10 Best Trail Saddles Actually Worth the Money (2024)

Trail riding allows us to explore the world from a vantage point that few people get to experience, and the best trail saddles help us explore comfortably.

There are a few important features all trail saddles should have, including balance, comfort, security, durability, and places for attachments. Features vary between English and western riding disciplines.

We Recommend

trail saddle

Best Trail Saddle
Circle Y Flex2

trail saddle

Best for Long Hours
Tucker Horizon Outpost

trail saddle

Best Gaited Saddle
Circle Y High Horse

Best Trail Saddles

1. Circle Y Omaha Flex2 Trail Saddle 

trail saddle

The best western trail saddle is the Circle Y Omaha Flex2 Trail Saddle.

They pulled out all the bells and whistles on this one to provide a western trail riding saddle that accounts for and accommodates the extra strain on the horse’s back while also keeping the rider completely comfortable.

The tunnel skirt alleviates pressure on the horse’s back, reducing one of the most common complaints on trail saddles.

This innovative saddle has special features to support both horse and rider, including the impact foam seat and the ErgoBalance stirrups that reduce torque and strain on the rider’s knees.

A lot of customization is available in this saddle; take care to order the correct options.

What We Liked 

  • The tunnel skirt keeps the horse’s back free from pressure 
  • Flex2 Tree provides the horse with support and stability – and comes in three sizes
  • The impact foam seat makes it a comfortable trail saddle for the rider too
  • ErgoBalance Stirrups keep your knees from being strained
  • Pretty enough to go into the show ring if needed

What Can Be Improved 

  • Many customizations can make it easier to order the wrong thing 
  • Saddle oil can rub off if it’s not cared for properly
  • Custom orders may have a longer wait time for delivery

Type: Flex Trail Saddle
Weight: 29 lbs
Seat Size: 15’’ to 18’’
Gullet With: 6.5’’ to 8’’

2. Tucker Horizon Outpost Endurance Saddle 

trail saddle

The Tucker Horizon Outpost Endurance Saddle is the best trail saddle for comfort, especially if you’ll be spending long hours on a horse.

This endurance trail saddle is designed for riders spending 25 to 100 miles on the trail in a day, so you know that comfort is intentional. 

The seat is ergonomic and shock-absorbing, stirrups are wide with plenty of traction, and the seat is deep to keep riders secure in the saddle.

Rings are placed throughout to attach items, and there are also strings for riders that prefer them.

The biggest challenge with this saddle is knowing which of the three rigging options to order.

What We Liked 

  • The most comfortable trail saddle because of the advanced tree system
  • As the name implies, Gel-Cush™ improves comfort for the horse and rider in an ergonomic, shock-absorbing seat
  • Wide stirrup tread for balance and traction
  • Rings to attach saddle packs and other items, plus strings too
  • Fits horses well while also relieving pressure points

What Can Be Improved 

  • Three rigging options can be confusing to choose from
  • This isn’t a saddle you could decide to show in, exclusively for trail and pleasure
  • Minimal tooling and no options for different designs

Type: Endurance Saddle
Weight: 25 lbs
Seat Size: 15.5’’ to 18.5”
Gullet With: 6.5’’ to 8’’

3. High Horse by Circle Y El Campo Cordura Gaited Trail Saddle 

trail saddle

Gaited riders need a high horse trail saddle. This saddle was designed to head straight out on the trail and has six seat sizes.

It also comes with a comfortable and grippy seat, a tree designed to give gaited horses more freedom of movement, and adjustable rigging.

It’s lightweight and extremely functional, making it the best trail saddle for gaited horses.  

The High Horse by Circle Y El Campo Cordura Gaited Trail Saddle is not attractive, it’s very workmanlike and functional in appearance, but you’re supposed to ride in it, not look at it.

Those that use the saddle swear by the comfort for them and fit for their gaited horse.

What We Liked 

  • Six different seat sizes mean it’s guaranteed to fit any rider
  • Grain out or suede seat options, both provide extra grip and have extra padding for comfort
  • Gaited tree designed especially for gaited horses and provides freedom of movement
  • Very lightweight thanks in part to rounded skirts and fenders
  • Adjustable rigging allows better fit and security

What Can Be Improved 

  • It’s an unattractive saddle, very workmanlike but not pretty
  • Rides up on some horses and a shim pad is required to keep it in place
  • Walnut and black are the only color options

Type: Gaited Trail Saddle
Weight: 21 lbs
Seat Size: 13’’ to 18’’
Gullet With: 6.5’’ to 8’’

4. Cashel Western Trail Saddle 

trail saddle

Some say that the Cashel Western Trail Saddle is the best western saddle for trail riding because of the balanced ride in the double-padded seat.

Others prefer close contact with their horse because the in-skirt rigging reduces bulk. The extra gear space on the back of the saddle and the 36-inch strings for securing everything help too.

One way this saddle could be improved is with more holes for customizing the stirrup length. But, this feature is only a problem for a small subset of riders.

Otherwise, this remains on the list as the best saddle for trail riding for the many positive attributes it has.

What We Liked 

  • Easily fits wide horses with three options on tree size
  • Ride in it the day it arrives; it doesn’t require a break-in period
  • Fits short-backed horses well because of the short, rounded skirt
  • The double-padded seat is comfortable on all-day trail rides
  • Plenty of space for storing gear on the saddle and long strings for tying on 

What Can Be Improved 

  • Doesn’t always work well on horses with longer backs
  • Extra padding can make the fit slightly off compared to a normal saddle fit
  • Not as many options for stirrup length as some other saddles

Type: Trail Saddle
Weight: 24.5 lbs
Seat Size: 15’’ to 17’’
Gullet With: 6.5 “ to 7.5’’

5. Billy Cook Tipton Trail Saddle 

trail saddle

Another that is consistently called the best trail riding saddle is the Billy Cook Tipton Trail Saddle.

This saddle is absolutely gorgeous with its tooled basket border pattern, rich leather, and smooth, black seat. The high cantle with a Cheyenne roll keeps the rider secure, while the padding in the seat makes it an enjoyable ride. 

This saddle is heavier than some other trail saddles, but that also lends some extra durability.

The advantages outweigh any improvements and leave little doubt as to why this is referred to by many as the best trail saddle. It fits most stock horses with Quarter Horse bars.

What We Liked 

  • This saddle is gorgeous and a work of art, and also as functional as it is pretty
  • High cantle at five inches with a Cheyenne roll to help keep the rider secure
  • Fits shorter or longer-backed horses because the skirt is semi-round
  • The padded seat is cushy and comfortable
  • The tree has Quarter Horse bars, fitting most stock horses

What Can Be Improved 

  • A heavier saddle compared to some of our other favorite trail saddles
  • Very limited seat sizes are available 
  • Some riders are cautious about using it on the trail because it’s so pretty 

Type: Trail Saddle
Weight: 36 lbs
Seat Size: 15.5” to 16’’
Gullet With: 6.5’’ to 8’’

6. Bates Outback Heritage with Swinging Fender CAIR 

trail saddle

Many of us dream of riding in an Australian trail saddle because of the Man From Snowy River movies.

The Bates Outback Heritage with Swinging Fender CAIR is your opportunity to do just that.

This saddle has all the features that have made outback saddles so popular, the poley knee blocks, a lightweight build, comfort, and swinging fenders for flexibility and balance.

The biggest headache you’ll find is trying to figure out what size to order since it looks like an English saddle but measures like a western saddle.

But, once you figure that part out, you’ll be sitting in the sculpted and supportive seat, enjoying the ride.

What We Liked 

  • Swinging fenders give the ride more flexibility and balance on tough terrain
  • The y-girthing system is adjustable to the horse you’re riding
  • Can be used for either trail riding or working around the ranch
  • This is a lightweight trail saddle that eases the horse’s strain over the miles
  • The sculpted seat is very supportive during day-long rides

What Can Be Improved 

  • Seat measurements are confusing, don’t order like its an English trail riding saddle
  • Need to purchase the easy change gullet system for additional fit options
  • Front knee blocks (called poleys) take some getting used to 

Type: Australian Saddle/English Saddle
Weight: 18.7 lbs
Seat Size: 15’’ to 16.5’’
Gullet With: 6.5’’ to 8’’

7. Dakota Western Trail Saddle 

trail saddle

The Dakota Western Trail Saddle is the best budget trail saddle while still being functional and comfortable.

It has a 10-year warranty on the two tree options that allow it to fit most horses.

The rounded skirt and long strings make this a good option on short-backed horses too, while leaving room for a saddle pack or other options.

It does have that annoying leather squeak as you ride, but at least it alerts everyone (including any wildlife) to your presence. This saddle comes with a full flank set and intricate tooling that makes it look attractive in any location.

What We Liked 

  • Fits most horses without any extra padding 
  • Two tree options give riders flexibility on customizing for the best fit for their horse
  • A 10-year warranty offers peace of mind that nothing will go wrong
  • It’s a good trail saddle at an economical price
  • Comes with a full flank set, including a connector strap

What Can Be Improved 

  • Intricate tooling can be challenging to clean
  • Leather does squeak some while you’re riding in the saddle
  • Not as comfortable as some of the other trail saddles on this list

Type: Trail Saddle
Weight: 28 lbs
Seat Size: 15’’ to 17’’
Gullet With: 6.5’’ to 7’’

8. Circle Y Julie Goodnight Monarch Saddle 

trail saddle

Julie Goodnight spends a lot of time trail riding, so it goes without saying that her trail riding saddles are all designed to meet the rider’s needs.

This innovative and advanced saddle design maximizes the comfort and communication for the horse and rider, while also providing the rider with more control.

The impact foam seat doesn’t break down quickly, and the Neo Shock skirts help absorb the impact of rough terrain.

Of course, all this innovative saddle design does come at a higher price point, but spending time comfortably in the saddle makes the price worthwhile.

You can also head right out on the first day the saddle arrives without a break-in period.

What We Liked 

  • Designed by top trail rider Julie Goodnight for control, communication, and comfort
  • Impact foam seat lasts a long time, ensuring comfort for countless miles
  • Softee leather doesn’t require a break-in period
  • A pleasure trail saddle that doesn’t sacrifice comfort or fit
  • Rough terrain is easier to ride through thanks to the Neo Shock skirt

What Can Be Improved 

  • Considered a luxury trail saddle and is more expensive than other options
  • A 15.5-inch seat is the only half-seat size option available
  • Heavier than some of the other trail riding saddles available

Type: Flex Trail Saddle
Weight: 32 lbs
Seat Size: 14’’ to 17’’
Gullet With: 6.5’’ to 8’’

9. Wintec Pro Endurance HART 

trail saddle

The best English saddle for trail riding is the Wintec Pro Endurance HART, which offers the serious endurance rider customizable billets, an air system to evenly distribute the rider’s weight, and customizable thigh support.

This English trail riding saddle is also popular with recreational trail riders who don’t want the bulk of a western saddle.

Reduced bulk also means there isn’t as much security and support as one finds in a stock saddle used for trail riding.

But, the ergonomics of the stirrup bars, performance panels, and comfortable seat have converted many riders from their western tack into the Wintec Pro Endurance HART.

What We Liked 

  • The billets can be customized for your horse by a saddler
  • The Air system evenly distributes the rider’s weight across the horse’s back
  • Built-in and customizable thigh support
  • Ergonomic stirrup bar and Comfort Seat Technology keep the rider comfortable for hours on end
  • The Performance Panel Technology adapts and moves with the horse

What Can Be Improved 

  • Not as much security as a western saddle has
  • Not all riders enjoy riding in synthetic saddles
  • Remember to measure the seat size as an English saddle, not a stock saddle

Type: English Saddle/Endurance Saddle
Weight: 13.2 pounds
Seat Size: 16.5’’ to 18.5’’
Gullet With: 8.3’’ to 10’’

10. Big Horn Excursion II Trail Saddle 

trail saddle

Trail riders that like an English saddle but still want a little more security often turn to the Big Horn Excursion II Trail Saddle.

This is also the best lightweight western trail saddle, and while not the absolute lightest, melds all the features we look for in a trail saddle best.

The stirrups reduce pain associated with long stretches in the saddle, the seat is soft and comfortable, and the tunnel skirt prevents the saddle from slipping too much.

There aren’t many options available on this saddle, with only two seat sizes. The D-ring on the back also allows riders to attach a crupper to prevent the saddle from slipping forward on descents.

What We Liked 

  • Added security with the higher cantle and pommel 
  • Visalia stirrups reduce knee and ankle pain
  • Has a D-ring in place to attach a back crupper if needed
  • No slip saddle fit is built in so you can ride for hours without a slipping saddle
  • The seat is soft and comfortable because it’s made of memory foam

What Can Be Improved 

  • More of a western saddle, the only thing it’s missing is the horn
  • Only two seat sizes are available, the 16-inch and 17-inch
  • Plain, working saddle, it’s not pretty but highly functional

Type: Trail Saddle/Endurance Saddle
Weight: 30 lbs
Seat Size: 16’’ to 17’’
Gullet With: 6’’ to 8’’

How to Choose a Trail Saddle? 

Factors to consider when choosing a trail saddle are fit and comfort for both horse and rider, durability, style, weight, and room for any attachments. 

Horse Fit and Comfort

Trail riding involves spending hours on your horse, and their fit and comfort is the most important factor when choosing a saddle. The bars and gullet should provide freedom of movement and not create any pressure points, while also evenly distributing the rider’s weight. Ideally, trail saddles also allow air movement, further aiding equine comfort.

Rider Comfort

A trail saddle also needs to be comfortable for the rider, or there’s no way that you’ll be able to spend hours sitting on your horse. Look for the correct seat size first, and then a cushy seat that won’t make you sore. Sore knees and ankles are a common complaint, seek a saddle that alleviates pain.

Lightweight yet Durable 

One way to improve the horse’s comfort is by choosing a lightweight saddle. Trail saddles are generally lighter than options from other disciplines. However, it’s important that durability isn’t sacrificed to create a lighter model. Synthetic saddles are one way to reduce weight without losing durability, as are a trimmed-down skirt and fender.

Riding Style 

Some trail riders love their western saddles and will only trail ride in those, other riders prefer the freedom and lighter weight of an English saddle. Either way, there are plenty of choices, so take the time to find a saddle that fits your preferred riding style. Among syles, there are options, including horn and cantle height.

Room for Attachments 

You shouldn’t head out onto the trails for hours on end without a few supplies. Common trail riding accessories are a saddle pack, spare hoof boot, emergency kit, water bottle, and rain jacket. All this needs to be attached to your saddle, so look for space and D-rings and strings on a western saddle to connect it.


What is a trail saddle?

A trail saddle can be English or western and the design accounts for the long hours and varying terrain on the trails.

What saddle is best for trail riding? 

The best saddle for trail riding is one that fits both the horse and rider and is comfortable for them.

What are the most comfortable saddles? 

The most comfortable saddles are those with a seat, stirrups, and flaps that account for the long hours of a trail ride.

Can you rope in a trail saddle? 

You could rope in some western trail saddles, but they are not as efficient as a saddle designed for roping.

Is trail riding hard on horses? 

Horses enjoy trail riding too, and most are sure-footed. It’s not hard if they have a chance to train for it properly.

Is English or Western better for trail riding? 

Both English and Western are good for trail riding, and it’s really a matter of rider preference.

How thick should a saddle pad be for trail riding?

A trail riding saddle pad should be at least 7/8 inches thick.

Do barrel saddles make good trail saddles? 

Barrel saddles can be used for trail riding, but they are not always as comfortable.

Are wider saddles more comfortable? 

Wider saddles can be more comfortable, but only if they fit the horse and rider. Wider saddles are usually in relation to the horse’s back.

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