There are numerous kinds of saddle trees, all of which have the same purpose – to serve as a foundation for your horse’s saddle. In terms of design, a saddle tree should provide the horserider with comfort while, at the same time, it shouldn’t cause the horse any harm.
Wrong saddle tree size can negatively impact both – if it’s too small, the horse will be in pain, and you would feel discomfort or even pain in case of a bumpier ride; if it’s too large, you won’t feel as stable, and fitting it to your horse will be a much more complicated process.
That’s why it’s imperative to find a saddle tree size that checks all boxes – to provide the horserider with a comfortable riding experience and control and to burden the horse as little as possible.
This is arguably one of the essential elements you should keep in mind when shopping for a saddle. The angle of your saddle tree influences its seat balance and is typically leaning either forward or backward. The angle is in tight correlation to saddle tree size, augmenting the proportions of comfort and the impact on stability if chosen right.
Types of Saddle’s Tree Sizes
There are five conventional types of saddle tree sizes, including standard, semi-quarter horse, quarter horse, full-quarter horse, and Arabian.
The purpose of categorization is to allow saddle tree manufacturers to create saddle trees that can comfortably fit the majority of horses with as much precision as possible. The differences between saddle tree sizes vary by fractions of an inch, which is more than enough to harm your horse’s shoulders or to cause a series of riding difficulties in case of a bad fit.
The Standard saddle tree size measures 5.75 inches and is designed for the smallest of horses, such as Icelandic, Fjord, Yonaguni, and ponies. Despite being called ’standard,’ it’s not as common as semi-quarter and quarter horse saddle tree sizes.
The Semi-quarter horse saddle tree size measures 6 inches and fits most smaller breeds just above the size of a miniature horse, such as Falabella or Haflinger.
The Quarter Horse measures 6.25 inches and is, by far, one of the most common saddle tree sizes. Being just barely larger than semi-quarter, it offers riders more flexibility to choose a saddle tree for small-to-medium-sized horses.
The size range of the FQH saddle tree size spans between 6.5 and 7 inches. Saddle trees of this type are for medium-to-large horses, including American Quarter, Cleveland Bay, Hanoverian, or Canadian horses. Most thoroughbreds are fitted with a full-quarter horse saddle tree.
The largest saddle tree size, an Arabian size, is between 6.25 inches and 7.5 inches. It was named as such as it is a common saddle tree size for Arabian horses, but it is also the go-to choice for horseriders who ride heavier horses, such as Belgian horses, Shire horses, or Suffolk Punch horses.