Horse riding has become a favourite pastime for people of all ages and disciplines, from casual trail rides to competitive show jumping.
When it comes to the safety and enjoyment of your riding experience and your horse’s comfort, having the right horse tack is essential.
With so many different types and styles of horse tack to choose from, it can be challenging to know which ones you should invest in and how to be sure you’re buying the right equipment for your horse.
Especially if you’re a beginner just starting your riding journey!
That’s where we come in.
This article will cover everything you need to know to choose the right gear for your horse, from the different types of equipment to how to find the perfect fit.
Introduction to Horse Tack
Horse tack includes various items and encapsulates all gear used for horseback riding.
This can include items like bridles and bits to saddles and reins.
The most popular styles of horseback riding include the following styles:
Each one of these has its own unique appearance and is used in different disciplines, so it’s important to invest in the right gear for the type of riding you do.
For example, if you enjoy trail riding, will be barrel racing, reining or another type of western riding, you’d want to choose Western tack.
On the other hand, you’d need to invest in English tack if you want to compete in show jumping, eventing or dressage.
One main difference between Western and English horse tack is their size. Western tack is often larger, whereas English tack is smaller and lighter.
6 Essential Types of Horse Tack
There are several types of horse tack, and each one comes in both Western and English styles.
Saddles are often the first thing people think of when it comes to horse tack, and with good reason.
This is the largest piece you’ll be buying and plays a substantial role in both your and your horse’s riding experience.
Saddles provide you with stability and balance as you ride and can help you maintain proper form.
Saddles come in various sizes, making it possible for everyone to enjoy a comfortable ride when they’ve chosen the right saddle for both their body and their horse’s frame.
When it comes to Western and English styles, saddles easily have the largest difference compared to any other type of tack.
Western styles are heavy and have a wider seat design with a deep seat, maximizing your security and stability while riding.
Additionally, these saddles have a horn at the front, making it great for kids who are learning how to ride.
English saddles, however, are much lighter and have a flatter design. They also have a short length for their stirrups, keeping your legs slightly higher up as you ride.
2. Bridles and Bits
Your bridle naturally goes hand in hand with a bit when it comes to your riding gear and is the piece of tack that helps you control your horse as you ride.
Bridles are most often made of leather and go around the horse’s head and ears.
Attached to the bridle is the bit, which is most often made of metal and goes into the horse’s mouth.
Bits come in many forms, from straight bars to a two-bar design that hinges in the middle, and can be made using rubber, metal, or even rope in some cases.
Choosing the right size bit for your horse is essential to ensure their comfort while you ride, so when deciding on a bit, take your time to find the right one.
3. Girths & Cinches
Girths and cinches serve the same function, each strictly associated with a specific style.
Girths are used for English saddles, while cinches are used for Western ones.
Essentially, girths and cinches are a piece of tack that goes around your horse’s barrel to secure the saddle in place.
They come in various lengths and widths to easily fit the size of every horse, and it’s important to find one that properly fits your horse’s frame and is comfortable for them to wear.
Girths and cinches can be made with various materials, such as leather or neoprene, and some even include synthetic wool or faux fur to ensure a comfortable fit for your horse.
Your reins are how you’ll help control your horse as you ride.
They attach to the side rings of your bit and often come in two long pieces for you to hold in one or both hands as you ride.
Reins come in various lengths and styles and are most often made of leather.
The reins you buy will depend on your riding style, your horse’s build, and your size.
The right set should be long enough for you to have good control of your horse and will need to fit comfortably in your hands so you can maintain your grip as you ride.
5. Halters and Lead Ropes
Halters are another headpiece for your horse and are generally worn anytime you’re not riding but are still working with your horse.
Halters do not include bits, making them more comfortable while still providing a way for you to have some control.
Halters are most often made of leather or nylon and can come in various styles.
Lead ropes are long ropes that attach to the halter anytime you’re walking them out to the paddock or leading them.
Horse Tack Fitting Guide
No matter what piece of horse tack you’re buying, finding the right fit for your horse is essential.
Not only will it keep your horse comfortable anytime it’s on them, but it’s vital in providing a safe riding experience.
Improperly fitting tack can leave your horse uncomfortable and in pain during and after your ride and can even lead to injury for both you and the horse.
Fitting a Saddle
Your saddle sits high up on your horse’s back and needs to fit their frame.
Each saddle has what’s called a “gullet,” which is the underside of the front of the saddle that sits on your horse’s withers, the bump where the shoulder blades meet at the base of your horse’s neck.
Saddles have various gullet sizes, and it’s crucial you choose a saddle that is the right size.
A gullet that’s too small will put excess pressure on your horse as you ride, causing them pain.
One that’s too large will result in the saddle moving after it’s been secured to your horse’s back, which can not only cause chafing but is unsafe.
Fitting Bridles and Bits
Each piece of your bridle will need to be long enough to fit comfortably around your horse’s head.
Many styles come with adjustable cheek pieces, making it easy to extend them to fit the length of your horse’s face without causing pressure around their ears.
When it comes to your bit, you’ll need to find one that’s the right width for your horse’s mouth.
If it’s too small, it can cause pinching as you guide your horse during your rides. This can result in pain for your horse and poor behaviour from the discomfort.
Fitting Girths and Cinches
Your horse’s barrel size will determine the size of girth or cinch you need to purchase, as well as your saddle style.
While this part of your tack needs to be snug enough to ensure your saddle doesn’t slip, you don’t want to use one that’s too tight because it can restrict our horse’s breathing once it’s tightened.
The length of your reins is important, and finding ones that give you good control over your horse without tangling will help ensure you have a successful ride each time you saddle up.
Depending on your reins, you can knot them at the top or buckle them if they have a belt-style design.
While this isn’t a solution to overly long reins, it can help give you some flexibility when needed.
Fitting your halter will be very similar to how you fit your bridal, as it sits the same way on your horse’s head.
You’ll want your halter to fit properly to avoid unnecessary pressure on your horse’s face, so you’ll want a looser fit while still ensuring it fits properly and won’t come off.
The length of your lead rope is important and shouldn’t be too long.
A long lead rope can become tangled and hurt your horse if their feet get tangled up in it.
On the other hand, if it’s too short, you won’t be able to comfortably lead your horse, so it’s essential you find one that’s a comfortable and safe length for both your and your horse’s height.
Finding The Right Horse Tack is Important
Your horse tack plays a significant role in your riding experience, from how comfortable your horse is to the safety of your ride.
One of the most influential factors in which tack is right for you is your riding style and the disciplines you intend to train.
Your horse tack should be made of high-quality materials and be properly fitted to your horse’s size and build, ensuring you’ll enjoy your gear for years to come while providing a comfortable ride for your horse.
Horse Tack For Sale in Rockwood
If you’ve been looking for the perfect place to find all your horse tack and horse riding equipment, System Equine has everything you need, both in store and in our convenient online shop.
We’ve been serving Rockwood and the surrounding areas with all their equestrian needs since 1987, from fencing and stalls to tack and grooming.
Visit us in store to explore all our horse tack in person with one of our experts, or shop online to find all your new gear.