The Australian stock saddle combines elements of both English and Western saddles to make a comfortable and lightweight saddle with many safety features useful for a trail or endurance rider.
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When British settlers arrived in Australia in 1788, they began changing the design of their English saddles to fit the harsh environment of the Australian outback. Long hours in the saddle and rough terrain meant that saddles needed to be comfortable for both horse and rider, sturdy enough to withstand rough use and functional. These riders used their new saddles primarily for tending to livestock, which is where the Australian stock saddle gets its name. According to InfoHorse.com, this style of saddle became popular in the United States in 1982 when the movie "The Man From Snowy River" was released. The movie is set in Australia and features riders in this type of saddle.
Two features are unique to the Australian stock saddle: poleys and the double girthing system. Poleys are knee pads, sometimes up to six inches deep, situated on the outer flap of the saddle parallel to the rider's thigh. They provide extra security for the rider, preventing him from being thrown forward if his horse suddenly stops, stumbles or spooks. The double girthing system adds extra protection against the saddle falling. In addition to the billet straps which the girth attaches to, the Australian stock saddle has an overgirth that runs across the top of the saddle and also buckles to the regular girth, providing security in case a billet strap breaks.
In addition to the poleys and the overgirth, the Australian stock saddle has many features designed with safety and comfort in mind. The Australian Stock Saddle Company describes it as "a big dressage saddle," with a deep seat somewhere in between the forward seat position of an English saddle and the rear-weighted seat position of a Western saddle and stirrups that hang in a dressage position. The stirrup bar, which connects the stirrup leathers to the saddle, is open, allowing the stirrup leathers to slide off if the rider falls. Some saddles have two different stirrup bar positions for more adjustability. The saddle is lighter and more compact than a Western saddle, which is more comfortable for the horse and provides a closer contact between rider and horse for more control.
Saddle size is measured in inches from the front of the seat to the back. Australian stock saddles can be found in sizes from 14" to 22", which should accommodate riders from 22.7 to 159 Kilogram. They are also available in several different widths for both horse and rider.
Australian stock saddles are used for trail and endurance riding. Because they are lightweight, comfortable and safe, Down Under Saddle Supply calls the Australian stock saddle the "Ultimate Trail Saddle."
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