How To Saddle Up Your Horse The Right Way
Proper saddling insures the safety and comfort of both horse and rider. Although there are many different types of saddles, the fundamentals of all proper saddling are the same. Whether you will be riding western or English, the basic components of every saddle include a pad, saddle and girth. The underside of all three should be checked to be certain they are clean and free of any defects before attempting to saddle up.
Tie your horse securely with a lead or cross tie. Curry and brush the underbelly and back of your mount. Approach your horse from the front with the saddle pad, working from the horse's left side. Lay the pad forward of the withers and slide it back into place. It should be positioned to cover the entire wither bone. Always check to be sure the pad is evenly centered on both sides. If using an English saddle, slide the stirrups up so they are not dangling. The right stirrup of a western saddle should be hooked over the horn securely and the girth likewise laid over the seat of the saddle before setting it onto the pad. Never swing a saddle over the back of a mount with the girth or right stirrup dangling. Doing so could not only spook the animal, but could also cause an injury, hitting the horse on the opposite side. Grip the horn of the saddle and gently jiggle it so that it settles into the most natural resting place on your horse's back.
So long as your mount is calm, pass to the opposite side and let the stirrup and girth down. Straighten the girth so that it hangs in line and is not twisted. Check to be sure there are no leather parts of the saddle folded under and that the pad is centered under the saddle. When you return to the horse's left side, hook the stirrup over the horn and proceed to bring the girth up to cinch. If your girth has a sleeve, be certain it is equally centered with no bunching before pulling the cinch up firmly. As some horses learn to hold their breath upon cinching, you may need to recheck the cinching before letting the right stirrup down. Check it again just before you mount the horse to be sure the saddle is snug.