Western saddles are used for western riding and are the saddles. They are also used on cattle ranches and working horses through out the United States, particularly in the west. They are the "cowboy" saddles familiar to rodeo fans, movie viewers, and those who have gone on trail rides at guest ranches.
This saddle was designed to provide comfort and security to the rider, especially when the rider is spending long hours on a horse, traveling over rugged terrain. The design of the Western saddle derives from the saddles of the Spanish vaqueros - the early horse trainers and cattle handlers of the American Southwest and Mexico. It was developed for the purpose of working cattle across vast areas, and also came from a combination of the saddles used in the two main styles of horseback riding then practiced in Spain — la jineta, the Moorish style which allowed great freedom of movement to the horse; and la estradiota, later la brida, also known as the jousting style, which provided excellent security to the rider and strong control of the horse. A very functional item was added: the saddle "horn." This style of saddle allowed vaqueros to control cattle by use of a rope around the neck of the animal, tied or dallied (wrapped without a knot) around the horn.
Today, although many Western riders have never roped cattle, the western saddle still features this historical element. Some variations on the Western saddle design, such as those used in endurance riding, bronc riding, and those made for the rapidly growing European market, do not always have horns. The Spanish tree saddle is another predecessor which may have contributed to the design of the Western saddle, which was influential in the design of the McClellan saddle of the American military. The Western saddle is being used by all branches of the U.S. Army, particularly associated with the cavalry.
The Western saddle is designed to be comfortable when ridden in for many hours. Its purpose and history is to be a working tool for a cowboy who spends all day, every day, on horseback. The western saddle may give the impression of providing for a more secure seat for a beginning rider. However, this may be misleading; the heavy stirrups and high cantle aren’t for focing the rider into a rigid position, nor is the horn meant to be a handle for the rider to hang onto.