Western Saddles

Western Saddles

Looking for information on Western Saddles? This article provides easy to understand highlights of the parts of a Western Saddle and their function sorted alphabetically. The bullet points below each item provides a high level summary pertaining to that item.

Back Housing

The rear section of the saddle behind the cantle and above the skirt that covers the exposed portion of the saddle tree bars

Billet Straps

Straps that attach to the rigging dee ring at the top and to the cinch ring at the bottom
Billet straps have holes along the length to allow for loosening or tightening of the cinch
Note: The cinch may be attached to either billet straps or latigo straps

Cantle

The raised rear portion of the saddle seat
The Cantle is much more pronounced on a Western Saddle than an English Saddle
Provides security and comfort for the rider

Cinch

A long, wide strap that goes around the girth of the horse to hold the saddle in place
Cinch ring (at the end of the cinch) may be attached to either a latigo strap or a billet strap
Latigo straps and billet straps are attached to the saddle with rigging dee rings

Concho

A decorative disk, often made of silver where saddle strings (long narrow straps-usually made of leather) may be attached

Fender

Long pieces of leather that hangs down on both sides of the saddle under the seat jockey
Fenders are designed to protect the rider’s leg from the horse’s sweat

Front Rigging Dee

“D” shaped ring towards the front of the saddle used to attach the latigo or billet straps

Gullet

The tunnel under the pommel above the horses withers.
Ensures there will be no pressure from the saddle or rider on the horse’s spine

Horn

The raised part above the pommel used to secure a lariat

Hobble Strap

A narrow Strap that wraps around the stirrup strap

Latigo

A long, wide strap that attaches to the cinch ring
The cinch ring is attached to the cinch that goes around the girth of the horse
The loose end of the latigo is place in the tie strap holder (also known as a latigo holder or latigo keeper)

Leather Rigging Guard

An additional layer of leather that runs along the edge of the saddle skirt and under the rigging dee rings
Offers protection for the saddle skirt

Pommel

The arched portion in the front of the saddle that provides clearance for the horse’s wither

Rear Rigging Dee

“D” shaped ring towards the back of the saddle used to attach the billet straps

Rigging

The hardware and strap girthing system that holds the saddle on the horse
Western Saddles can have either single or double rigging
The front cinch goes around the horses girth behind the horse’s front legs
Back cinch goes around the widest part of the horse’s barrel

Saddle Strings

Saddle strings are long narrow pieces of leather that hang from the seat jockey and rear housing through conchos
Saddle strings are used to tie gear such as saddlebags and lariats to the saddle.

Seat

The lowest part of the top of the saddle where the rider sits

Seat Jockey

The section of leather that extends beyond the outer edges of the seat that covers the exposed sections of the saddle tree bars
The seat jockey protects the riders legs from rubbing on the rigging

Skirt

Large, heavy pieces of leather that attach to the underside of the saddle tree bars
Protects the horse from the bars and distributes the weight of the rider over a larger surface area

Stirrups

Stirrups are where a rider places their feet while riding
The stirrups provides the rider with more security and control
Stirrups come in different widths and styles to accommodate various riders and tasks

Tie Strap Holder

A piece of leather attached to the front portion of the seat jockey or front jockey that’s used to secure the loose end of the latigo after it’s been laced through the cinch ring

Tread Cover

The covering on the portion of the stirrup where the riders foot rests.
Offers the rider comfort and grip in the stirrup

Tree

The inside frame of the saddle that has traditionally been made of wood
Defines the length and width of the saddle
Some saddle trees are made of less expensive synthetic material that may be lighter and weaker

The design and materials of Western saddles vary greatly. A properly fitted, quality saddle is essential to ensure your satisfaction and a healthy happy horse.