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Best Western Saddles for Gaited Horses at Every Price Point

Western saddles for gaited horses

You may need to look into getting one of the best western saddles for gaited horses. Something feels off, or maybe the veteran rider at your barn pointed out some white hairs starting to show in your horse’s once immaculate coat. They’re not from age– they’re from an ill-fitting saddle. 

Although you may be used to throwing your trusty saddle on every horse you ride, the truth is that all horses have different backs and therefore need a different fitting saddle. This holds especially true for gaited horses. 

Why Riders need Western Saddles for gaited horses

Your gaited horse does not move the same as a non-gaited horse, does he? Therefore, the best western saddles for gaited horses have to be structured differently to accommodate your horse’s beautiful extension and stepping action. 

Additionally, every horse varies in their wither height and shoulder angle, and gaited horses are no different.

Gaited horses typically have different measurements than the average Quarter Horse making the best western saddles for gaited horses different from the best saddles for non-gaited horses. 

That’s why most people assume that providing more room for movement equals a wider gullet, but that can actually mean the bars of the tree do not connect properly with the shoulders.

When that happens, the saddle lacks the proper support in the shoulder area. 

It’s more complicated than just providing a wider gullet; the best western saddles for gaited horses typically have trees with shorter bars and more flare, so there is no interference with the pronounced hip and shoulder movement. 

The best western saddles for gaited horses will be designed with the typical gaited horse conformation in mind, but you should still make sure the saddle fits your horse to give yourself and your gaited horse the best riding experience.

Signs your current saddle is not fitting properly

It may be time to start looking for Western saddles for gaited horses if you see any of these symptoms.

Behavioral Issues:

  • Walks off when trying to tighten the cinch or mount
  • Bites at the saddle
  • Refuses to move or stumbles excessively
  • Acts up more the longer you ride
  • Lays his ears back, swishes his tail, and tosses his head
  • Sensitive to touch on his back
  • Changes speed or bucks for no apparent reason

Physical Signs:

  • Saddle sores
  • Dry spots (after a ride, your horse’s back should be evenly damp, except for the spine)
  • Swelling
  • White hairs
  • Muscle atrophy

By purchasing one of the best western saddles for gaited horses, you will ensure years of enjoyable and pain-free rides for both yourself and your horse. 

So, what are your options? 

We broke our favorites into categories; full leather, cordura, and a final category for our equine friends with high withers. No matter your budget, you’ll find a great option here. 

Best Fully Leather Western Saddles for Gaited Horses

 Western Saddles for Gaited Horses #1

14″ to 17″ Circle Y Alabama Flex2 Trail Gaiter Saddle 1581

List Price: $2,535
Horse Saddle Shop Price: $1,990 

The Alabama Flex2 Trail Gaiter 1581 is one of the best western saddles for gaited horses, thanks to the thoughtful engineering that gives this saddle such a smooth ride for yourself and your horse. 

Your gaited horse will appreciate the Flex2 tree, the NeoShock skirts that cut down on gait interference thanks to their shortness and rounding, and the 3-Way adjustable in-skirt rigging for more options to free up the shoulder.

Plus, hot days on the trail will be easier with the Flex2 Tunnel Skirt, which decreases rubbing, sore spots, and any pressure along the spine and provides welcome ventilation. 

This saddle is not only designed to fit a wide range of gaited horses, but it also is designed for rider comfort.

The leather feels “ready-to-ride” right out of the box, thanks to Circle Y’s revolutionary Softee Leather used for the seat jockeys and fenders. The ErgoBalance Stirrups eliminate torque in your knees and ankles by tilting the stirrup up, and the Impact Foam seat gives you maximum cushion while standing the test of time. 

The Alabama Flex2 Trail Gaiter 1581 comes with rave reviews from gaited horse riders with five-stars across the board on Horse Saddle Shop. 

Pros: 

  • 5-star rated
  • Rider sizes from 14 inch to 17 inch 
  • 3 color choices; Walnut, Regular Oil, and Black

Cons: 

  • Heavier than Cordura saddles 
  • Mid-to-high-range price

14″ to 17″ Julie Goodnight Blue Ridge Flex2 Trail Saddle 1751

Western Saddles for Gaited Horses #2

List Price: $2,748
Horse Saddle Shop Price: $2,499

The Julie Goodnight Blue Ridge Flex2 Trail Saddle 1751 is one of the best western saddles for gaited horses like it’s cousin the Circle Y Alabama.

It has the same Flex2 tree, Softee leather seat jockeys and fenders, Flex2 Tunnel Skirt, and 3-Way adjustable in-skirt rigging that we love so much in the Circle Y Alabama.

But for an extra $500, the standard fleece lining of the saddle is replaced with the Slip-Not skirt liner. The Slip-Not skirt liner features the XPG gell bar pad for your horse’s comfort. 

That extra $500 also ups the style: this saddle is simply gorgeous. The leather features diamond border tooling and silver conchos. Although beauty may be subjective, we think you’ll agree this is the prettiest option on the list. 

This saddle earned a perfect 5-star rating by reviewers.

Pros:

  • Three color choices; Walnut, Regular Oil, and Black
  • Beautiful craftmanship
  • Multiple seat sizes

Cons:

  • Heavier than other options at about 30 lbs
  • Highest price

Best Cordura Western Saddle for Gaited Horses

To maintain quality and comfort while also lowering the price, check out cordura saddles. These saddles are usually partly leather and partly synthetic cordura.

The cordura cuts down on costs because the stitching is much less labor-intensive.

However, cordura is also more flexible, allowing yourself and your horse more room to move, which is the mark of the best western saddles for gaited horses. 

Circle Y El Campo Cordura Gaited Trail Saddle 6970 

Western Saddles for Gaited Horses #3

List Price: $1,105
Horse Saddle Shop Price: $870

The 5-star rated El Campo Cordura Gaited Trail Saddle 6970 features flexible cordura rounded skirts and fenders to allow a greater range of movement for your horse.

The saddle also features adjustable position rigging so that you can customize your rigging placement for your gaited horse.

Reviewers also appreciated the enduro rigging, with multiple reviewers saying it worked better than using a rear cinch.

This saddle offers a comfy ride for the humans, thanks to the double padded seat in either suede or grainout.

This good looking saddle features smooth tooling, stainless steel hardware, and real leather swell, horn, seat jockey, and cantle. The El Campo is also lighter than most, weighing in at 25lbs, for riders who want a lighter option.  

Because of these features, the Circle Y El Campo is one of the best western saddles for gaited horses.

Pros:

  • Easy to lift
  • Adjustable rigging
  • Multiple seat sizes

Cons: 

  • Less new technology than the Circle Y Alabama or Julie Goodnight

Best Western Saddle for Gaited Horses With High Withers

Western Saddles for Gaited Horses #4

16″ Big Horn Cordura Gaited Horse Saddle High Withers 257

List Price: $978
Horse Saddle Shop Price: $815

If you have a high withered horse, you may have struggled in the past to find a properly fitted saddle. That’s where this guy comes in.

The Big Horn Cordura Gaited Horse Saddle High Withers 257 is one of the best western saddles for gaited horses with high withers and features a fiberglass covered wood tree with exclusively designed gaited horse bars.

The fiberglass offers additional reinforcement to the wood, while the cordura skirt and fenders make this saddle one of the lightest on the market at 20 lbs. 

A reviewer shared that this saddle is perfect for all-day use on the trails because the padded seat is so comfortable. 

This saddle is also has a 5-star rating.

Pros:

  • Lightweight at 20 lbs

Cons:

  • Only one seat size; 16” grainout seat
  • The ⅞ position rigging is not adjustable
  • Less new technology than the Circle Y Alabama or Julie Goodnight

Western Saddles For Gaited Horses Conclusion

There is a range of high quality and well-loved saddles to choose from in every price bracket.

Your horse is an individual, so make sure that your favorite will also be his favorite – the best western saddle for gaited horses will be the best fitting western saddle for your gaited horse.

When choosing from this list of best western saddles for gaited horses, at the end of the day, as long as both you and your horse are comfortable, you can’t go wrong. 

Happy trails!

Was this post helpful in helping you decide what’s the best western saddles for gaited horses? Does your horse back away when trying to mount? It could be you have the wrong saddle. Read my post Horse Backs Up When Mounting to find out why.

12 Comments

  • Jamie L. says:

    This is such a valuable article. So many people buy a saddle for the looks or what accessories they can adorn it with but few people actually consider the comfort of the horse when choosing a saddle. I’ve seen so many horses with the traits you listed when an ill fitted saddle is being put on them. They move, buck unexpectedly, etc. Looking back it all makes so much sense. I need to share this post with my friends and with saddle clubs.
    If only there was a way to test drive a saddle .
    Thanks again for such a great post!

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Hi Jamie. Thanks for your comment. Yes! People rarely consider the comfort of the horse when buying a saddle. And fortunately, at The Horse Saddle Shop, you can “test drive” saddles. You can purchase the saddle and you have 2 weeks to get your money back. They also sell used saddles where you can also return the saddle within 2 weeks if you’re not happy. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Danijela says:

    Wow, what a wonderful text! I adore horses, they are such noble and smart animals. Only though I love them I have never ridden a horse because I am honestly a little scared. Especially when it starts to gallop! But this post encouraged me and I will definitely try but only if I buy a suitable saddle. I realized that both feeling and safety while riding depend on it so saddle is number 1 to enjoy riding. I read the reviews for each saddle and I like the 14 ″ to 17 ″ Circle Y Alabama Flex2 Trail Gaiter 1581 saddle the most. The visual is very nice and has good performance so safety is guaranteed. I will definitely buy it! Only then I can enjoy riding.

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Hi Danijela. You’re right. Safety and comfort in the saddle is most important. Thanks for commenting.

  • Nedia says:

    Thank you for this article. I find it to be very informative. For example, I really didn’t know that all horses have different backs. I also learned that when buying a saddle for your gaited horse the most important factor to consider is your horse’s comfort. I thought the rider’s comfort was the most important thing. I like the fact that there are quality saddles for all budget sizes. The pros and cons in this article make it easy to find the best saddle for you and your dear horse.  Thanks again for this awesome post!

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Thank you for your comment Nedia. Yes. Most people don’t realize that they have to take their horse’s comfort into consideration when buying a saddle. I’m so glad my post helped you. 

  • Satz says:

    As I read your post, I figured that gaited horse required a different saddle due to their movement and body structure. It is so important that the horse owner considers the horse while choosing saddles as it impacts the performance & comfort of a horse.

    I remember as a kid when I used to go for horse rides, there were instances when the horse would try to run out under the saddle as the horse owner would mount it. Now I understand why the horse was running out, it was probably uncomfortable for the poor horse or it had a sore back.

    I hope the majority of horse owners read this post and take appropriate care when choosing saddles for their horses.

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Thank you Satz for your comment. Yes. Gaited horses have different conformation and require saddles specifically made for them. Unfortunately, many horse owners don’t know this and so they pick regular saddles for their horses. I wrote an article on why your horse backs up when mounting which talks about this more. Please feel free to read. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Zayom says:

    Thank you for this article. I find it to be very informative. For example, I really didn’t know that all horses have different backs. I also learned that when buying a saddle for your gaited horse the most important factor to consider is your horse’s comfort. I thought the rider’s comfort was the most important thing. I like the fact that there are quality saddles for all budget sizes. The pros and cons in this article make it easy to find the best saddle for you and your dear horse.  Thanks again for this awesome post!

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Hi Zayom! Thanks so much for your comment. Yes. It’s really important to take your horse’s comfort into consideration when buying a saddle. Otherwise, your horse will perform poorly due to pain. And what I love about The Horse Saddle Shop is that they have saddles, both new and used, at very reasonable prices. And the kicker is that they have a money-back guarantee!  

  • Schalk says:

    Wow, I never realised that there are so many factors that needs to be kept into consideration when considering a saddle for a horse. As a layman on this topic I did not know what a gaited horse is, and needed to Google it. Another eye opener to me was the price of a horse saddle. It certainly does not come cheap when considering quality. I can imagine that horse saddles can cost you a small fortune if you have several horses, and therefore require several saddles, due to the fact that one saddle does not fit all.

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Hi Schalk. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Yes, there are so many factors that come into play when buying a saddle. And yes, the price is steep for a new saddle. But the good news is that you can purchase high-quality used saddles for a reputable source like The Horse Saddle Shop where you get a money-back guarantee on all saddles – both new and used.

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