If you’ve ever ridden horses, you might know a little bit about what saddlebags are. For the newbies, saddlebags are tied to the rear or front of your horse saddle and used to store items. But, you need to make sure that it’s tightly secured so that it doesn’t fall off mid-gallop.
So, how do you tie on saddlebags? Here’s the general process:
- First, find the D rings located on your horse saddle.
- Then, loop the saddlebag straps through the D rings on the saddle and attach the velcro back to your saddlebag.
- For added stability, unhook the straps from the front of your saddlebag and loop it under the rigging of your saddle.
Tying on saddlebags might sound a little complicated right now, but it definitely gets easier with practice. So, let’s go over everything you need to know about tying your saddlebags down.
Why Use a Saddlebag?
Saddlebags are attached to either the front or the rear of your saddle. In most cases, they’re used as small storage pouches to keep important items with you in your travels. The most important thing you need to keep in mind is not to overpack.
So, what should you be putting in your saddlebag?
You only need to store important stuff in your saddlebag. Here’s a look at what you might want to bring with you on your next journey:
- Bottle of water
- Basic medical supplies or a first aid kit
- Matches and a lighter
- Pocket knife
- Carabiners (in case your straps fail)
- Rain gear
Just remember that the lighter you pack, the smoother and quicker your travel will be. Plus, your horse won’t get nearly as tired from the extra weight.
Search For the D Rings
The D rings on your saddle are most important when it comes to tying your saddlebags and keeping them secure while you’re riding. These are small D-shaped rings that you can find on several areas of your saddle. For an English-style saddle, you’ll find them at the front. You might also find a few D rings toward the rear of your saddle as well.
But, you don’t have to only use the small D rings of your saddle to secure your saddlebags. You can also use the cinch rings found on the lower area of your saddle or the hole in the pommel portion of the saddle. You’re just looking for any secure attachment site on your saddle.
You can always get a little creative when it comes to attaching your saddlebags. If you can find a D ring on the front or rear of your saddle and similar loop on your saddlebag, you’re as good as gold. You can actually use a carabiner of sorts to hook the saddlebag to your saddle. In the past, I have used these awesome Nite Ize Carabiners. They are super easy to put on and have a locking feature that ensures your gear stays where you want it.
The purpose of the carabiner is easy attachment and removal. Instead of having to unhook the buckle or detach the velcro, simply squeeze the carabiner and remove the saddlebag. Keep in mind that this won’t work for all types of saddles. Also, your saddlebag might flop around and bounce since you can’t tighten the carabiner.
Securing the Straps
How you actually secure the saddlebags will depend on the style of saddlebags that you own and the saddle you’re using.
For example, some saddlebags have velcro straps. You can detach the end of the velcro strap from the saddlebag and then hook it through the loop of the D ring. Return the velcro portion to your saddlebag and latch it on. The tighter the velcro strap is pulled, the more secure your saddlebag will be.
When it comes to a pommel style saddle, your attachment might be a little different. Simply unhook the strap from the saddlebag and hook it under the pommel portion of your saddle. Slip the end of the strap back through the buckle and give it a firm tug to tighten it.
There’s also the chance that your saddlebag offers a basic leather strap instead. That means you’ll actually have to tie the saddlebag with a basic knot by looping the strap through the D ring. But, this style is quite outdated, and you probably won’t see this type of strap on your saddlebag.
Adding Extra Security
If you’re looking for a little more security from your saddlebags, there are additional things you can do to keep them tied down even further. Once again, how you do this will depend on the bags and the saddle that you’re using.
Most saddlebags will come with additional straps that you can use for added security. These extra straps will usually be at the front of the bag, so that’s where you should be looking here.
The first thing you need to do is unhook the strap from the front of the bag so that it’s at its full length. Then, you’ll do one of the following:
- Hook it through the rigging. Lift up the flap on the side of your saddle to reveal the rigging of the saddle. Take this extra strap, hook it beneath and around one of the further riggings, and then return the end of the strap to the tightened buckle. Tighten it for extra security.
- Loop it through the cinch ring. The cinch ring is a large D ring that’s found at the side of the saddle. Unhook the strap from the front of the saddlebag and bring it to its full extension. Loop it through the cinch ring and then hook it back through the buckle. Give it a tug and tighten it.
There’s nothing that says that you need to add this extra security, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. There’s no such thing as “too secure” when it comes to your saddlebags. It’s much better than them flying off mid-gallop.
Trying It Out
Even if you followed the directions exactly, there’s still a chance that the saddlebags aren’t as secure as you thought they were. Take a short ride on your horse to see if the bag droops or bounces around as you begin to walk. If it does, you might need to tighten each of the straps a little further. Not only is a loose saddlebag annoying for you, but it can be uncomfortable for your beloved horse.
Choosing a Saddlebag
Now that you see how saddlebags are actually tied down, you want to choose a product that’s user-friendly for beginners.
For the most part, the easiest saddlebag option would be velcro attachments. Velcro doesn’t require you to reattach the strap through a buckle. Just slip it through the D ring and stick it to your saddlebag.
The next easiest option would be the regular buckle style. These take a little longer to apply, but you still don’t have to tie or detangle any fancy knots. Plus, you can easily tighten them without having to detach any type of velcro.
Avoid latigo straps if you can. They’re just extra work and take a lot of time to learn when it comes to tying.
The good news is that a lot of modern saddlebags are very easy to tie on. For the most part, you’ll simply have to lengthen the strap on the saddlebag, hook it under a D ring, cinch ring, rigging, or the pommel, and then hook it back up to the buckle. For regular latigo saddlebags, you’ll need to simply tie a basic knot through the D ring.
If you want to keep your saddlebag extra secure while you’re riding, you should also attach the extra straps to the saddle for added stability.
- YouTube: 0:05 / 5:00 How To Attach Easycare Stowaway Saddlebags
- Mom.Me: HOW TO TIE A SADDLE BAG ON A HORSE
- Horse Forum: Saddle Bags and how to tie — Need some feedback soon please
- Wikipedia: Saddlebag
- Mountain Ridge Gear: Horse Packing Tips: How to Pack Saddlebags Without Hurting Your Animals
- Western Horseman: SADDLEBAG CHECKLIST