All You Really Need To Know About Horse Tack Basics

January 10, 2023 3 min read

All You Really Need To Know About Horse Tack Basics

For many horse lovers, simply owning a horse isn’t enough—teaming up with these majestic creatures in an equestrian sport is where the real fun begins. As every horse trainer will tell you, the thrill of working in harmonious coordination with your steed is an incredible rush, and it’s something that you’ll be seeking out for as long as you can ride. In order to do it safely, however, you’ll need the right equipment; using high-quality horse tack sets is essential in keeping yourself and your horse in perfect health.

There is, however, an enormous amount of horse tack for sale these days, and putting together a good horse tack list can be pretty intimidating for beginners. Where do you even begin?

In this horse tack guide, you’ll learn about the basics of horse tack. We’ll be focusing on the following pieces that you’ll need to get started:

This guide is meant to be a very basic introduction to the wide world of horse tack. Reading it will help point you in the right direction when it comes to choosing the right tack for your horse, but it won’t be able to help you instantly put together the perfect horse tack list. Use the knowledge in this horse tack guide to come up with a basic list of equipment, and then consult a seller you trust about which specific items best match your needs.

It’s also best to consult your horse trainer about the fit of each piece of tack. Since every horse’s body is unique, you’ll need to make sure that every piece of tack you buy fits them correctly in order to avoid any physical issues that come from poorly fitting gear.

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The time has come for you to saddle-up for your first ride!

 

Saddle

Saddles are the foundation of all horse tack sets. They don’t just make you more comfortable on horseback; they also help you balance while riding. Knowing what saddle type you’ll need, however, depends on the type of equestrian sport you’re interested in joining. 

There are two basic types of saddle: Western and English, which coincide with their respective riding data-styles. Western saddles are generally larger and more suited for Western-data-style riding, which involves keeping just one hand on the reins. These saddles are typically used for sports like Polo, Horsemanship, and rodeo events. 

English saddles are much smaller and lightweight, letting you feel more of your horse’s movements underneath your seat. They’re used for English riding, which has people riding horses with both hands on the reins and focuses more on finer, more technical movements. You’ll need English saddles for events like Dressage, Show Jumping, and Eventing.

There are other, more specialized types of saddles in the market, but beginners will do just fine between these two basic types.

 

Saddle Pad

Some folks might think this piece of tack isn’t “essential” per se, but that’s a misconception—after all, you wouldn’t ride a car without a shock absorber, would you? Saddle pads create a soft cushion between the saddle and your horse’s back, creating a much more comfortable ride for you both. 

The benefit of using saddle pads goes far beyond comfort, too. By reducing the impact riding has on your horse’s back, they help prevent long-term injury and chronic pain that may develop over years of regular activity. They also help you maintain better balance on your horse by minimizing your saddle’s movement while you’re riding. For these reasons, saddle pads are, in fact, an essential part of all horse tack sets.

There are two major considerations you have to keep in mind when picking a saddle pad: fit and material. A properly fitted saddle pad will maximize all the benefits of using one, while avoiding skin issues like chafing. A pad made of material specially designed to absorb the shock of riding, such as a  gel pad, will give you and your horse the smoothest possible ride. 

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Consult with an expert to ensure that your horse is getting the proper tack for them!

 

Bridle

The bridle is a piece of tack composed of several smaller pieces that work together to help you communicate instructions to your horse. Like saddles, bridles are categorized according to riding data-style: Western or English. Western bridles are normally secured to your horse’s head with a crown piece, throatlatch, cheek pieces, and flash or chin strap; each of these is a specialized strap that fits the bridle onto your horse with little to no discomfort. 

English bridles, on the other hand, have two additional straps along with the four mentioned earlier. They use a browband that can be accessorized for events where aesthetics are appreciated, such as Dressage; and a noseband that helps minimize movement of the horse’s mouth, helping them keep proper form.

For both types of bridle, these supporting straps are used to secure the two main pieces that help you direct your horse: the bit and the reins. These two pieces work together to help your horse understand what you need them to do during a competition.

The bit is a piece of metal that you place inside your horse’s mouth. It places pressure on key points of the horse’s tongue and jaw based on how you move the reins, which are long straps or chains that extend from the bridle for riders to hold. The pressure exerted by the bit, in turn, is used as a nonverbal signal that tells your horse when to turn, slow down, stop, and any other instructions you want them to learn. 

Think of how you move your reins as “words” that the bit translates into something your horse understands, and you’ve got a basic idea of how the bit, reins, and bridle work together to help you communicate with your steed.

Because every horse is unique, there are many types of bit you can use to communicate with them. You’ll need to consult with a horse trainer or bit expert to find out what type of bit works best with your horse’s mouth shape and demeanor. You can check out this guide to horse bits to learn more about them. In the guide, you’ll also find info about how bit accessories like a gel bit guard can help keep your horse’s mouth healthy by preventing ulcers and chafing.

 

Advanced Tack

While there’s an incredibly large amount of specialized tack out there, beginners might want to look into a couple of pieces that aren’t necessarily essential, but go a long way toward helping prevent horse injury. These pieces of tack can help give beginners a smoother start into the exciting world of equestrianism, especially since injuries can be quite discouraging to new riders.

Horse boots, for instance, provide additional support for your horse’s joints. These are especially helpful if you’re training for events like Show Jumping, which tends to put a larger amount of force on your horse’s legs. Horse boots can be made for different parts of the leg, such as fetlocks and tendons. With a properly fitted boot, horses can avoid the worst of injuries.

You’ll also want to keep some bandages and gel knee pads in stock, too. While good horse tack minimizes the risk of injury to your horse, it doesn’t make injuries impossible. Having horse bandages handy can help reduce the amount of time needed for injury rehabilitation in case the worst happens. Some trainers use gel knee pads during horse training as well; the extra support can help prevent injuries that might happen along the way.

Finally, while this doesn’t qualify as tack per se, you’ll also want to have easy access to horse treats. Horse training just isn’t complete without giving your horse any rewards, making treats a must-have for any beginner equestrian.

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Ensure your and your horse's comfort and safety when picking out riding gears!

 

Equestrian Gear

Your horse isn’t the only one who needs equipment! Many equestrian sports have serious injury risks, so it’s in every beginner’s best interest to train with the proper gear. Depending on the type of sport you’ll be training in, you’ll want to get yourself at least a riding helmet, a crash vest, and a pair of horseback riding boots. Make sure that each of these pieces fits properly to make sure they provide adequate protection—if you’re female, for example, wearing looser men’s riding boots instead of women’s equestrian boots could result in you seriously hurting your leg.

When putting together a horse tack list, it’s important for every beginner to prioritize comfort and safety, as both of these play a huge role in your and your horse’s long-term health. When you can, invest in high-quality gear that not only does the job in keeping the both of you injury-free, but also is durable enough to last through years of horse training and competition. 

Finally, make sure that each piece you buy fits properly; every good horse trainer will tell you that how well a horse’s tack fits is directly proportional to their health and safety. It’s always best to consult with an expert about your horse’s measurements and inform your horse tack seller about them.

If you’d like to get started on your horse tack sets, feel free to check out our collection of saddle pads, horse boots, bit accessories, and bandages today.

Click here to view our collection of high-quality horse tack!