If you’re new to horseback riding, it’s important to know the basics of horse tack. Here are some pieces of essential horse tack that every novice rider should own.
There are thousands of different products on the market to help you ride, train or look after your horse, from personalised saddlecloths to equipment for foals. So can you expect to find in the average equine wardrobe?
What is horse tack?
Tack is the essential horse riding equipment that is used when riding a horse. It includes items such as the bridle, bit, and reins, which are used to control the horse; the saddle, which provides a comfortable seat for the rider; and the stirrups, which help the rider stay mounted. In addition to these basic items, riders may also use additional tack such as spurs or whips to cue the horse.
Tack is available in a wide variety of styles, depending on the type of riding that will be done. For example, English tack is typically used for dressage or show jumping, while Western tack is often used for horseback riding on trails or in rodeos. Whatever the style of tack, it is important to make sure that it is fitted properly to the horse and rider to ensure a safe and comfortable ride.
Tack accessories are all the peripheral pieces of riding equipment that can add to the usability of tack or that are optional extras that add a distinctive flair e.g. colour and design
Saddles come in a range of styles, from Western to General Purpose, and are all designed to spread the weight of the rider safely and comfortably over the horse’s back. They’re secured with a strap called a girth that passes under the horse’s belly and has stirrups on either side to allow the rider to mount and sit in a balanced manner.
In addition to a basic saddle and bridle, an individual horse might also wear a breastplate (to stop the saddle from slipping backwards), a numnah or saddlecloth (a cloth that fits below the saddle, and protects both the horse’s back and the saddle itself) or a martingale (a strap that attaches to the girth and reins to stop the horse flinging its head up). This might be a standing martingale, a running martingale, or an Irish martingale.
In addition to the saddle itself, there are various optional saddle accessories e.g. saddle pads.
Horse rugs come in three main categories – outdoor, stable and ‘other’. Outdoor rugs are officially known as New Zealand rugs and are made from strong, waterproof fabric to keep the horse warm and dry whilst in the field.
Stable rugs are warm and padded and designed to be worn indoors only. Rugs in the ‘other’ category include specialist rugs for travelling, drying sweat, keeping flies off and providing warmth during exercise.
The grooming kit contains the brushes, lotions and combs needed to keep your horse clean and healthy. Grooming is an important everyday activity, as it not only keeps your horse looking nice but also allows you to check regularly for lumps, bumps and other problems.
Basic grooming tools include brushes for removing sweat and mud, combs for removing hair from the horse’s winter coat or the brushes themselves, and a hoof pick to remove dirt and stones from feet. There are also many grooming products available for conditioning feet, shampooing coats or de-tangling manes and tails.
Boots and Bandages
As horses are heavy animals, each leg carries a lot of weight. This means that horses can be subject to leg problems, particularly if they do a lot of fast work or jumping. Many horse owners use protective boots or bandages on their mounts to provide more support.
These range from conventional bandages, which cover the whole of the horse’s lower leg between the knee and the fetlock, to brushing boots, which fasten round the leg with straps or Velcro. Both boots and bandages help support the tendons, and also help prevent the animal from knocking itself.
Every equine discipline has its range of specialist equipment, such as dressage saddles, jumping studs or Western reins. There are also many items available for specific uses, such as lunging equipment for working your horse from the ground, surcingles to help secure rugs and orthopaedic pads for saddles.
Most horse equipment, especially rugs, is subject to a lot of wear, so always buy the best quality that you can afford. Good quality, second-hand equipment is readily available online and from private advertisements, and many tack shops have an in-house repair service for torn rugs or broken tack.
A saddle is a basic necessity for riding a horse. It is designed to distribute the weight of the rider safely and comfortably over the horse’s back. In addition to a saddle, bridle, and girth, other necessary items include a breastplate, numnah or saddlecloth, martingale, and rug.
Grooming equipment, including brushes, combs, and a hoof pick, is also necessary for the everyday care of the horse. Protective boots and bandages are important for preventing injury to the horse’s legs. Finally, there are many items of specialist tack required for different disciplines, such as dressage saddles and jumping studs.
- Saddles: There are a variety of different saddles available, including dressage saddles, jumping saddles, and Western saddles. Each type of saddle is designed for a specific purpose.
- Bridles: A bridle includes a bit and reins and is used to guide the horse. There are many different types of bridles, including English bridles, Western bridles, and driving bridles.
- Horseshoes: Horse shoes are used to protect the hooves of the horse. There are a variety of different horseshoe designs, including front shoes, hind shoes, racing shoes, and more.
- Spurs: Spurs are used to encourage the horse to move faster or to make it more responsive to the rider’s commands.