How to Ride a Horse in an Australian Saddle

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Australian saddles, with and without horn
Australian saddles, with and without horn

Riding horses is fun and great exercise. Most people ride Western or English--but there is a third choice--and many of the people who have tried it will never ride any other way again. Trying an Australian saddle can give you a whole new feel to your ride.

Things You'll Need

  • Australian saddle
  • Well-trained horse

Riding in an Australian saddle is a whole new experience, especially for riders who have only ridden Western Pleasure. Just because you may be riding in an Aussie saddle that has a horn, do not fool yourself. It is NOT a Western Saddle, and will not feel like one. So step one is to prepare yourself mentally for a new experience.

Mounting will be more like climbing into an English saddle. The stirrups are not wide and heavy like Western saddles, more often than not they are styled like the English saddle "irons." Once you have swung into the seat, be sure to settle your feet properly in the stirrups with only the balls of your feet resting on the stirrup bar. Never push your whole foot through the stirrup. This is asking for it to get stuck and if you are stuck in your stirrup at speed, you may be dragged to death. So good foot placement is important.

Notice that you sit much deeper than a standard English saddle, yet much more forward than a Western saddle. The Aussie saddle is a forward seating saddle, like the English saddle. However, it has a higher rear and nice big "swells" in front of your thighs to help hold you firmly in your seat.

As you move out on your horse, the saddle will compel you to move your seat forward--as in English riding. However, the horn (if there is one) and the large swells give the saddle far more security and will give you a sense of an "almost" Western saddle experience. There are really no words to describe it. You must experience it for yourself.

As you increase your speed, you will notice the stirrups and the leg positioning of the saddle will keep your legs in perfect balance under you to help maintain your seat. The Aussie saddle has been developed over two centuries of use in the Australian outback, where the saddle must keep the rider alive in extremely dangerous and primitive conditions. Riding in an Australian saddle may very well spoil you for any other, once you have tried it on the trail.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always wear a helmet when riding.

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