Child Saddles on Big Horses

As an adults, many of us don't think about about a small child riding  a full size horse. We think a young rider should be on a Miniature Horse or small Pony, using a pony or mini saddle....right?

When our children want to get on our full size horse, we just place the child in our full size saddle or put their pony saddle on our full size horse. Neither are very good ideas, especially if the child starts riding the full size horse regularly.

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These saddles need to be chosen with the size of the child and the build of the horse in mind.  The saddle must fit both properly.

Kids are Fearless! They want to ride that big, huge horse that towers over them. We have all see it and many of us have been there.

Locating child saddles designed for the full size horse or large pony is another challenge. Saddle manufacturers tell us it's all about the money. Of course it is!

Small Western saddles for kids that fit full size horses cost manufacturers as much, if not more to make than the big saddle. They cost as much to make and most of them sell for less.

The child saddle needs to fit both the child and the horse. Not only is it more comfortable for the child, but it is safer. This saddle also needs to fit the horse they are riding.

You need to consider what size seat is best, the stirrup length, and the type of saddle.

Then you need to look at the horse or pony they are riding. This means that you are looking at saddle trees with wider gullet size and of course, quality and affordability.

The saddle pictured on the left fits nicely on the broad back, stout built large pony or full size horse.  See how wide it is?  You will want to have a Semi- or a Full Quarter Horse Bar Tree.  The gullet measurements should be 6.5" to 7 plus inches.

Below is a photo of a 12" saddle that fits a full size horse.  Notice the deep seat and high cantle.

We have found that as a General Rule, stirrups will only go up so high on these saddles.  If you try to raise the stirrups any higher, you would run into the issue of trying to turn the stirrup forward.  Unless the child is severely pigeon toed, this won't work.  The only other option is to take the saddle to a leather craftsman to cut down the stirrup fenders to raise the stirrups.

Stirrup Lengths

If you place a tape measure in the center of the seat and measure down the fender to the place the foot rests in the stirrup (roughly the inseam measurement of the child less a few inches for bending the knee) you can use this guide.

  • 10" Western saddle - shortest stirrup length is about 20"
  • 12" Western saddle - shortest stirrup length is about 22"
  • 13" Western saddle - shortest stirrup length is about 24"

Barrel Racing Saddles

We have found a few manufacturers that offer affordable 10", 12" and 13" western saddles. Most are designed for barrel racing and gaming.

Whether the young rider is into barrel racing or not, these saddles are wonderful for all types of riding. Why? They have a deep seat with up to 5" or 6" high cantles. The deeper seats give both the children and the parent a better sense of security. It aids the child in maintaining better balance if the horse moves too quickly.

We have been selling these saddles for several years on eBay and at our shop. Recently we opened an online tack store that carries several types of child saddles that fit full size horses.

If you would like to take a look at or learn more about some of these saddles, send us an inquiry through our Contact page. Be sure to let us know if you ever have any questions about any of our saddles or tack in general. We are happy to help.

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