English rider needs help with Western trail saddle sizing

HELP! I am buying a western trail saddle for a friend. She doesn’t have much money so I want to surprise her. She is a beginner rider and will mainly be doing trail riding a some ring work. She is very petit at 5’1. I am looking to stay under $400. Chick’s Saddlery is a sale, are any of the saddles worth buying? The horse is a paint but not a wide one so I think a medium tree would fit him. Thanks for your help!

I have a synthetic King trail saddle that I think is in that price range and it’s been decent. The Wintecs are also fine. Look for semi-QH bars and probably a size 15 or 16.

Thank you!

I would recommend a 14 or 14.5 inch for someone that petite. Absolutely not a 16.


“Petite” in women is anyone 5’4" or under, regardless of clothing size.
Is she slender? Or more Rubenesque?

I suggest a youth saddle with full quarter horse bars in a 14 or 15 inch seat, probably 14.

Why a youth saddle?

I’m 5’3" and I ride in a western saddle with special ordered youth fenders. (I also use kids length stirrup leathers on my English saddle.) The shorter fenders are much more comfortable because with regular adult length fenders, I have to pull them up as far as they go and that bumps the top of the stirrup right up into the bottom of the fender and it doesn’t hang right. Since the person you’re buying for is so petite, a youth saddle is probably going to be a better overall fit.


Full quarter horse bars (FQHB) instead of semi quarter horse bars (SQHB) because, in my experience, SQHB often aren’t wide enough, especially after you’ve got a good thick pad on the horse, which you will want for trail riding. My current horse measures a pretty solid medium on a Wintec gullet gauge and he wears a FQHB saddle. My Cashel regular tree (SQHB) trail saddle, bought for a petite Thoroughbred, is too narrow for him.

If you’re shopping on Chicks web site, click on the “Specifications” tab under Product Details to see if the saddle is full or semi QHB.

I bought a Wintec western saddle from Chicks years ago that I was very happy with. The person I sold it to is in my barn and she is also very happy with it.


I’m 5’3, 120 lbs ride in a 17” jump saddle that’s a hair too big and same size dressage saddle and ride in a 14.5” or 15” western saddle depending how open the seat is.

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You really need to (at least ) measure for the gullet width so you have an idea of what might fit the horse. Some horses are wider than they look and some saddles are narrower/ wider than others that are supposedly the same size…

Kind of like buying women jeans now-a-days. No longer can you go off what size you are currently wearing.

A 15" maximum if she’s a smaller gal. I’m short and round, I ride in a 16" western and 18" English