Gear Riding

Whup, Trot: 4 Best Saddle Seat Saddles for Show Ring Success

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Written by Ali S.

When it comes to finding the best Saddle Seat saddle, the struggle is real.

Saddle Seat is a discipline that many people are unfamiliar with. It is popular amongst Morgans, Saddlebreds, Arabians, Friesians, National Show Horses, and Tennessee Walkers. It is an elegant form of riding where horses have an elevated trot and high head carriage.

Bottom line: Riding Saddle Seat is a fun and electrifying experience.

This article walks you through the 4 best Saddle Seat saddles, including: 

Comparing the Best Saddle Seat Saddles

Saddle Key Features
World Cup SG Saddle
  • Leather is super grippy
  • Double ‘V’ billet balancing system
  • Shock absorbing tree points
Shively MMX Cut-Back Show Saddle

 

  • Waxed finished leather for grip
  • Seat is extra soft
  • Reinforced tree
Lovatt & Ricketts Cutback Saddle

 

  • Great option for gaited horses
  • Tree upholstered with natural latex to provide comfort
  • No-slip seat provides security
Joseph Sterling Millennium Masterbuilt Cutback Saddle

 

  • Close contact tapered panel allows you to feel your horse beneath you
  • Well padded
  • Buffalo leather provides excellent grip

Saddle Seat Saddle Basics

Saddle Seat saddles are referred to as Cutbacks or Lane Fox saddles and have a unique cutback design at the withers that allows the horse to have freer movement and trot higher.

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The cutout at the withers allows for freer movement.

Many cutback saddles have adjustable stirrup bars, allowing you to find the best position on your horse.

While riding Saddle Seat, your shoulders, hips, and heels should be in a straight line.

If you’re used to other types of English saddles and disciplines like dressage or jumping, it’s important to remember the tack and rider position are quite different for Saddle Seat.

For example, Saddle Seat saddles do not have any knee pads.

Comfort, grip, adjustability, and placement are all key features to a good fitting cutback saddle, so we prioritize these qualities in our list of front runners.

4 Best Saddle Seat Saddles

World Cup SG Saddle

Freedman’s World Cup SG Saddle is a top choice amongst many Morgan, Saddlebred, and Arabian trainers. Its lightweight design makes for a comfortable ride for both horse and rider.

It is made from top quality leather that features super grip technology to help secure your seat.

It has shock absorbing points in the tree and a double ‘V’ billet balancing system to achieve the perfect fit.

The adjusting stirrup bars help you find the right spot in the saddle for ultimate balance. This saddle is ideal for equitation riders and is a popular choice amongst all Saddle Seat riders.

PROS:

  • It is lightweight.
  • The leather is a super grip.
  • The stirrup bars are adjustable.
  • It has a double ‘V’ billet balancing system.
  • It has shock absorbing tree points.

CONS:

  • This saddle is on the expensive side.

See this saddle at Freedman Harness

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Shively MMX Cut-Back Show Saddle

The Shively MMX is made exclusively with The Winner’s Circle Horse Supply in collaboration with renowned equitation instructor, Lillian Shively.

Shively has instructed numerous equitation riders to national and world championship titles, with the help of this saddle.

The Shively MMX includes a soft seat, durable panels, and a reinforced tree, making for a comfortable ride. It is made from high-quality leather that features a unique waxed finish for superior grip.

It is a top choice amongst many Saddle Seat riders, especially equitation riders.

PROS:

  • It has waxed finished leather for grip.
  • The stirrup bars are adjustable.
  • The seat is extra soft.
  • It has a reinforced tree.
  • It has durable panels.

CONS:

  • The main flaps and jockey flaps are made of two-ply leather that may separate after a few years of use. (This does not affect the performance of the saddle.)

See this saddle at Winner’s Circle Horse Supply

Lovatt & Ricketts Cutback Saddle

The Lovatt & Ricketts cutback saddle is designed to provide superior comfort for both horse and rider. It features adjustable stirrup bars and sticky leather for a grippy seat.

Its tree is 32 cm, making it a great option for gaited horses.

The unique tree is upholstered with latex, to give it maximum comfort. The saddle is finished with luxurious water buffalo hide, which provides security and helps provide balance for the rider.

This saddle offers superior comfort and grip.

PROS:

  • It is a great option for gaited horses.
  • The tree is upholstered with natural latex to provide comfort.
  • The no-slip seat provides security.
  • It has adjustable stirrup bars.
  • It provides comfort for both horse and rider.

CONS:

  • This saddle is on the expensive side.

See this saddle at Winner’s Circle Horse Supply

Joseph Sterling Millennium Masterbuilt Cutback Saddle

The Joseph Sterling Millennium Masterbuilt Cutback Saddle is designed to provide top comfort and “rideability” for both amateurs and trainers.

It is used by many top Arabian trainers because of its unique close contact tapered panel that allows you to feel your horse beneath you while providing sufficient padding.

The buffalo leather provides excellent grip and balance. It includes adjustable stirrup bars.

PROS:

  • It is comfortable.
  • The close contact tapered panel that allows you to feel your horse beneath you.
  • It is well padded.
  • It has adjustable stirrup bars.
  • The buffalo leather provides excellent grip.

CONS:

  • This saddle is on the expensive side.

See this saddle at S Stack 

How to Measure a Saddle Seat Saddle

Cutback saddles are measured from pommel to cantle, with 21” and 22” being the most common sizes.

The saddle should not go past the 18th vertebrae on the horse.

When selecting a Saddle Seat saddle, you base the size you buy off the length of your thigh.

To measure this, it is best to sit in a chair and measure the length of your thigh from your hip.

Here is a helpful guide to finding the right size cutback saddle:

Upper leg length Recommended seat size
Up to 16½” 19″
Up to 18½” 20″
Up to 20″ 20 – 21″
Up to 21½” 21″
Up to 23″ 21 – 22″
Up to 23″
or longer
22 – 23”

(Source: Finding the Right Saddle)

Conclusion

While riding Saddle Seat, it is important to have a saddle that fits both the horse and rider. Riding Saddle Seat is thrilling, and having the right fitting saddle makes a big difference.

Though shopping for Saddle Seat saddles can be difficult (until now!), there are some great options available to help you get the most out of your riding experience. Whup, trot!

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About the author

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Ali S.

When I'm not taking equine science and nutrition courses or researching articles about rider fitness, you'll find me riding, driving, and showing my two Morgan horses. I also write for the Missouri Horse Shows Association and have earned a Saddleseat Road Hack National Championship!