Australian saddles are becoming increasingly popular as they are lightweight and comfortable but do you know how they are different from the standard English or Western saddle or how they evolved from these standard saddles? The evolution of the Australian saddle is an interesting story and we will explore it's history and how it differs from other types of saddles here.

How Did the Australian Saddle Develop?

Australian saddles were developed by the early settlers who came to Australia from England. They brought with them their horses, saddles and tack but soon found that they were unsuitable for the harsher conditions in Australia. Riders spent long hours in the saddle in a harsh environment and they soon began to make adaptions to their equipment to make them more suitable.

The English saddle was slowly transformed into the Australian saddle that we know today. For long hours riding the saddle needed to be comfortable for both the horse and the rider and it also needed to be easy to girth and lighter in weight. At the same time it had to be tough and durable enough to stand up to this harsh environment and almost continuous use.

Saddles were made more durable and also had other features added such as D rings and bridge staples so that they could carry more gear around with them. The main feature that was developed however was the 'poley' which is associated with Australian saddles so much nowadays that the saddles themselves are often called poleys. A poley is a type of knee pad that was developed to make riding in country with many slopes and inclines safer and more secure.

Another modification was to make the saddle much easier to girth. An easy, but very competent double girthing is used to fasten the saddle on the horse. A leather strap goes over the the saddle's top, known as the over girth, and leather straps called billet straps are sewn to the saddle and buckle straight onto the girth. The horse back rider has the power to girth the saddle much easier which cuts out most of the slipping. There is better safety from the over girth in instances where the billet strap should break.

Australian saddles are also more comfortable for the horse as the saddle is placed more on the shoulders of the horse resulting in less strain on the spine. The rider's weight is spread out much more than with other saddle types so there is less pressure for the horse.

What are Some of The Advantages of the Australian Saddle?

Many people find riding with an Australian saddle more comfortable than with other saddles. There is less strain on the knees so anyone who has problems with their knee joints may prefer to use this type of saddle.

Disadvantages of Australian Saddles

One disadvantage is thet the poleys restrict some of the rider so, for instance, when riding up steep inclines it is not possible to move up in the saddle as may people like to do.


Australian saddles are becoming more popular since they are more lightweight than most of the other types of Western or English saddles, are compact in size and if fitted correctly they are a good fit for most types and sizes of horses.