General Purpose Saddle
Most hobby owners of horses, or people who ride at riding schools will be familiar with the commonest saddle of them all, the general purpose saddle.
This saddle is suited for elementary stages of almost every discipline. It is possible to jump, do dressage or cross country using this saddle unless you are going to specialise in any particular discipline or enter serious competition.
The saddle flaps of jumping saddles are more forward cut than those of the general purpose saddle which enables the rider to keep his legs close to the saddle when riding with shorter stirrups. This saddle is recommended for riders who wish to ride bigger fences at competition level.
The dressage saddle has longer and straighter flaps and is designed for schooling horses on the flat. A rider's legs are held closer to the horse's body as the straighter cut saddle allows for stirrups to be worn longer. Longer girth straps are also used to help the rider keep his legs in closer contact.
Horse racing on the flat requires a saddle that is crouched over rather than sat on. Racing saddles are flat, and are fitted with very short stirrup leathers. Saddles used for racing are very light - starting from as little as 325g, and are available in a range of different weights. Saddles can be brightly coloured to match the owner's racing colours.
Extra long sweat flaps, no knee or thigh rolls and a flatter seat distinguish the Polo Saddle. In Polo the horse travels fast, and the rider have to manovre to hit the ball so the saddle is designed not to restrict the movement or either horse or rider.
The Western Saddle
The Western Saddle is comfortable and secure for long distance riding. The high front prevents the rider from being thrown forward. The horn allows a lasso to be attached for working purposes.