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The Ultimate Guide to Australian Saddles: Benefits Differences and Fitting

Australian Saddle Benefits: The Most Comfortable and Secure Seat for Rough Terrain

Australian saddles are not only stylish, but they also offer superior comfort and security on horseback. Many riders who have experienced long hours in traditional English or western saddles have been switching to Australian saddles for the added support and comfort it provides to both horse and rider.

In this article, we will explore the unique features of Australian saddles, discuss what makes them a good choice for riders, and highlight the many benefits of using one.

What Makes an Australian Saddle a Good Choice?

Australian saddles, also known as stock saddles, have been around since the mid-1800s. They are designed to provide a secure and comfortable seat for riders in rugged and challenging conditions.

One of the most notable features of Australian saddles is their forward seat, which encourages a natural and balanced riding position. This position is ideal for endurance riding, cattle work, starting out young horses, and trail riding.

Australian saddles have deep seats and big knee rolls, which offer superior support and stability. The saddle’s high pommel helps to keep the rider in place during rough terrain and sudden stops, while the knee rolls add extra padding and support for the rider’s legs.

This combination of features allows riders to sit deep into the saddle, providing maximum comfort and security. In addition to being comfortable and secure, Australian saddles are also known for being durable and long-lasting.

Made with high-quality materials, these saddles can withstand the toughest of conditions and remain in excellent condition for many years. They are ideal for riders who frequently ride in areas with rough terrain, harsh weather conditions, or for those who simply want a reliable and sturdy saddle that can withstand daily use.

Another reason why Australian saddles are a good choice for riders is that they are versatile. They can be used for a wide range of riding disciplines, from trail riding to dressage.

Many riders use Australian saddles for endurance riding, which is a long-distance race where comfort and durability are crucial. Endurance riders often ride their horses for up to 100 miles in a single race, making the comfort and support of an Australian saddle essential.

Features of Australian Saddles

There are several key features that make Australian saddles stand out from traditional English or western saddles. These include:

  • Deep Seat: The deep seat of an Australian saddle is one of its most notable features. This feature enables the rider to sit deep into the saddle, providing maximum comfort and security.
  • High Pommel: The high pommel of an Australian saddle keeps the rider in place during rough terrain and sudden stops.
  • Big Knee Rolls: The big knee rolls of an Australian saddle add extra padding and support for the rider’s legs, providing enhanced comfort during long rides.
  • Forward Seat: The forward seat position encourages a natural and balanced riding position, allowing riders to maintain their balance and control throughout the ride.
  • Secure and Comfortable Seat: Australian saddles are designed to provide a secure and comfortable seat for riders of all levels. The combination of the deep seat, high pommel, and big knee rolls ensures that riders remain comfortable and stable throughout the ride.


In conclusion, Australian saddles are an excellent choice for riders who want to experience a more comfortable and secure ride on their horses. These saddles offer superior support and stability, thanks to their deep seats, high pommels, and big knee rolls.

They are also durable, versatile, and suitable for a wide range of riding disciplines. If you want to experience a more comfortable and secure ride on your horse, consider investing in an Australian saddle today.

Difference Between An Australian Saddle and an English Saddle: Understanding the Stylistic and Functional Differences

Australian saddles are often compared to English saddles due to their similar appearance. However, there are a number of significant differences between the two saddle types that make a difference in how they perform while riding.

In this section, we’ll highlight the stylistic and functional differences between Australian and English saddles, to help you choose the one that’s best for your preferences and horse.

Stylistic Differences

While both saddle types feature similar marks of craftsmanship and materials used during manufacturing, their design goals and construction set them apart from each other.

  • Forward Leg Position: The foremost characteristic of an Australian saddle is its forward leg position, which allows riders a secure seat and aids in maintaining steadiness. The forward placement of the knee rolls helps maintain the rider’s balance, even in challenging riding conditions. Conversely, English saddles are designed to place the rider’s legs in a horizontal position, with very little or no forward placement.
  • Deep Seat: Both saddles have a distinctive shape; however, Australian saddles tend to offer a more forwardly placed leg position by incorporating a deeper seat than English saddles. This puts the rider at an anchor point for increased stability.
  • High Pommel: The high pommel of an Australian saddle, combined with the deep seat, keeps the rider in the correct riding position, even during sharp turns or sudden stops. English saddles usually have a lower pommel to allow for greater movement around the saddle flap.
  • Significant Knee Block or Poleys: Australian saddles feature “poleys” or “knee blocks” that are aimed at supporting the rider’s leg, positioned just under the knee. These give additional support, making the saddle more secure and balanced, no matter the terrain. English saddles often have a flatter seat with less emphasis on the knee block.
  • Wider Flaps: Australian saddles are famous for their wide flaps that provide a larger contact surface for the rider’s leg along the horse’s side. These wide flaps, similar to English dressage saddles, help to provide a supportive combination of the rider’s stirrup length and position.
  • Swinging Fenders: Instead of stirrup leathers, Australian saddles feature “swinging fenders,” which are directly attached to the saddle’s tree. This design choice eliminates additional layers of leather around the horse’s body, providing a clearer connection between horse and rider.
  • Wider Stirrup Leathers: Similarly, stirrup leathers on an Australian saddle tend to be wider than their English counterparts, offering more support and width for the rider’s foot to rest comfortably.

Functional Differences

The most crucial aspect of saddles is how they function during a ride. A good saddle should provide comfort for both the horse and rider, as well as support and safety throughout the ride.

Let’s explore the functional differences between the Australian and English saddles.

  • Weight-bearing Surface: Australian saddles feature an extended weight-bearing surface, making them suited for withstanding long rides or distance competitions. Compared to the English saddle, which relies solely on the panels to distribute the rider’s weight over the horse’s back, Australian saddles utilize an extra robust set of D rings to aid in the even distribution of weight and stress on the horse’s back.
  • Performance Riding: The deep-seated and forward-positioned design of an Australian saddle is undoubtedly ideal when it comes to working on pastures and wrangling, and they are widely used throughout Australia for cattle work. This feature allows riders to sit deep in the saddle, providing confidence and security in rough riding conditions. Although English saddles focus on a more performance-based approach, the rider’s legs are positioned under the seat, allowing for free movement needed for advanced riding disciplines.
  • Anchored Seat: The laid-back seat on an Australian saddle gives riders more of an anchored seat than English saddles. The rider can distribute their weight and balance as they need, while still being firmly planted in the saddle.

Are Australian Saddles Comfortable?

A rider’s horse-riding experience is heavily influenced by their saddle. A comfortable saddle is paramount for long rides or any riding discipline. Australian saddles are known for their comfort and ability to absorb shock while providing a stable seating position.

  • Forward Leg Position: The forward leg position of an Australian saddle allows more comfort for the rider as it helps maintain balance and weight distribution. Regarding calf placement, this forward leg position allows for proper placement of the inner thighs, knees and ankles. Australian saddles enable a rider’s leg to ride in a natural and upright position, allowing for less exertion on the lower body.
  • Laid-back Seat: Australian saddles are best known for their laid-back seat, setting the rider slightly behind the horse’s withers. This design allows the rider’s weight to be distributed evenly throughout the seat while reducing stress on the equine’s lower back. The laid-back seat offers a more comfortable riding position and absorbs shock well.
  • Weight-bearing Area: The architecture of Australian saddles primarily spreads weight-bearing over a larger area, making the ride more comfortable, especially over long distances. This feature distributes rider weight more evenly, creating far less stress on both you and the horse.


In conclusion, Australian and English saddles are both high-quality options for every rider’s individual preferences. The Australian saddle provides additional support for long-duration rides, ranch work, and times when the rider needs to feel secure. On the other hand, English saddles provide the flexibility and movement required for advanced riding disciplines. The important fact is that the fit of the saddle should match the horse and rider’s body types, and the preference of use.

Both Australian and English saddle types have their benefits and offer riders of all levels a comfortable and reliable horseback riding experience.

How Should an Australian Saddle Fit?

The Importance of Getting the Right Fit

When it comes to equestrian sport, the fit of the saddle is crucial to the rider’s comfort, performance, and the horse’s well-being. A poorly fitting saddle can cause discomfort and serious injury to both rider and horse.

Therefore it is imperative to ensure that the Australian saddle you have fits correctly. In this section, we will discuss the proper fitting of the Australian saddle to guarantee rider comfort, horse health, and safety.

Fitting an Australian Saddle

  • Rider Size: When it comes to finding the right size for an Australian saddle, the rider’s size should be taken into account. If the saddle is too small or too large, then it can cause discomfort and pain for the rider.
  • Saddle Measurements: The saddle measurement should correspond to your individual size. Measure the distance between the two palm trees on the saddles, and match this measurement to your sit bone width. To ensure appropriate saddle size, it’s necessary to evaluate thigh position placement, poleys (thigh rolls), and knee bolster height. These features should be adequate and positioned correctly.
  • Rider Preference: While a rider should not compromise the proper saddle fit, there is also an element of personal preference that must be considered. A rider could choose between a deep or shallow seat, depending on their riding style, and which type will work best for them.
  • Balanced Saddle: The saddle should be balanced, ensuring that the lowest point of the seat is directly over the horse’s gravity center. The saddle should also be centered, with an equal distance between the front and back of the saddle positioned over the horse’s back.
  • Pommel Clearance: The pommel of the saddle should have appropriate clearance from the horse’s withers and should not interfere with the horse’s movement or put any pressure on the horse’s spine.
  • Panel Pressure: The panel pressure should be evenly distributed along the horse’s back, avoiding any pressure points or hot spots that can cause soreness, discomfort, and even injury.
  • Spine Clearance: The saddle should have a free spine clearance from the horse’s spine, with enough room to allow the horse to move freely and comfortably without causing pain.
  • Girth Position: The girth should be placed in the correct position, ensuring that it doesn’t interfere with the shoulder blade’s movement.

What Kind of Pad Do You Use with an Australian Saddle?

When using an Australian saddle, riders need to consider what type of saddle pad is suitable for their horse, taking into account the horse’s shape and individual comfort level during riding, and how the pad can help in weight distribution and shock absorption.

  • Saddle Pads: Australian saddle pads may have set-in contours to fit certain saddle types. The pad’s shape should match the sweat flap and the overall shape of the saddle to ensure proper fit and comfort.
  • Sweat Flap: The sweat flap on the saddle should be taken into consideration when choosing a saddle pad. Traditional saddle pads may not accommodate for the extended sweat flap placement on Australian saddles.
  • Rectangular Pads: A rectangular pad is a basic option for a rider considering the Australian saddle. It serves the purpose of providing better airflow and moisture absorption, but offers minimal shocks and weight absorbing capabilities.
  • No Pressure Equalizer Pad: The No Pressure Equalizer Pad is an excellent option for riders looking for maximum weight and pressure distribution, providing excellent shock absorption and proper airflow management.
  • High-density Felt Pads: these pads are best used in hot climate conditions where air flow is essential and shock absorption is necessary.
  • Heat & Pressure Lines: Regular inspection of the saddle pad will ensure that the horse’s spine is free and clear, avoiding contact with pressure lines and hot spots.


The fit of an Australian saddle is of utmost importance in providing rider comfort, horse safety, and performance. The rider and horse’s anatomies must be considered when selecting an Australian saddle, and care must be taken to ensure the correct fitting of the saddle, overall rider safety, and horse’s well-being.

When selecting a saddle pad, the thickness, airflow, and level of shock absorption are important factors to determine which type of pad will best benefit the horse and rider. Regular maintenance and inspections are necessary to keep the saddle fit and the pads in proper working condition.

A well-fitted Australian saddle and saddle pad combination will provide maximum comfort, safety, performance and will keep both rider and horse happy and healthy.

Do Australian Saddles Have Trees?

Exploring the Types of Saddle Trees

Saddle trees are a critical component of a saddle as they support both the rider and the horse. The saddle tree is responsible for distributing the rider’s weight evenly over the horse’s back, which reduces the risk of discomfort and injury.

In this section, we will discuss the types of saddle trees used in manufacturing Australian saddles.

Types of Saddle Trees

Australian Saddles feature a saddle tree built for durability and weight distribution that corresponds to the saddle’s intended function, rider comfort, and horse’s performance range. This technology plays a significant role in the saddle’s fit, comfort, and longevity.

Australian saddles follow the English-style of saddle tree-making and utilize the same construction techniques. English saddle trees incorporate traditional tree-making materials, such as wood, steel, carbon fiber, polyurethane, and fiberglass, to make the saddle tree.

  • Wooden Tree: Traditional saddle making incorporates wooden trees. The standard practice was to use timber from native pine or laminated beech, which was sturdy and offered flexibility of design.
  • Steel Tree: Steel is a durable and robust material making it ideal to offer support for adequate structure and weight distribution in Australian saddles.
  • Carbon Fiber: Australian saddle manufacturers now use carbon fiber, which is recognized for its durability, strength, and weight-to-strength ratio.
  • Polyurethane Tree: Polyurethane offers a lightweight option with optimal strength and support for the foundational structure of an Australian saddle tree.
  • Fiberglass: Fiberglass is a material that provides flexibility and strength in the use of saddle trees. It is also lightweight, making it a popular choice for Australian horse riding.

Ensuring the saddle tree provides appropriate, even pressure distribution across the horse’s back, is a paramount consideration for saddle fitting. Comfort and performance evaluation should include selecting appraise saddle trees that provide optimal stability for balance, weight distribution, and effective movement.

How Much Does an Australian Saddle Weigh?

The weight of an Australian saddle is an essential factor to consider when purchasing a saddle. The total weight of a saddle can influence the comfort of the horse, the rider, and performance.

Leather is the most popular and traditional material used for the creation of saddles. Australian saddles, mostly composed of leather material, tend to be heavier than synthetic options. The weight range of leather Australian saddles varies between 15 to 30 pounds, depending on the size, style, and materials used.

Synthetic materials offer more flexible manufacturing options, providing lighter but sturdy saddle

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