Whether your child is into western pleasure, barrel racing, roping, or trail riding, good youth saddles should be built to the same quality standards as adult saddles.
To guide our kids toward safe, comfortable rides and peak performance, we want to start them out with dependable saddles tailored to their seat size and height.
Like any other tack, kids saddles vary in price and quality. You’ll probably want to strike some sort of balance between the two. No need to take out a second mortgage to get a top-of-the-line saddle, just to be outgrown in a few years.
On the other hand, if you have several kids who can use the same saddle for years to come, then it might make sense to invest extra money in a premium saddle for your team of young equestrians.
How to Find the Right Size Western Youth Saddle
A saddle’s seat size has little to do with the size of the saddle tree. So the first step is to get a good-fitting horse or pony saddle for the child’s mount, and work from there to find the proper seat size and stirrup lengths.
As you browse the youth saddles for sale through this site, you’ll notice they’ll have different tree sizes, including Full Quarter Horse Bars (Wide), Semi-Quarter Horse Bars (Medium or Regular), or Pony Trees, with the child’s seat sizes ranging from 8” to 14.5” (and larger.)
Every kid has their own shape, length of leg, and weight – and these measurements can change monthly! It’s a tough task to create the perfect child’s saddle size chart or blueprint that you’d bet the farm on. But here goes:
Depending on the weight and build of the young rider, kid’s seat sizes generally range from:
Huge Inventory! Child Seat Sizes from 10 Inch to 14.5 Inch
We feature the best of the best, and that means best saddle prices, craftsmanship, and customer service. All from our online partners and saddle experts at Horse Saddle Shop – Saddles for Young Riders.
Browse their inventory of Used Saddles for young riders. You can often find excellent deals here.
Children’s Buddy Stirrups – Youth Slip-on Stirrups
Sometimes it’s just not feasible to obtain a youth-size saddle. In these cases, another option to help you get a child up and riding is “buddy stirrups.”
These are two “pint-sized” stirrups attached together to loop over the saddle horn of an adult sized saddle. Stirrup buddies hang much shorter than the regular saddle stirrups and can help in certain circumstances.
The unique design of the Weaver Lil’ Dude Slip-on Stirrups pictured here includes a large front panel that helps center the child more squarely in the saddle.
It’s a handy, temporary solution to help children learn to ride, aiding stability and side-to-side balance in the saddle.
Plus they allow the horse to wear his regular fitting saddle instead of one meant for a completely different size horse or pony.
Yet even with this type of helper stirrup, the young rider will still be faced with the problem of an unbalanced seat due to the nature of this “quick fix.”
Ten Tips for Finding the Right Youth Saddles for your Band of Young Riders
- Try to choose a saddle with decent quality leather and stitching. If you are attempting to locate a good bargain, do not fall into the trap of a saddle that is poorly or cheaply made. Keep in mind, you can probably re-sell the saddle once your child outgrows it, but re-sell will not be an option if the saddle is falling to pieces.
- Resist the temptation to purchase a saddle that is too big when trying to allow room for the child to “grow into it.” It’s ok to pick a saddle that allows some room for growth, but don’t go overboard. If the saddle is too large, then you will run into the same problems that the adult saddle presents.
- Check to make sure the saddle is balanced in its seat. This will take some effort on your part since many times a youth saddle might lack proper construction and will not have a balanced seat. Take your time and do some research. Pay special attention to how the stirrups hang on the saddle. They should hang straight below the seat. If they are positioned forward, or behind, then it is not balanced.
- Make sure the stirrups have a wide range of adjustments which will provide flexibility as your child grows.
- It is not unusual for older boys to need a smaller seat size than girls in the same age group. Girls tend to develop more “padding” physically than their male counterparts.
- Double check that the saddle is not too small for your youngster. Just like fitting an adult saddle, there should be some room directly in front of, and directly behind, the rider’s seat. Youth saddles are constructed with varying degrees of seat padding.
- The child’s seat should not touch the cantle when it is sized correctly. Also, different swells can affect how a saddle fits the rider.
- It’s great if your child can sit in the saddle and try it out, either on the horse or on a saddle stand, to make sure all measurements are in proper proportion and the saddle will fit properly.
- Pick the right saddle for the task at hand. If you are looking for a youth show saddle, then it should be stylish and appropriate for the show pen. If you are choosing a trail or working saddle, then comfort and security take priority. Many barrel-racing saddles for kids and adults alike will be designed for a snugger fit. If your child prefers a saddle that makes a statement, then have fun with unlimited choices of colors, materials, and “bling” available in the marketplace.
- Once again, make sure the saddle fits the horse properly. If you’re not comfortable with fitting a western saddle to the horse, it’s a good idea to consult a saddle fitter. That way you’ll know your saddle choice is a good one.
Good Youth Saddles Aid and Encourage the Child’s Riding Abilities
Consider the types of riding the child will do. If you’re not certain, often a good, all-around youth western saddle will fit the bill. Then base your selection on seat size and saddle design that fits your budget.
Bear in mind, two youth riders of the same weight and height but with different builds — especially waist, seat and thigh measurements —may need saddles with different sized seats. Finally, the time comes when children outgrow their youth saddles, as they near or meet an adult’s measurements.
Learning to ride in a saddle that’s too big puts a child at a disadvantage. They are fighting an uphill battle just trying to stay in the saddle. Even with a schoolmaster horse packing a youth rider around a ring, a child in an oversized saddle will find it more difficult to control the horse they are riding, and won’t feel very secure in their seat. An unbalanced child can cause a horse to become tense and create resistance.
A good youth saddle fit supports a child’s riding abilities, setting them up for success, giving them a more comfortable and safer ride.