Pony Saddles – The Parts of a Saddle

A pony saddle is made up of various parts, the names of which can be confusing. If you are serious about pony riding you should be familiar with how a saddle is made. The following will help you to tell your cantle from your pommel and your tree from your flap.

The Saddle Tree is the foundation of the saddle and can be either of two kinds – rigid or spring. A spring tree is generally used in English saddles, and a rigid tree in Western saddles. For spring trees the shape is created from a base constructed from thin plywood, layered over with fibreglass for strength. Steel strips placed beneath the saddle from front to back give the spring.

For a rigid tree a wooden base covered in leather is used, or alternatively a fibreglass base with wooden shavings Steel plates are attached underneath the tree for further reinforcement. Some saddles, called treeless are made without a rigid base, having a fibreglass pommel and cantle instead.

The Pommel is found at the front of the saddle and is the part that fits over the pony’s withers.

The Cantle is the part that rises at the back of the seat.

The Seat is where the rider sits and is the depressed area in the middle of the saddle.

The Stirrup Leathers are the adjustable leather (or sometimes webbing) straps that are attached to horizontal bars under the skirt and are used to hold the stirrups.. These bars are made in two pieces,a bar and a movable catch to secure the stirrup leather and to release it should the rider fall from the pony.

The Stirrup Irons (also called stirrups) are attached to the stirrup leathers and provide support for a rider’s feet.

The Flap is a leather flap that sits on top of the girth straps and buckles to keep the rider’s legs from rubbing on them.

The Girth Straps hold the buckles which fasten the girth to the saddle and are usually made from either webbing or leather.

The Knee Roll provides padding and grip for the rider’s knee.

The Outer Panels are made of leather and are filled with padding of felt, wool or plastic foam. They are attached to the saddle under the skirt. The padding is to protect the pony’s back and to distribute the rider’s weight evenly.

The Keeper holds the end of the stirrup leather to stop it flapping about.

The Gullet is a groove running from front to back underneath the saddle.

The Skirt is the flap of leather over the stirrup bar.

D-Rings are attached to the saddles to provide places to attach equipment e.g. a martingale.