Ensuring that the stitching, the condition of the leather, the size, the fit of the saddle and its comfort level for the rider and the horse are acceptable are all things to consider when purchasing a used Western saddle. Taking an experienced party along during the buying process is also advisable.
Used Western saddles inevitably sustain a certain degree of wear and tear. Frayed stitching and a fractured saddle tree are telltale signs. It is possible to have a used saddle stitched anew, but there are related costs.
The condition of the leather may point to a substandard or worn-out saddle. Cracks in the leather occasionally mean dry rot or worse, such as a fractured saddle tree. Although a fractured saddle tree does not render a saddle useless, it is potentially uncomfortable for the horse. Grabbing the pommel and the cantle helps to gauge saddle tree breakage. Too much movement indicates structural damage.
This is not the case with all saddles, some of which have a flexible tree made of wood or plastic. The cinch bar on a Western saddle should be intact and devoid of excessive wear. The saddle should also be large enough to accommodate a particular horse's withers and its shape. A saddle that is unsuitable for a certain horse's silhouette is unsuitable for all similar types. Some saddles are more appropriate for certain horse types. Smaller Western saddles, for instance, generally fit Quarter Horses.