Measuring Australian Saddle Seat
Australian saddles are a unique style of saddle. People will try to relate them to English or Western saddles but they are their own type. This can make it confusing when a rider wants to try an Australian saddle but doesn't know where to start. As I did research to learn more about Australian saddles it became clear that there isn't a completely standard way, but there is a bit of common ground.
Australian saddles are designed for the Aussie Stockman or Cowboy. When England colonized Australia in the 1700's they originally brought their standard English tack, however they needed to evolve to a better working tack set up for long hours in the saddle. They developed a saddle that was made with tougher leather to hold up to a harsher environment, and more fittings to carry more gear. What really sets Australian saddles apart from other styles is the poleys or kneepads at the front of the saddle. They help to keep the rider secure while riding in mountainous terrain.
The saddle I have in this Tack Tip Tuesday is a Syd Hills and Sons. When researching the brand, they had their own photo on how to measure their saddles. To measure their seat you go from the front stitching to the inside rise of the cantle, you also measure the depth of the seat going straight down. This way to measure appears consistent between most brands. However, a few out there measure the airspace between the seat.
Now how we translate that seat measurement I did find varies.
For example from Darkhorse Saddlery"
English Western Australian
15" 13" 15"
16" 14" 16"
17" 15" 17"
18" 16" 18"
19" 17" 19"
"Measure your saddle from the front of the gullet, to the back of the seat to get the proper seat measurement. If you normally ride in a 17" english saddle, then you need a 17" Australian saddle. If you normally ride in a 15" western saddle, then you ride in an Australian seat two inches larger, usually a 17" seat. Some riders like more room in their seat, or between their thigh and the saddle poleys, and will choose one size larger than normal. Having a larger seat size will allow you to post in your saddle if you tend to post or stand in your stirrups. Some riders like the poleys right against their thigh, and will choose a snug fit. The poleys will usually prevent a rider from posting to full extension if the seat is fitted properly. This is personal preference; a close fit will help hold you in the saddle, a looser fit will allow you to stand in your stirrups or post."
Compared too Down Under Saddle Supply which goes by:
Australian saddles might be right for you if you are looking for a saddle that feels secure like a Western saddle but without the weight. If you are interested in learning more, I recommend researching and finding a good quality brand that will teach you how to fit and measure both you and your horse.