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There are a vast variety of horse saddles depending on the type of riding one wishes to do. The four main types of saddles are the English, Western, Military, and Asian. Of course these are very broad categories. The English saddles can be further categorized into saddles for Polo Riding, Show Jumping etc. There are a variety of other styles such as Sidesaddle, however they are less commonly used.
The English saddle is very small and horizontal, it has built in padding but also has limited flexibility. It is also relatively light though not as light as the military saddles. The military saddles were built in a one size fits all method, although they are adjustable they were not designed to have the expert degree of fitting that the other saddles incorporate. It is probably fortunate for the horses that military does not use them anymore as the military saddle is not the most comfortable one in use.
The most familiar saddle to the vast majority of humanity is the Western Saddle. This is the one that is featured in the Hollywood movies with the high horn for gripping. Unlike the English saddle, the Western is not equipped with its own padding therefore it requires an assortment of blankets underneath so as to not wear down the skin of the horse. This saddle is the heaviest of all saddles however due to its ingenious design, the overall pressure is actually smaller than the other saddles. This allows the horse to be able to travel great distances, an advantage in the long ranges a cowboy had to go through. Also, due to its shape a variety of trick riding is possible thereby creating the rodeos that were (and to a certain extent are) a major part of the American West.
The Asian saddle is the most broad of the categories spanning saddles with and without pads. An interesting feature is that while the European and American saddles predominantly feature wood, the Asian saddles (mostly Chinese, Japanese and Tibetan) incorporate metal. As a whole the horse saddle industry has gone down over the years as machines have taken the place that animals once occupied. However the equestrian trade is not fully lost. Farms have been shown to help children and others attain some peace in their lives, in fact people with autism and other disorders have increasingly turned to horses as a way to give themselves greater independence. Maybe all is not lost for saddles.
write by Sarah Rounsville