Choosing equipment for your horse ensures your safety and comfort while riding. A few essentials are necessary for the best riding experience. Make sure you decide if you want to do English or Western riding before you choose your gear as the equipment isn’t interchangeable. Here are some of the things you need before you take your horse out for a ride.
Saddle and Pad
A saddle should fit your horse well and be comfortable for you to ride in. Saddles will be different depending on English or Western style, so make sure you choose the appropriate saddle for the riding you intend to do. A saddle pad is also required to place under the saddle and can be found in an inexpensive horse tack shop. The pad should be clean and thick enough to protect your horse’s back. The best pads are quick-drying, absorbent and flexible.
A basic Western bridle includes a headstall, bit and reins. You need to choose the bit that works best for your horse. Some do well with a full bridle, while other horses prefer bitless bridles. They are typically made of leather or nylon. A throatlatch is an extra piece that can be helpful if your horse rubs against something or gets its headstall caught on a branch. The throatlatch will prevent the entire headstall from coming off your horse.
You can choose between round reins or split reins, but split reins are a safer option. Round reins can easily get caught in a branch or cause an injury to your horse if they get loose with the reins down. Split reins give the rider extra length, which is useful when leading your horse or letting its head down for a drink.
If you plan to ride on uneven terrain, you may want to consider a breastcollar for your horse. It keeps the saddle from sliding backward when riding uphill. A rear cinch keeps the saddle from lifting off the horse during a downhill ride.
Halter and Lead Rope
A halter and lead rope can provide the ability to safely tie up your horse when resting on a ride or allow you to get off your saddle and lead your horse where you want it to go. The horse can wear them under its headstall or you can keep them tightly wrapped and carry them on the saddle.
Whatever equipment you choose, make sure you try them on for fit and allow your horse to get used to them before heading out.