Monday, October 25, 2010

Racing saddles

I know even less about racing saddles than I do about racing bridles, so all the information in this post is based solely on one day's worth of observation at Arapahoe Park in Aurora, Colorado.  It's entirely possible that you would see a different mix of saddles at a larger, single-breed race track.

The average racing saddle looks a bit like a scaled down English saddle with a long seat and very short flap.
Racing saddles come in all sorts of colors and color combination.  Each jockey has his or her own saddle, and many of the saddles are personalized with their owner's initials.
Although all the saddles are considerably smaller than a regular riding saddle, there is some variation in size.  This one (shown on a Quarter horse) is teeny-tiny.
The same horse and saddle, this picture really lets you see how small the saddle is.
This light blue saddle is on the other end of the size spectrum.
Here's the full body shot.  This horse is also a Quarter Horse.
The saddles are fastened with two separate girths.  The under girth attaches to billets under the flaps, just like a regular English saddle.
The overgirth is placed over the saddle's seat right behind the stirrup leathers.
The buckle goes under the horse's belly and the excess strap is turned over itself and secured under the overgirth's keepers.
Hope this was helpful!


  1. Also, as you can see in many of the pics, the numbers cloth is folded over on itself and secured by the girths. Some riders have another pad under that one so it pads the saddle just a little (I think you can see that one in one of the last images.

  2. Thanks for pointing that out, Laura. I was concentrating on the saddles only, but you are absolutely right about both the number cloths and the saddle pads. Additionally, sharp eyed readers probably noticed that some of the girths were used over a girth channel.

    I try my best, but I always forget something... And sometimes it's a whole lot of somethings!

  3. And please, unless it is a special race with all the same color saddle cloths, each number has it's own color cloth. This drives me batty when I judge. Red cloth, white number for 1, and pink and black for 8, not just arbitrary colors and numbers. Sorry to Here is the list according to the Jockey Club.
    1 Red
    2 White
    3 Blue
    4 Yellow
    5 Green
    6 Black
    7 Orange
    8 Pink
    9 Turquoise
    10 Purple
    11 Gray
    12 Lime
    13 Brown
    14 Maroon
    15 Khaki
    16 Copen Blue
    17 Navy
    18 Forest Green
    19 Moonstone
    20 Fuchsia

  4. Vicky, I posted a slightly less complete saddle cloth key exactly two years ago today. It's definitely worth repeating, especially since I probably had all of three or four readers back then!

  5. The saddle's size also depends on its rider. The newer jockeys tend to ride bigger saddles so they have more to hang on to, but the more experienced jockeys would rather have a few extra ounces of weight to spare!

    Thanks for the saddlecloth numbers! It also makes me crazy when I judge. People try to say "It's a stakes race" and justify their incorrect color. but even the big stakes races are now using the colored cloths. it's much easier for the announcer to call the race correctly!

  6. The average racing saddle looks a bit like a scaled down English saddle with a long seat and very short flap. barrel racing saddles