Western Versus English Saddles
While there are many different types of riding the world over, the most basic are English riding, and Western riding. Each of these types of riding means a different type of saddle. There are Western saddles for Western events, and English saddles for English events. The saddles are specialized within each of these distinct styles of riding.
An English saddle is quite a bit smaller and lighter than most Western saddles. You'll find that they have steel stirrups, do not have fenders to protect your legs from the straps, and that they have an elastic cinch. If you are not thoroughly familiar with an English saddle and how it should fit your horse, you should seek out a professionals help. The same can be said for cinching up your English saddle, it needs to be tight enough to hold the saddle in place, and yet the elastic allows your horse to breathe. Also, you need to learn how to ride English so that your straps on the stirrups do not pinch your legs, this is one of the main reason that English boots are so tall.
A Western saddle weighs quite a bit more than English saddle. Not only does it have fenders to protect your legs, but also have leather wrapped or raw hide wrapped stirrups that are quite a bit wider at the foot area than the English steel style. Also, a Western saddle will have something called security. This is what surrounds and helps support the Western saddle tree. It's important that this scurrying on your Western saddle be in good condition. If you notice that it's turning up on the corners, or if you notice that when you sit the leather bulges outward, it's not offering the support it should. Instead, the whole saddle tree is bearing your weight. So make sure if you're going to ride in a Western saddle that it is in good condition and that the leather is heavy enough to support the tree.
Of course, most people are aware, that English saddles don't carry a horn. All Western saddles or most of them anyway due carry a saddle horn. Originally, this was often used for roping events, but in today's world of barrel racing, cutting and reigning, the horn is also used to help the rider stay balanced.
You'll also find other types of saddles. You'll find an Australian saddles that come with or without a horn, and are sort of a cross between the American Western saddle and the English saddle. You'll also find saddles strictly made for endurance, these saddles are extremely light weight, durable, and distribute the weight evenly throughout the horses weight-bearing back muscles.
Within each of the type of saddles, English saddles and Western saddles, you'll also find specialty saddles. You'll find barrel racing saddles, jumping saddles, three-day eventing saddles, dressage saddles, as well is reigning and cutting saddles, as well as Western pleasure saddles. Each of these saddles is modified a bit for the event that they're going to be used for. You'll often find a roping saddle has a lower back then perhaps a barrel saddle, and a three-day eventing saddle will be made very durable, to not only allow the individual to jump, but to also perform close maneuvers with their horse.