Choosing a Western Saddle
If you're going to be riding Western and are new to the horse world, you can choose just about any Western saddle that you find that you can afford, that fits your horse, that fits you and is well made.
While it's nice to be able to purchase brand-new saddles for your new enthusiastic hobby, sometimes it's just not quite financially feasible. This means that you may be choosing a saddle that is not exactly what you want. In other words, instead of purchasing a brand-new saddle of inferior quality, look to a used saddle for your Western riding experience.
It may be difficult at first when you're looking at a saddle to determine exactly what type of Western riding it suited for. Many of them have separate modifications according to the type of sports that the saddles going to be used for. These will include modifications to the horn, the back, the leg position, and even the cinching position.
There are barrel saddles, which are meant to be super comfortable for the horse, lightweight, and keep the rider in the saddle during quick acceleration and turns. It usually fits the rider very tightly from the back to the front, has a long horn, and often has a very high straight up back.
Roping saddles are completely different; they'll have a shorter horn that is sturdily installed into the saddle itself in order to take the weight of the steer. Also, they have a much lower back, which allows the roper to get out of the saddle if needed. It's important to understand that there is not a lot of back support in this type of saddle, but if you're just learning to ride, it will work out fine. Also, if you're considering roping at all, make sure that you get a roping saddle, most of the horns that are installed in other types of Western event saddles are not meant to take the weight of the steer.
You'll then run into reigning saddles, which are a close contact Western saddle. Cutting saddles, that are especially suited for the quick diving movements of the cutting horse, Western pleasure saddles that are pretty and meant to keep the rider's leg in the correct position, and of course, Western Trail saddles.
The world of Western riding is various, and in today's world the saddles can become rather specialized. Remember if you are just starting out that it is nice to choose a competition saddle that will fit your riding discipline, but if you're going to be riding Western, just about any Western saddle will do as long as it fits you and the horse. So make sure that you choose a quality saddle over something that is trendy and fashionable and that it fits you both well.