How to Measure an English Saddle

Posted by Mary's Tack & Feed on 28th Oct 2020

How to Measure an English Saddle

When choosing a new English saddle, it's important to get the right seat size and flap configuration. Together, these factors will facilitate good balance and therefore good habits. Buying a saddle is a big investment. We're here to help you determine if the saddle you are currently riding in is too big or too small. We're going to help you determine if the English saddle you're currently riding in is a good fit.

Measure the Seat of your Current Saddle

When measuring your current English saddle, it's important that the saddle is level.  This will make it much easier to measure.  Use a measuring tape and measure from the center of the button on the pommel (front of the saddle), to the middle of the cantle (rear of the saddle).  For most adult size saddles this will be about 17".  Teenagers may find a 16" fits them better, and taller riders may find that an 18" saddle provides a bit more pelvic support. 

Now that you have your seat measurement, let's figure out if it's a good fit for you.  With your saddle correctly balanced on your horse, and your horse standing on level ground, place your feet in the stirrups and sit in the middle of your saddle.  Can you fit a hands width between where you sit and the back of the saddle?  If you can't, your seat may be too small.  If there is more than a hands with behind you, your seat is possibly too big.  Do the same test in the front.  The same rules apply.  The rule of thumb is that you should be able to comfortably fit a hands with in front of and behind you when you're sitting squarely in the saddle.  If this isn't the case, let us know!  We'll help you figure out which seat size may be more appropriate.

What is a forward flap anyway?

Now that you've determined your seat size, let's take a peek at the flaps.  A well-fitting flap will contour nicely with the contour of your leg in your preferred stirrup length. The point of your knee should be directly behind and in line with the most forward point of your flap. If your knee falls naturally with in about an inch of extra flap in front of the knee is acceptable and will provide security and balance.

For riders with a long thigh, a forward flap may better accommodate the natural angle of their leg.  If you find that your knee often pops over the front of the saddle, you may need a forward flap. A "forward" flap will bring the most forward part of the flap even more forward.  Flaps can be ordered in standard, forward, and some companies will even accommodate flap forwardness by the centimeter.

Determine the Proper Flap Length

The overall length of the flap can be determined by the length of the rider's leg.  You want a flap that hits about a third of the way down your calf, and more specifically, that doesn't get caught on the top of your tall riding boots.  If you have longer legs but need a smaller seat, a long flap might better suit your natural leg position.  To determine if you need a long flap, sit naturally in your current saddle with your stirrups at riding length.  Does the flap of the saddle end within the top quarter of your leg?  You may need a longer flap.  Does the flap of the saddle end more than half way down your leg?  You might do better with a short flap.  All saddle manufacturers have different configurations for the length of the flap, so it will depend on the seat size and brand of saddle.  Depending on the length of your stirrups when you ride, your own unique anatomy, and your riding preferences, you may need a more forward or long flap.  

If you need a hand, give us a call at 800-551-6279.  Measuring an English saddle correctly is a great way to know what to rule out, or in, on your next new saddle. With so many unique configurations out there, we're sure to find you the best fit possible.