Horse Tack: Saddles
Generally, most owners will only ever purchase one saddle.
Although there are many specialist saddles available for
activities such as show jumping and dressage, very few riders
reach such high levels of competition, where they can justify the
purchase of additional specialist equipment.
Whether you prefer Western or English style riding, a good
quality saddle that fits both horse and rider is a worthwhile
Western saddles have a large pommel and are generally considered
to be most comfortable for long hours in the saddle. They also
support a more relaxed and "behind the motion" position.
English saddles, in contrast, encourage the rider to sit in a
central position and are suitable for all disciplines, including
jumping. Saddle pads are often placed under the saddle, for added
padding for the horse and to prevent dirt from building up on the
Horse Tack: Bridles
There is a multitude of varieties of bits and nosebands,
headstalls and reins available on the market today. As a general
rule, ride a horse in the lightest bit possible, preferably, a
snaffle. Riders often try to deal with a strong horse by using an
even stronger bit. This is rarely successful and simply results
in both rider and horse getting into a tug-of-war situation.
Remember: horses are stronger than humans! Achieving submission
by gaining the horse's respect and trust is far more important
and practical. This is much easier to accomplish when you are not
involved in a battle of strength (or wits)!
Trying to make sense of your horse's behavior? Visit Horse
Behavior to learn more about the relationship between horse and
rider, equine communication and dealing with and understanding
common behavioral issues.
For show purposes and in the case of particularly strong horses
that may just need a quick reminder, it is best to use a double
bridle. This involves the use of two bits, each controlled by a
separate rein. An experienced rider is able to use varying
degrees of pressure on each individual bit, in order to maintain
obedience, without being heavy handed. This methodology is
usually reserved for English disciplines.
Horse Tack: Accessories
Horse blankets or sheets may be necessary depending on your
horse's lifestyle. These come in several different styles from
thick, warm blankets that help prevent a winter coat from growing
to waterproof blankets to sheets that help keep the coat
clean—especially handy when traveling to shows.
Martingales are optional extras that can be used either to ensure
that a horse does not raise his head too high, or as a strap for
more inexperienced riders to hold onto. Martingales prevent the
latter from hanging on to the reins for support.
Riders, particularly when jumping, often like to protect their
horse's legs with boots or bandages. Any boots or bandages must
be firmly fixed and properly applied. The key is to provide
support, not to restrict movement.
Three Safety Essentials for the Rider
1. A hard hat that is of a suitable standard
2. Gloves, to aid grip on the reins and to prevent rubbing
3. Boots or shoes with a slight heel, to prevent the feet from
slipping through the stirrups and the rider being dragged, in the
event of a fall.
Dress for competition is far more complicated as are the
etiquette requirements for your particular sport. The
requirements should be investigated with the relevant authority.
Find out more about equestrian sports, their tack requirements
and rider dress codes at Riding for Sport.
Horse Tack & Equipment Basics
The basic equipment required for keeping a horse very much
depends upon your chosen routine and preferences. As a general
rule, however, all owners need the following:
• a grooming kit, including a selection of brushes, a hoof pick,
a sweat scraper, a mane and tail comb, as well as a few sponges
• a first aid kit including basic medical provisions
• a head collar or halter and lead rope for restraining, when not
• suitable rugs or blankets.
The list of equipment available for both horse and rider appears
endless and in actual fact, far exceeds the requirements of the
vast majority of horse owners and riders. It is generally
advisable to purchase the necessary saddle.
equipment and add to your collection, as it is required, or can
You will be surprised at how quickly you build up an impressive
array of equipment!