Home » 9 Best Horse Saddles That Every Trail Rider Will Love

9 Best Horse Saddles That Every Trail Rider Will Love

Trail riding is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable types of horse back riding.  Miles of trails and beautiful scenery make every minute worth the ride.  However, long hours in a poorly designed saddle will make you regret that all day adventure.  Staying comfortable is easier than you think with the right tack and starts with the perfect saddle.  

I will share 9 of the best horse saddles that every trail rider will love.  There are Western, English, Australian and endurance styles to choose from.  Pick your favorite type and give it a try on the trail.  

Here is the quick list of the 9 best trail saddles you’re sure to love. 

  1. T60 High Plains by Tucker® Saddlery
  2. Cashel Western Trail Saddle
  3. Circle Y Wrangler Flex2 Trail Saddle
  4. AOC Stockman Bush Ride Saddle
  5. T59 Endurance by Tucker® Saddlery
  6. Dakota End Trail Saddle 313
  7. King Trekker Trail Saddle
  8. Wintec Western Trail Saddle
  9. Eclipse Touch1 Synthetic Round Skirt Trail Saddle

Keep reading to learn why each made the list and how to pick the right one for you.

Types of trail riding saddles

There are numerous saddle options and technically, almost any saddle can be used on a trail ride.  Let’s quickly go over why English, Western, Australian and endurance saddles can all work in certain situations for trail riding.

Trail riding covers many types of trails over numerous landscapes and terrains.  The more rugged the trail, the sturdier the saddle should be.  

English Saddles

Not usually considered trail riding saddles, English saddles can be used on easy trails with relatively little elevation gain.  Think more country roads than mountain trails.  Rough trails with lots of up and downs, tricky footings and water crossings make it harder to stay seated in an English saddle.  There is nothing to stop you from sliding off. 

Novice riders should consider using a different style saddle that keeps them more securely on their horse during a trail ride.  Nervous horses that are prone to spooking in new places should also be rode with saddles that prevent the rider from slipping off easily. 

If English saddles truly are your thing, check out the hybrid English saddles that have a slightly higher cantle and added D rings for attaching saddle bags.    

Western Saddles

Western saddles have long been the most popular choice for trail riding in America.  Their sturdy construction holds up well in brushy terrain and rough weather.  The saddle horn and high cantle along with large stirrups keep you tucked securely in the saddle.  Breast collars, cruppers and back cinches are easily attached, further securing the saddle to the horse.  Western saddles can easily be converted to pack saddles as well during overnight or extended trips when more gear is needed.

Australian Saddles

While not as popular as Western saddles, Australian saddles are actually a great trail riding option because they combine the comfort of a dressage saddle with the cradling stability of a Western saddle.  You can even get an Australian Outback Stock Saddle with or without a horn.

Australian saddles spread your weight over your backside and thighs which is more comfortable for you and your horse.  The knee pads, or poleys (unique to Australian saddles) keep you from flying over the top of your horse if he steps in a hole.  Your legs also hang in a natural forward position ready to prop against any misstep further keeping you securely in the saddle.

Endurance Saddles

Endurance saddles are a fourth option you should look into, especially if you are planning to spend long hours in the saddle.  These saddles combine the best features of the other styles because comfort is extremely important for long distance endurance riders.  Therefore, these same saddles are perfect for keeping you comfortable on a trail ride, no matter how far you decide to go.  

How do I choose a trail saddle

Choosing a trail saddle isn’t complicated.  However, you should believe experienced trail riders when they say comfort should be your number one priority!  Spend time making sure whatever saddle you choose fits you perfectly.

Covering miles on the trail usually takes several hours or it can be an all day affair.  That’s a long time to sit astride your horse and remain comfortable.  Trail riding saddles are specifically designed to help keep you pain free for longer.     

At the same time, trail saddles allow you to stay safely on your horse’s back while traversing uneven and steep terrain.  They also have numerous attachment points to secure all your saddle bags and gear.

Regardless of saddle type, make sure it has most, if not all, of the following trail necessities.

Horn or Pommel Ring

The saddle horn on a Western or Australian saddle is a priceless saddle feature for trail riding.  It’s nice to grab the horn during steep, uphill sections of trail to help keep you from sliding backwards out of the saddle.  If your horse rears, bucks or quickly side steps, grabbing the horn will also give you a secure hand hold.  Make sure it fits your hands nicely.  You don’t want a horn designed for calf roping that is too thick and keeps you from getting a good grip.  

Make sure the horn is strong for attaching pommel bags and lead ropes.  Quick access to snacks, maps and your phone saves time.  Stopping to dig around in the rear saddle bags for your phone every time you want to take a picture will quickly become annoying.

Endurance saddles don’t have horns but they do have a hole in the pommel that still allows you to grab onto it.  Make sure the hole is big enough to easily wrap your fingers underneath.  They make endurance specific pommel bags but your choices are more limited.  

High Cantle

Choose a saddle with a high seat rim, otherwise known as the cantle.  This not only cradles you with more support and comfort, it also keeps you from sliding off the back of the saddle when going uphill.  A high cantle also keeps your saddle bags and any rolled gear like coats from touching your back when tied behind the saddle. 

The cantle on endurance and Australian saddles are naturally higher.  Western saddles have extremely low to high profile cantles depending on the brand.  Make sure to pick one with a taller cantle.

Cushioned Seat

A hard leather seat leads to a sore tush after hours in the saddle.  Many trail and endurance saddles have built in seat padding.  Look for ones with considerable loft but without pinch points.  Tucker® saddles are known for their gel cushion seats.  Built in cushions are not a deal breaker since you can add aftermarket seat pads.  However, getting the most comfortable seat possible will keep you in the saddle longer.  

Flexible Fenders or Stirrup Leathers

One of the biggest complaints I hear from trail riders is knee pain.  Not only does your backside get sore after hours in the saddle but so do your knees.  The number one preventive measure is to make sure your saddle fenders or stirrup leathers are flexible.  If your legs have to strain any amount to keep your stirrups turned, that constant pressure is going to result in knee pain.      

This is where Australian and endurance saddles have a better design than Western saddles.  They have thinner stirrup leathers that are easier to turn than thick Western fenders.

I’ve written an article completely dedicated to alleviating knee pain while riding so make sure to check that out for more details.  

Wide Stirrups 

The most comfortable trail riding stirrups are wide and deep.  The bigger the stirrup, the more pressure is distributed across your entire foot.  This is especially important when you are going up or down hills and need to lean or stand in the saddle.  Not only is a wider stirrup more comfortable, it’s easier to balance and keep your feet from slipping.

Saddles that have perpendicular stirrups will also help prevent knee and ankle pain since you don’t have to turn them to place your foot inside.  If a saddle doesn’t have turned stirrups, there are several inexpensive options for doing it yourself.  I cover these in the preventing knee pain article as well. 

D Rings 

When you are adventuring with your horse on a trail ride, no matter the location, it’s always a good idea to take safety gear, food and water.  Loose gear may startle your horse or it could fall off during your ride.  Make sure any saddle you are considering has several D rings or built in tie straps for attaching saddle bags, pommel bags and for tying down your coat.  

Having your horse carry the supplies is way more comfortable than wearing a backpack yourself. 

It’s also important that the saddle has front rings to attach a breast collar and back rings for using a crupper if necessary.  These tack pieces help keep your saddle centered on your horse’s back during uphill and downhill sections of trail.  

Maximize your options for hauling gear.  You never know what may happen out on the trail or what gear you might want to bring along.

Saddle Material

Not only do you have to look into all the options above, you also have to pick the material your saddle is made of.  There are not a lot of choices but it is still an important decision.  Saddles are either 100% leather, partial synthetic or full synthetic.  

Synthetic means the saddle is made of any material other than leather.  Most synthetic saddles are made of cordura which is an extremely tough fabric.   

Leather saddles are classic.  They can be plain or beautifully designed with tooled patterns.  Leather is heavier and more expensive than synthetic saddles.  Yet with the weight, comes a better anchor to your horse and durability.  

Look for good quality leather.  Darker colored leather won’t show stains and water marks as easily as the lighter tan colors. 

If you have a slighter build, hefting a heavy leather saddle around and onto your horse might be uncomfortable.  Partial and full synthetic saddles usually weigh several pounds less than their leather counterpart.  For long distance riding, a lighter weight saddle is easier for your horse to carry as well.

For those of you who love colorful horse tack, cordura saddles are your ticket to style.  Since cordura is a fabric material, they come in almost all colors imaginable!  

Cleaning synthetic saddles is easy.  Simply use a damp rag to wipe off dust and dirt.  Leather saddles are going to require additional saddle soap and elbow grease to get them to really shine. 

Buying a good trail saddle

We’ve covered the key elements you should look for when picking out a trail riding saddle.  Now comes the fun part.  Start narrowing down your choices!  

I’ve done a lot of the hard work for you.  The following 9 saddles meet most, if not all, of the trail riding essential features I mentioned above.  If any peek your interest, do some more research to solidify your choice.

3 Best Trail Saddles For Western Riders

Most of the time you will see Western saddles in use out on the trail.  If this type of saddle is also your favorite style, start by checking out these top 3 Western trail saddles. 

1.  T60 High Plains by Tucker® Saddlery

  • Seat Size:  15 1/2”, 16 1/2”, 17 1/2”, 18 1/2”
  • Tree Width:  Medium, Wide, Extra Wide, FB Medium
  • Weight:  26.0 pounds
  • Material:  Leather

Tucker® Saddlery is one of the biggest names in the industry when it comes to trail riding saddles.  Western saddles are their speciality but they also make a few endurance saddles as well.  

The T60 High Plains is their most popular trail saddle and for good reason.  Not only do you get a highly secure and comfortable seat with a 5” cantle and patented Gel-CushTM Shock Absorbing seat, there is also a sturdy horn and multiple D-rings for tack and gear attachment.  

You also get some customization with this saddle as well.  Choose from 3 leather colors, 2 hardware finishes, 4 seat sizes, and 4 tree fits.  This saddle will fit both you and your horse.  

The only downside is the hefty price tag of Tucker® saddles.  However, sometimes you do get what you pay for.  If their Gel-CushTM seat is a must-have for you, be ready to shell out $2,000 – $3,000 for a new saddle.

2.  Cashel Western Trail Saddle

  • Seat Size:  15”, 16”, 17”
  • Tree Width:  Regular, Wide, Extra Wide
  • Weight:  24.5 pounds
  • Material:  Leather

Cashel saddles are known for their great fit for both horse and rider.  The Cashel Western Trail Saddle comes in 3 tree sizes and 3 seat sizes.  You get to pick which combo fits you and your horse the best.

For trail riding, the smooth seat prevents any pressure points or pinching during a long ride.  The 4” cantle keeps you seated securely during both up and down hill sections of trail.  There are 6 rings with long leather strings for attaching all your gear.  The cutout skirt provides closer contact to your horse while riding while also decreasing the weight of this leather saddle. 

You can expect to pay a pretty penny for this saddle at $1800.  You might be able to find it for a few hundred less depending on the seller.    

3.  Circle Y Wrangler Flex2 Trail Saddle 

  • Seat Size:  14”, 15”, 16”, 17”, 18”
  • Tree Width:  Flex2 SS Regular, Flex2 SS Wide
  • Weight:  30.0 pounds
  • Material:  Leather

For a truly heavy duty trail saddle that will take all the abuse you can throw at it and then some, look no further than the Circle Y Wrangler Flex2 Trail Saddle.  The entire seat area is smooth, hard leather but a simple after market cushion can fix any discomfort.  The high 5” cantle provides ample back support and is perfect for securing cantle bags filled with gear. 

Speaking of gear, the 6 rings with long leathers and the sturdy horn also provide attachment points perfect for plenty of gear.  The required attachment rings for a  breast collar, rear cinch and crupper are also present.

The quality you get with a $2600-3000 price tag is worth it.  You will never have to buy another saddle so long as you don’t outgrow it.  

3 Best Trail Saddles For Comfort

When comfort is your number one priority or you just want to trying something different, take a look at Australian and endurance saddles.

1.  AOC Stockman Bush Rider Saddle with Horn

  • Seat Size:  17”, 18”, 19”
  • Tree Width:  Full quarter
  • Weight:   29.0 pounds
  • Material:  Leather

Australian saddles are extremely comfortable on the trail and will be the next style I add to my tack collection.  The Bush Rider’s high cantle and large poleys cradle you securely in the saddle while your legs hang naturally forward, ready to brace if your horse trips over uneven ground.  The supple stirrup leathers are also nice on sensitive knees.  

The saddle horn is also a trail must as it gives you a sturdy holding spot for yourself, gear and lead ropes.  Numerous attachment rings allow for saddle bags, a breast collar, rear cinch, crupper and more!

Not only will you have a comfortable and unique saddle, it is much more affordable at $450 – $700.

2.  T59 Endurance by Tucker® Saddlery

  • Seat Size:  15 1/2”, 16 1/2”, 17 1/2”, 18 1/2”
  • Tree Width:  Medium, Wide, Extra Wide, FB Medium
  • Weight:  20.0 pounds
  • Material:  Leather

Tucker® Saddlery makes our “best trail saddle” list again with their T59 Endurance saddle.  With the steep price tag of $2100, the quality and comfort of this saddle is no joke.  Weighing in at only 20 pounds, this saddle is easier to heft onto your horse and gives them less weight to carry.

The special Gel-CushTM seat can’t be overlooked when it comes to comfort on a long trail ride.  The wide stirrups, supple fenders, multiple rings and rear cinch attachment features also get checked off on the must-have list.

3.  Dakota Endurance Trail Saddle 313

  • Seat Size:  15”, 16”, 17”
  • Tree Width:  Full quarter
  • Weight:  30.0 pounds
  • Material:  Leather

Dakota saddles are as sturdy as they come.  Their Endurance Trail Saddle 313 has more of a Western look with comfortable endurance features.  A deep seat and wide stirrups will keep you happy in the saddle.  Don’t be afraid to ride some serious miles in this saddle.

The pommel has a nice lip in case you need to grab it for extra balance.  And the multiple rings and leather straps will hold down all of your trail gear.  At $1200, this a trail riding investment that will last many years. 

3 Best Budget Trail Saddles

Not everyone can afford a saddle that costs over $1000 or even $500 for that matter.  However, there are affordable saddles that will work great for trail riding adventures that won’t break the bank.  Take a look at the following budget friendly trail saddles.

1.  King Trekker Trail Saddle

  • Seat Size:  15 1/2”, 16 1/2”, 17 1/2”
  • Tree Width:  Full quarter
  • Weight:  24.0 pounds
  • Material:  Leather

This endurance saddle is perfect for short and long trail rides.  The deep, soft leather seat keeps your backside sore-free while the wide, free-swinging stirrups relieve pressure on your feet and legs.  There are plenty of rings for gear attachment and other tack.  This saddle is also available without a horn.   

Choose between 3 seat sizes and brown or black leather.  The price is also nice on your wallet at only $400.

2.  Wintec Western Trail Saddle

  • Seat Size:  14”, 15”, 16”, 17”
  • Tree Width:  Full quarter
  • Weight:  28.0 pounds
  • Material:  Duraleather

This synthetic Western saddle uses memory foam in the seat, wide stirrups, and a 3.5” cantle.  The six, extra long saddle ties will lash down even the largest bedroll and coat bundle.  Choose from black or brown Duraleather.  You can easily wipe trail dust off this saddle with a damp rag.

When you just want to get out and ride, Wintec saddles can get you there on a smaller budget.  These saddles hover in the $480 price range.

3.  Eclipse Tough1 Synthetic Round Skirt Trail Saddle

  • Seat Size:  13”, 14”, 15”, 16”, 17”
  • Tree Width:  Full quarter
  • Weight:  15.0 pounds
  • Material:  Cordura

If you are searching for a lightweight, inexpensive, “don’t care if it gets dirty trail saddle,” then here it is.  The Eclipse Tough1 Synthetic Round Skirt Trail Saddle might be the cheapest saddle on this list at $200-$300 but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in function.  For 15” – 17” saddles, the 3” horn and 4” cantle keeps you tucked nicely in the saddle in rough terrain.  The flexible cordura fenders allow you to turn the stirrups easily.  

At only 15 pounds, you can easily throw this saddle up on your horse and you won’t feel bad about loading it down with heavy gear.  While this saddle doesn’t come with leather ties, you can easily buy them separate or just attach rope to the saddle bag rings.  There is a hole for attaching a rear cinch and rings for using a breast collar as well. Choose a bright color for added fun!

Happy trails

Taking your horse trail riding is a truly rewarding experience.  The scenic views and time spent with good friends is second to none.  Having a good saddle while doing so is important, not just for your comfort but for safety as well.  Make sure to pick a saddle that has most, if not all, of the features I mentioned above and you will be ready to put many miles in the saddle.  Happy trails!