Kids who learn to ride horses when young often become better riders. Riding, and even just being around a horse, becomes instinctual when they start young. However, one challenge of starting a child off as a young rider is finding tack that fits them. Here are some tips to help you find a western saddle for a growing child.
Don't worry about the silver.
Parents often worry that they'll spend thousands on a nice show saddle for their child, only to have them grow and need another expensive saddle a year or two down the road. But most kids do not need an expensive saddle with silver. Even if they go to a few local shows, the dress code is usually pretty relaxed for the kids' classes for this reason. If you're on a budget, focus on the plainer western saddles with smooth leather and perhaps one or two silver buttons for embellishment.
Look for a suede seat.
Some western saddles have suede seats, and others have smooth leather seats. For a child, you really want a saddle that has a suede seat. It's a bit grippier, so your child will have an easier time keeping their bottom in the saddle. This is really helpful for kids who are still learning to follow the horse's motion with their bodies.
Buy it a little big.
Have your child sit in western saddles of various sizes. In a saddle that fits, there should be only a few fingers' worth of space between the child's rear end and the back of the saddle. Look for a saddle with just a little more space than this. It won't be so large that your child can't ride effectively in it, but it will be large enough for them to grow into and keep a little longer.
Check that the stirrups adjust.
Before you buy a particular western saddle, make sure the stirrups adjust to a length appropriate for your child's legs. Also, make sure there is room for the stirrups to go down a little more as your child grows. You can buy stirrup extenders if needed, but it's nice not to have to do so.
If you keep the advice above in mind, you should have better luck when shopping for a western saddle for your child. Make sure you visit several tack stores and have them sit in plenty of saddles before you choose one.
For more information about western saddles, visit a local retailer.