the pommel and cantle of the saddle while the actual seat can be manipulated through padding and leather work. A horse with a flat back and widely-sprung ribs will require bars with a flatter field than a saddle made for a narrow horse, where a steeper field to the bars will keep the saddle positioned properly.


Saddle trees size Gullet Width Bars Breed it fits
Regular 5¾” and 6″ 90 degrees
Semi Quarter Horse 6½ inches 90 degrees Fits many horse breeds
Quarter Horse /Full Quarter Horse 6¾ inches, but may be up to 7 inches 90 – 94 degrees


Stock Horse

Quarter Horse

Arabian 6½” – 6¾” Shorter bars Arabian


Haflinger 7½” gullet >94 degrees Haflinger Horse
Draft 8″ gullet >94 degrees Draft Horse

Saddles trees were traditionally made from wood and rawhide with the later combination of fibreglass. One of the major disadvantages of wood trees is that different segments have to be pieced together and causes the saddle to have different stress levels which cannot always be handled in the same way. This causes failure in saddle trees which in turn causes concentrated stress levels on the horse, thus limiting its performance, causes pain and makes it uneasy.

RALDIE saddle trees, manufactured in Tennessee USA, annually sells up to 100,000 saddle trees, making it the number one saddle tree manufacturer in the world. As these trees are sold to saddle makers all over the world, it should say something as every saddle makers name hangs in the balance as the tree is the basis of a good or poor saddle.


The Ralide Tree

The term Ralide refers to both the material and the U.S. trademarked manufacturer of the material. Ralide is a synthetic, polyethylene. The trees are manufactured using a moulding process, which lowers production costs and makes Ralide trees more economical and proves to be durable, flexible, and strong.

Saddle Accessories


A numnah is a type of saddle cloth that is the same shape as the saddle. The cloth is usually heavily padded around the edges and is very thick. It is often made of wool or a similar material and is very thick and absorbent. It makes good cushioning for a saddle. They are often used under Australian pleasure or work saddles, which are a cross between the deep seat of a Western saddle and lightness and more fitted shape of an English saddle.

MODEL: 31-7480 Tough-1 Shawnee Show Pad

Tough-1 Shawnee Show Pad. Buy a snow pad.
A double hand woven saddle blanket with a heavy fleece bottom, made of heavy blended acrylic yarn provides extra comfort for the horse.

MODEL: 31-645 Tough-1 Sierra Square Saddle Pad Matching fleece Bottom

Square Saddle Pad Matching fleece Bottom. Buy a Saddle fleece
Lined with a practical combination of hospital tested fleece, topped with an acrylic blend Sierra blanket and heavy saddle pad felt located in the middle, makes this pad unusual and attractive.

MODEL: 31-7460 Tough-1 Shoshone Saddle Pad

Tough-1 Shoshone Saddle Pad. Buy a Saddle Pad.,
This double hand woven saddle blanket with a heavy fleece bottom, is made of heavy blended acrylic yarn, which provides extra comfort for the horse.

MODEL: 73-8700 Australian Outrider Collection Fleece Pad

Australian Outrider Collection Fleece Pad. Buy a fleece pad.
A breathable, double thick, pile fleece provides an extra soft cushion for the horses back while as well as allowing protection for the saddle. The pad has a Non-slip bottom and is completely washable.


MODEL: 79-4033 Farrier Tool Kit by Farrier Craft

Farrier Tool Kit by Farrier Craft. Buy a Farrier Tool Kit.
This Farrier Hoof Kit includes a – Rasp handle, Hoof rasp, Hoof nipper, Hoof knife and a Shoe puller. It all comes in a durable nylon case that measures 21″ X 28″ / 53.34cm X 71.12cm and for easy storage folds to a mere 18″ X 7″ / 45.72cm X 17.78cm.

 Swarovski Crystal Barrel Racing Headstall

Swarovski Crystal Barrel Racing Headstall to make you both look like real rhinestone cowboys.
Swarovski, one of the most recognised names in the accessory industry, giving its wearer instant glamour and fame. Swarovski crystals have the characteristic that it reflects light in a rainbow of colours and now the beloved one that carries you on its back can shine as well. This Swarovski crystal headstall will make your best friend appear even more beautiful and make you both look like real rhinestone cowboys.

Bou jou eie saal – Build your own saddle

Bou jou eie saal!

Die belangrikste van enige saal is die boom. Gelukkig kan jy ‘n top kwaliteit RALIDE saalboom van ons aanskaf teen ‘n baie redelike prys. Daarna kan ons jou bystaan om leer en ander items aan te skaf – ons voorsien ‘n volledige lys.

Build your own saddle!

Buy an original RALIDE saddle tree from us and get a list of supplies, including leather, you require to build your own saddle for a fraction of the cost of a purchased Western saddle and have a great deal of fun in the process.


A figure containing saddle tree dimensions.

Australian saddles

Australian saddles are built for comfort, with deep seats that is usually strung beneath the leather, with webbing or string. The blocks underneath the pommel and on the back of the saddle flaps, help keep the rider stay secure when riding up and down sharp hills. Some Australian saddles also has a horn, but is typically thinner than a Western saddle horn.

MODEL: As 180 w Australian Outrider Collection Stockman Bush rider Horn Wide Tree

Australian Outrider Saddle. Buy a saddle.
This ride stock saddle, is designed for rugged use under extreme conditions making it perfect for trail or competitive endurance riders. The deep seat keeps the rider secure and forward in the seat, while the handsomely finished leather and durable brass plated hardware gives an added touch of elegance. Comes complete with 4″ fenders, 4 bar irons, over-girth and under-girth.


MODEL: As 181 Australian Outrider Collection Stockman Bush Rider With Horn

Australian Outrider Collection Saddle. Buy an Outrider Saddle.
This comfort ride stock saddle is designed to be used under extreme conditions making it perfect for trail and endurance riders. The deep seat keeps the rider secure and forward in the seat. This saddle comes complete with 4 fenders, 4 Bart irons, an over-girth and an under-girth.


MODEL: 73-8700 Australian Outrider Collection Fleece Pad

Australian Outrider Collection Fleece Pad. Buy a fleece pad.
A breathable, double thick, pile fleece provides an extra soft cushion for the horses back while as well as allowing protection for the saddle. The pad has a Non-slip bottom and is completely washable.

English Saddles


An English saddle is a lightweight, hornless saddle. It features a steel cantle and pommel, a padded leather seat and full side flaps, usually set forward. Most English saddle designs are specifically developed to allow the horse freedom of movement when jumping, running or moving quickly across rugged and broken country side. Webbing, leather and padding materials are based over a solid tree to make an English saddle.

Fittings not included with the purchase of these English saddles.


MODEL: Es 130 Silver Fox All Purpose English Saddle

Silver Fox All Purpose English Saddle. Buy an English Saddle.
A popular forward seat saddle featuring: a deep seat, round cantle, knee roll and a suede padded flap. Fittings are not included.


 MODEL: Es660r Equiroyal Pro All Purpose Saddle

Equiroyal Pro All Purpose Saddle. Buy an All Purpose Saddle
The popular Pro Am is made on a traditional, all purpose flexible saddle tree. This means a more comfortable seat, an improved fit and added security. The deep foam seat makes this an ultimately comfortable saddle.


MODEL: Es640r Equiroyal Newport All Purpose Saddle

Equiroyal Newport All Purpose Saddle. Buy an All Purpose Saddle
An attractive well balanced saddle built on a flexible tree with a cutback head, allowing extra clearance over the wither, making it particularly suitable to fit high withered horses with. The deep seat offers extra rider security and the soft foam seat cushion, makes this easy to clean saddle comfortable.


Saddles 5843 Hunt Seat Saddle

Front and top perspective of an English hunt seat saddle.English Hunt Seat Saddle. By


English All Purpose Saddle

Close-up Photo of an English All Purpose Saddle on a wooden stand.Photo of an English All Purpose Saddle from the side.