Best Saddle for Shetland Pony: Expert Guide & Top Choices

Looking for the best saddle for your Shetland pony? Look no further! In this expert guide, we’ll go over the top choices and everything you need to know to find the best saddle for your furry friend. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or a beginner, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s dive in and find the best saddle for your Shetland pony!

Understanding Shetland Ponies

A lone Shetland Pony grazes on tall dry grass

Breed Characteristics

Shetland ponies are a hardy and versatile breed that originated in the Shetland Islands, located off the northern coast of Scotland. They evolved in harsh conditions, making them incredibly resilient and adaptable. The breed is known for its intelligence, loyalty, and friendly disposition. Shetland ponies come in an assortment of colors and exhibit long, thick manes and tails, providing protection from the harsh weather conditions of their native habitat.

Conformation and Size

The conformation of a Shetland pony is compact and well-balanced, with a short, broad head and widely-spaced eyes. Their neck is muscular and proportional to their body, while their back is short, strong, and slightly arched. The breed’s legs are short and sturdy, with well-defined joints and strong, rounded hooves. A Shetland pony’s height ranges from 28 to 42 inches tall at the withers, making them one of the smallest horse breeds.

When it comes to selecting a saddle for a Shetland pony, it’s crucial to consider their unique conformation. A properly fitted saddle should take into account the shape of the saddle tree, ensuring that it matches the angle of the pony’s shoulder to allow for unimpeded shoulder rotation. The width setting of the saddle is also a key factor in ensuring a comfortable and secure fit, keeping in mind the pony’s relatively smaller size.


Shetland ponies excel in various disciplines, making them an excellent choice for riders of all skill levels. Some of the most popular disciplines for Shetland ponies include:

  • Driving: Due to their strength and endurance, Shetland ponies are often used for driving, both competitively and recreationally. They can be trained to pull carts, carriages, and other small vehicles with ease and grace.
  • Pleasure riding: Despite their small stature, Shetland ponies can be ridden by children or lightweight adults for leisurely trail rides and pleasure riding. Their willingness to please and gentle nature makes them ideal for this activity.
  • Showing: Shetland ponies are popular in the show world, where they can compete in various classes such as conformation, driving, and performance events. Their eye-catching appearance and captivating presence make them a crowd favorite.
  • Therapeutic riding: Due to their gentle temperament and sturdy build, Shetland ponies are often used in therapeutic riding programs, providing physical, emotional, and social benefits to individuals with special needs.

In conclusion, understanding the Shetland pony’s breed characteristics, conformation, size, and disciplines is essential for selecting the best saddle for them. By considering these factors, riders can ensure a comfortable, secure, and enjoyable experience for both themselves and their Shetland pony.

Types of Saddles for Shetland Ponies

Two shetland ponies standing over grass and yellow flowers

Western Saddle

A popular saddle option for Shetland ponies is the Western saddle. These saddles are typically made from leather or synthetic materials, offering durability and comfort for both the rider and the pony. Key features of a Western saddle for Shetland ponies include a reinforced fiberglass tree covered in rawhide, a non-adjustable gullet that typically measures around 6.5 inches, and Semi quarter Horse bars. This type of saddle is designed similar to adult Western saddles, ensuring a comfortable and secure fit for both child and adult riders.

Bareback Pad

For a closer connection to their Shetland pony, riders may opt for a bareback pad. These pads are designed to provide a minimal barrier between the rider and the pony, offering a natural feel and increased balance. Bareback pads are typically made from synthetic materials such as foam or neoprene and may include stirrup attachments for added security. Riding with a bareback pad can be a fun and comfortable way for riders to bond with their Shetland pony, while also improving their riding skills.

Mini Horse Saddles

Another option for Shetland pony riders is mini horse saddles. These saddles are specifically designed to fit smaller horse breeds like Shetland ponies and are available in various styles such as Western, English, and Australian. Mini horse saddles are crafted from leather or synthetic materials, often featuring adjustable components to ensure a customized fit for each pony. Common sizes for these saddles range from 7 to 12 inches, making them ideal for younger riders or anyone looking for a size-appropriate saddle for their Shetland pony.

When selecting a saddle for a Shetland pony, it is essential to consider the intended use, rider’s preferences, and desired comfort level. By exploring the different saddle options such as Western saddles, bareback pads, and mini horse saddles, riders can make an informed decision and find the perfect fit for both themselves and their beloved Shetland pony.

Selecting the Right Saddle

Minature shetland pony with hair falling over eyes

When choosing the best saddle for a Shetland pony, there are several factors to consider to ensure both the horse and rider are comfortable and well-supported during their equestrian activities. In this section, we will discuss the horse’s comfort, rider’s comfort, and saddle adjustability.

Horse’s Comfort

Shetland ponies, being smaller and having a different conformation than larger ponies, have specific needs when it comes to saddle fit. The saddle must be able to accommodate their unique structure, including their withers and strength. To ensure optimal comfort, it is essential to select a saddle that distributes weight evenly across the pony’s back and fits well in the wither area.

Synthetic materials, such as those found in the Kincade Redi-Ride, are a popular choice for Shetland pony saddles, as they are low-maintenance and do not require oiling. Additionally, these materials are available in various colors, making them a visually appealing option.

Rider’s Comfort

For young riders, it is crucial to select a saddle that helps them establish correct seat posture from an early age. This is why child-sized pony saddles are commonly recommended for Shetland ponies, as they cater specifically to the smaller frames of these animals, ensuring a comfortable and secure fit for the rider. Examples of such saddles can be found on Star Lake Farm.

Consider the padding provided by the saddle, as well as its shape and contour, ensuring it offers adequate support for a child’s body. It is essential for the rider to feel secure and confident during their time in the saddle, leading to improved riding performance.

Saddle Adjustability

As Shetland ponies can vary in size and shape, it is crucial to find a saddle with a degree of adjustability to accommodate these differences. This ensures it fits the pony’s unique conformation and can be adjusted as the pony grows. Look for features like adjustable gullets, removable knee rolls or thigh blocks, and adjustable stirrup bars to provide customizable support for both the horse and rider.

In summary, selecting the right saddle for a Shetland pony involves considering a variety of factors to ensure a comfortable, secure, and adjustable fit. By evaluating these aspects, you can find the best saddle option for both the Shetland pony and its rider, leading to a more enjoyable and successful riding experience.

Purchasing a Saddle

Side view head shot of a Shetland pony ready for riding

When looking to purchase a saddle for a Shetland pony, it’s essential to consider different factors like size, fit, and the riding style. In this section, we’ll discuss popular shops, discoveries on Etsy, and essential accessories for your Shetland pony saddle.

Popular Shops

Several equestrian stores provide a variety of saddles designed specifically for Shetland ponies. Among these, BarkSpace offers the King Series Synthetic Pony Saddle – a rawhide-covered, fiberglass-reinforced saddle with a 6.5-inch gullet and semi quarter horse bars. MHS Equestrian is another store offering a wide selection of saddles particularly designed for small horses.

Etsy Finds

Etsy is a fantastic platform to discover unique and handcrafted saddles for your Shetland pony. Independent artisans sell custom-made saddles featuring various materials, colors, and designs. Buying a saddle on Etsy allows you to support small businesses while also getting a one-of-a-kind piece tailored to your pony’s needs.


A well-fitted saddle is only the beginning; several complementary accessories enhance your riding experience and cater to your pony’s comfort. Accessories worth considering include:

  • Saddlepads and Half Pads: These provide additional cushioning and support, relieving pressure points on your pony’s back.
  • Stirrup Leathers and Girths: Quality stirrup leathers and adjustable girths ensure a snug and secure fit for both the rider and the pony.
  • Bridles and Headcollars: To facilitate communication and control, invest in a well-made bridle and headcollar designed specifically for Shetland ponies’ size and temperament.

Remember, when purchasing tack and accessories for your Shetland pony, always prioritize their comfort and well-being. Conduct thorough research and consult equestrian experts to guide your decision-making, ensuring a safe and enjoyable riding experience for both you and your pony.

Helpful Resources

When searching for the best saddle for Shetland pony, several resources may be beneficial to provide relevant and accurate information.

Online Forums

One reliable source of information and user experiences is online forums where Shetland pony owners share their experiences and opinions on various saddles. For example, the Horse and Hound Forum discusses saddle options, such as the Cub saddle, which offers a wide range of fitting options and is adjustable for comfort. Heed their advice on which saddles will best fit a Shetland pony and provide the most security and comfort for young riders.

Newsletters and Subscriptions

Signing up for newsletters and subscriptions related to Shetland ponies can provide valuable information on saddles, accessories, and pony care in general. Most newsletters require an email address and might include a captcha to ensure you’re human.

By subscribing to these publications, you can stay up-to-date with the latest saddle designs, important news, and trends in Shetland pony care. Some newsletters may even provide discounts on saddles and related accessories.

One saddle option mentioned in numerous resources is the KINCADE Redi-Ride Childs Pony Saddle, which is a child-sized saddle designed for low maintenance and helping children establish correct seat posture from an early age.

Another helpful resource to consider is the Shetland Pony Club, which provides information on different types of saddles for Shetland ponies, as well as accompanying equipment like saddle pads.

Some key factors to consider when selecting a Shetland pony saddle include the pony’s size and weight, the rider’s skill level, and the intended use of the pony (riding or cart pulling).

In conclusion, finding the best saddle for a Shetland pony involves a combination of research, recommendations from experienced pony owners, and utilizing available resources like online forums, newsletters, and subscriptions.

Caring for the Saddle

Shetland Pony standing on a barren patch of land

When it comes to caring for the saddle of your Shetland pony, there are essential steps to ensure its longevity and maintain its optimal condition. In this section, we will discuss cleaning and storage, maintenance, and potential upgrades for your saddle.

Cleaning and Storage

To preserve the quality of your Shetland pony’s saddle, regular cleaning is crucial. Start by gently removing dirt and debris using a soft brush, then proceed to wipe it down with a damp cloth. Next, apply saddle soap in circular motions with a sponge, covering the entire surface. Rinse the sponge in water, squeeze out excess liquid, and wipe the saddle to remove soap residue. Allow the saddle to air dry in a well-ventilated area, avoiding direct sunlight to prevent damage to the materials.

Proper storage also plays a significant role in preserving your saddle. Use a saddle rack to keep it off the ground and maintain its shape. Cover the saddle with a breathable dust cover and store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.


Routine maintenance of your Shetland pony’s saddle extends its lifespan and ensures the safety of the rider. Periodically inspect the saddle for signs of wear and tear, paying close attention to the stitching, billets, and associated tack. If you notice any damage or fraying, take the saddle to a professional for repairs.

It is also essential to keep the metal hardware, such as buckles and D-rings, clean and free from rust. Use a soft brush and damp cloth to remove dirt and debris, then apply a metal cleaner or polish if necessary.


As your Shetland pony grows or your riding skills progress, you may want to upgrade your saddle and tack to better suit your needs. One option for upgrades is investing in a Kincade Redi-Ride saddle, which is specifically designed for children to establish correct seat posture from an early age. Made from synthetic materials, this saddle is low-maintenance and does not require oiling.

Another upgrade to consider is enhancing the saddle’s comfort and functionality by adding a saddle pad designed for Shetland ponies. These pads come in various materials, colors, and designs, allowing you to personalize your pony’s appearance and provide additional cushioning during rides.

Additionally, you may consider upgrading the associated tack, such as bridles, reins, and girths, for improved fit, comfort, and functionality. Look for high-quality materials and craftsmanship to ensure these upgrades last and enhance your riding experience.

Best Saddle for Shetland Pony

Beautiful Gray Shetland pony

Shetland ponies are small, versatile, and charming creatures. They have been used for various purposes over the years, from mining work to tourism attractions. When selecting the ideal saddle for your Shetland pony, there are a few factors to consider to ensure a comfortable and functional fit.

First, it’s essential to choose a saddle specifically designed for a Shetland pony. The Kincade Redi-Ride Child’s Pony Saddle is an excellent option for teaching children to ride and tack their ponies. It’s a low-maintenance saddle designed for establishing correct seat posture from an early age. This child-sized pony saddle helps young riders learn the skills necessary to care for their tack and supplies.

Another saddle option to consider for your Shetland pony is the Cub saddle. As mentioned on a Horse and Hound Forum thread, the Cub saddle fits a wide range of ponies and assists young riders in maintaining the proper position. The adjustable design, with pads on the underside for varying widths, ensures a secure fit, and the grab handle provides added security for beginner riders.

When selecting a compatible saddle, it’s also crucial to consider the other equipment needed to keep the saddle in place and create a comfortable and safe riding experience for both the rider and the pony. Shetland Pony Club explores the different types of saddles they use for their Shetland ponies and offers insights into the crucial saddle components, including stirrups and girths.


Choosing the right saddle for your Shetland pony is essential for creating a safe and enjoyable riding experience for young riders. The Kincade Redi-Ride and Cub saddles are two popular options designed specifically for Shetland ponies’ unique size and structure. Ensure that the saddle is adjustable to fit the pony correctly and use proper equipment, such as stirrups and girths, to provide a secure and comfortable ride. In doing so, both the rider and the Shetland pony will have a positive and rewarding experience.