Horseback riding is a popular sport. Beginners introduced to this sport are bombarded with tons of words, phrases, and these horse terms which are extremely confusing. One of them is horse tack and tacking up your horse. Riders often use these phrases.

But beginners are often confused about the equipment used for horses. But which horse tack item should you buy? And which one is optional? If you are a beginner or an expert, read this comprehensive guide till the end. I’ll share everything you need to know about horse tack.

So let’s get started.

What is Horse Tack?

Horse tack is basic equipment that riders use for horse riding. With this equipment, you can easily control your horse and ride it. When you are ready to ride your horse, you must have heard phrases like tacking or tacking up your horse. It means preparing your horse by placing the necessary equipment on the horse. It is to facilitate the horse and ensure safety, security, and comfort of the horse.

Why Do You Need To Use Different Tacks For Your Horse Occasionally?

It depends on the activity your horse is going to be performing. However, the primary items for tacking up your horse will remain the same. But you might need to add additional items for additional safety and comfort.

Imagine your horse jumping while doing a show and how your horse moves when it’s pulling a cart.

There is a complete difference between both activities. And that’s why you must choose a suitable tack for a particular activity.

Types Of Horse Tack Based On Riding Styles

There are two types of styles for riding horses. They are English and Western, and pieces of horse tack for these riding styles also vary.

English Riding

They usually use English saddles that are small and light. They are designed specifically so the equipment is closer to the back of the horse. To change the horse’s direction, they hold the horse’s reins in one hand. Double bridles are also used in English riding instead of single bits. The double bits provide additional control to the rider.

Western Riding

The western saddles are heavy and large in comparison to English tacks. Western horses are trained to give a quick response by neck reining. You might wonder what that means. It’s simple whenever the rein rests against the neck of the horse, they will immediately react.

English style is more about having direct contact with the horse. Meanwhile, western riding relies on light touches from the rider, which makes these styles different.

Types Of Tack You Need While Riding A Horse

It’s important to note that the tack used while riding a horse differs from other tacks. There are different tacks when a horse. Such as the tack for pulling carriages is different from the tack for riding a horse.

The purpose of tack is to make the ride safe and comfortable for both horse and rider. It allows gentle communication between them so the rider can understand the horse. Some of the most common tacks for riding horses are as follow;

  • Bridle: It is horse headgear. It is made from three things, i.e., halter, bit, and reins. Halter is also known as headstall.
  • Halter: This is another important piece of horse tack equipment made from leather. It is wrapped around the head of a horse. Many reins, bits, and ropes are further attached with a halter.
  • Bit: This is a metal piece of equipment for tacking up your horse. The bits sit in your horses mouth. Many bridles and reins are connected with the bit. When you pull the reins, the bits will put pressure on the sides of the mouth. This gentle pressure will cause the horse to move in the rider’s desired direction. It is an extremely important tool for sound communication between horse and rider.
  • Reins: It is leather or rope which is directly connected to the bit. The rider has full control of the reins; with this crucial tool, they can manage the horse’s movement.
  • Saddle: It is a leather seat for riders. These are available in different styles depending on the style of the rider. There are many saddles, such as western or racing saddles.
  • Cinch/Girth: A strap ensures that the saddle is at the right place and the rider sits comfortably.
  • Stirrups: These are foot holders which help riders climb up the saddle.

Tacks Horses Wear to Pull Carriages

You need to buy different tack equipment for your horse to pull a carriage. The main purpose of tacks for pulling carriages is to secure the horse with the carriage. So that horse can easily pull the entire carriage with its body weight. It’s also important that the horse won’t feel discomfort or injury.

Suppose you are going to city streets with your horse. These tacks can help you predict the next movement of your horse, and you can make quick decisions. There are also some other equipment you need;

  • Harness: These are sets of straps connected with a horse to the item which needs to be pulled.
  • Collar: It’s a crucial part of the harness. With its help, the item’s weight is evenly distributed on the shoulder of the horse.
  • Traces: These straps are attached with a collar to the load.
  • Breeching: This strap ties behind the haunches of the horse. With it, you can assist your horse in stopping or slowly pulling the item.

What Is a Tack Room?

A tack room is a place which is in the stable where the tack is stored. So whenever you are looking for tack equipment for your horse or want to place all the tack outfits on your horse, this is where you will get all of this done. This is the place to get your horse ready for horseback riding.

Usually, the tack rooms are organized. So you can easily find the equipment you need quickly. There are specific shops that have these types of equipment and are known as tack shops.

How to Tack Up a Horse?

Now let’s move to the most important step, which is how you can tack up your horse. Follow this step-by-step guide on doing this in just 15 minutes.

Step 1: Brush Your Horse

Firstly you need to groom your horse properly. Remove all the dirt that will cause irritation or discomfort for your horse. Any negligence in this step can cause a lot of diseases and health issues.

Place the saddle pad on the back of the horse. Just behind the highest point of the horse’s shoulder, put a blanket on it. According to horse anatomy, that body is known as wither. Now place the saddle on the saddle pad.

This step is almost the same in English or Western horses. Some horseback riders might face difficulty doing that and need help from an expert. Also, it’s important to do regular cleaning of all the horse riding supplies.

Step 2: Fasten The Girth

Now carefully reach under the horse and grasp the girth. Make sure that’s it nearest to the saddle, and safely fasten the girth. There are many horses who hold their breath just to ensure that their girth is not too tight. So this step of fastening girth may require a lot of time, especially if you are a beginner.

Step 3: Place The Halter Around Neck

You have safely fastened the girth and need to move to the next step, unbuckling the halter. After snuggling the girth of the saddle and unbuckling the halter, skills it off the nose of the horse.

Now flight halter on the neck of your horse. Re-buckle it but don’t make it tight. It’s best to do it loosely. Because that will help you access the horse’s face, and you can easily tack them with a bridle.

Step 4: Place The Bit

Now hold the crown of the bridle and bit in your other hand. Now offer the horse the bit. Many horses will accept it easily, but you might need to make extra efforts for some. And for that, you need to use your thumb to lift the horse’s lips carefully.

Step 5: Slip The Bridle

Slip the bridle over the ear of your horse. Many riders do it aggressively, which leads to bumping the eyes of horses or injury to the ears. The bridle crown should go over the head of the horse, and the leather strap should comfortably sit behind the horse.

Step 6: Fasten the Bridle

Fasten the throat latch. It is helpful because the bridle will not slip back repeatedly over the ears of horses, which will also become a huge hindrance in riding the horse. Buckle the strap under the throat of the horse. There is no need to snug the strap.

Step 7: Add Any Necessary Equipment

Add any other important equipment to ensure the safety of your horse. Saddles and bridles are important for tacking up any English or Western horse. However, many horses owners use additional equipment. They cause the safety and security of horse and includes collars, protective horse boots, etc.

Step 8: Double Check Because It’s Important

Now you are at the last step of tacking up your horse. There is no need to hurry so double-check all the equipment. Inspect both sides and ensure every piece of equipment is in the right place and not causing any harm to the horse, specially rechecking the tightness of the equipment.

Get Ready To Ride Your Horse!

By now, you already know the important elements of horse tacking. You know how to tack your horses and are one step closer to riding your horse without worrying about injuring your horse.

Remember that knowing the right tack for your horse is important to strengthen the relationship between your horse and the horse owner and ensuring safety of your horse.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Material Is Used In Horse Tack?

In general, tack refers to leather equipment which includes saddles and bridles. They are used by riders to ensure smooth equine activities. But it’s not limited to material that is made from leather material only. It’s for all horse equipment made with or without leather.

Is Tack Important For Horses?

Tack is a crucial piece of equipment for horses. It includes a variety of things such as bridles, bits, saddles, etc. If you place the tack correctly on your horse, then you ensure your horse is safe and secure. It also contributes to the longevity and health of horses.

Is It Ok To Ride A Horse Without Tack?

Yes, it is possible but you need a certain level of expertise. Bareback riding is a famous form of horse riding in which you can ride a horse without a saddle. You need;

  • Skill
  • Balance
  • Coordination

Since you don’t have any equipment to compensate for any mishaps, errors, and mistakes, you need to be an expert at bareback riding; otherwise, tacks are highly recommended.