Besides the cost of taking care of a horse, in order to spend some time riding it you will need certain equipment. This equipment allows you and the horse to be more comfortable and allows the rider to have control over the horse as well. Of course, there is basic equipment you will need but also some optional gear depending on what kind of riding you want to do and where. For example, if you are taking your horse on a day trip to do some trail riding in the mountain, it is a good idea to bring some emergency supplies. The kind of equipment you will need also depends on what kind of riding you want to do since English-style riding requires more gear than western style riding.
No matter where you take your horse, there is some basic equipment you will need for riding:
The Saddle and Saddle Blankets
The saddle is the actual seat for the rider that fits onto the horse’s back. The saddle makes riding more comfortable for both you and the horse. It is attached to the horse by a wide strap that comes around the horse near the forelegs. This strap is called a girth in English-style riding and a cinch for western riding. The saddle spreads the rider’s weight over the horse’s back, and has different features depending on if it is an English-style or western saddle. Western saddles have a horn on the front of the saddle to wind a rope around. Some western saddles also have another strap that goes around the horse. Saddles also come with stirrups, the straps that support the rider’s feet and hang down on each side of the animal’s body.
The saddle is arguably the most important piece of equipment. After all, you might spend hours in the saddle on a long day trip. The saddle also needs to fit comfortably around the horse in order to not cause pain to the animal. Riders will usually put a blanket or some kind of padding underneath the saddle. This padding is an extra layer or protection for the horse’s back. It extends the life of your saddle and prevents it from slipping while riding. Saddle blankets and padding can be found in many different sizes and colors so you can find one just right for you and your horse.
Bridles and Reins
The bridles and halters are the pieces of equipment that go around the horse’s head giving a measure of control over the horse. A bridle consists of straps that go around the horse’s head and a bit that fits inside the horse’s mouth. The reins are straps that connect to the bit and extend to the rider’s hands. This way the rider can control the movement of the horse through what he or she does with the reins. Without a bridle and reigns, the rider will have difficulty controlling the horse, so these are also required for any type of riding you will want to do. English-style riding includes some other pieces of necessary equipment like a breastplate or martingale that gives more control to the rider. Breastplates are also pieces of safety equipment in events that are required for jumping.
Halters and a Lead Rope
Halters are also straps that go around the horse’s head but they are not used for riding. Halters allow the horse to be led and tied, and unlike bridles, they do not have a bit that goes into the mouth. Halters allow a lead rope to be attached to the horse, and the rider can use the lead rope to lead the animal or tie it up. If you are taking your horse on a long day trip, halters can be left on the horse while you transport it to and from the trail without having to put a bit in its mouth. Halters and lead ropes allow to you control the horse while you are not riding it.
Depending on which kind of riding you want to do, you may or may not want to invest in the following gear:
- Saddles bags are pouches that hang over the saddle and allow you to store you gear. Depending on what kind you get, you can store food, keys, water, maps, and emergency supplies in a saddle bag.
- An old cinch in order to try a horse to a tree. It minimizes rope burn.
- A hoof pick is used to clean the hoof of a horse and keep the hoofs from accumulating rocks, manure, and mud.
- A hoof boot is an emergency shoe for a horse in case one is lost. They are easy to put on and can also be used to protect the horse’s hoof if it is injured.
- Insect repellent for the horse to keep those pesky bugs away.
- A first-aid kit for animals that include bandages, large gauzes, salve, antibiotic cream and more.
No matter what kind of riding you want to do, there are some basic equipment needs for your horse like a saddle, a saddle blanket, a bridle, and reins. It is always helpful to have a halter and lead rope as well. Depending on what kind of riding you want to do and where you will be taking your horse, you might want some other pieces of equipment too.