Home >

What is horse tack? The best horse tack summary

What is horse tack?

You may have heard the term before.  Tack includes horseback riding equipment such as saddles, bridles, reins, bits, stirrups, harnesses, halters, and more. Horses have been invaluable companions and partners in human history. To ensure the safety and comfort of both horse and rider, a wide range of equipment and accessories, collectively known as “tack,” are employed. In this blog, we will dive into the world of horse tack, exploring the various pieces and their roles in equestrian care.

Saddles: The Rider’s Seat

When asking the question “What is horse tack?” it makes sense to start with the saddle.  A saddle is perhaps the most recognizable piece of horse tack. It serves as a seat for the rider and is secured to the horse’s back with a girth (in English-style riding) or a cinch (in Western-style riding). It is essential that the saddle fits comfortably for both the rider and the horse. An ill-fitting saddle can create pressure points on the horse’s back muscles, potentially causing discomfort or injury to both horse and rider.

Saddles are designed for various riding disciplines and can be broadly categorized into “English saddles” and “Western saddles.” These categories correspond to the type of riding they are intended for, but there are also specialized saddles for activities such as racing, Australian riding, sidesaddle, and endurance riding.

Stirrups: Rider’s Foot Support

Stirrups are the supports for the rider’s feet, hanging on either side of the saddle. They provide stability to the rider and help in maintaining balance. Safety is a concern with stirrups since a rider’s foot can get caught, leading to dangerous situations. Safety precautions include appropriate riding boots, safety bars on some saddles, and stirrup design variations.

Headgear: Control and Communication

Various types of headgear are used to control and communicate with horses. They include:

  • Halters: Consisting of a noseband and headstall, halters allow the horse to be led or tied. They are not used for riding but are essential for everyday handling.
  • Bridles: Used for riding and driving, bridles have a bit attached to reins. English and Western bridles differ in style, and double bridles feature both a snaffle and a curb bit for advanced riders.
  • Bits: Bits are devices placed in a horse’s mouth and held in place with a headstall. They provide a means of communication between the rider and the horse, with various types suitable for different riding styles and training needs.

Reins: Communication with the Horse

Reins consist of leather straps or rope attached to the bit, enabling the rider to communicate directional commands to the horse’s head. Pulling on the reins steers or stops the horse. Proper rein usage is vital for a harmonious partnership between rider and horse.

Harness: Equine for Work

Horse harnesses are essential for attaching horses to various types of vehicles and loads. There are two main harness styles: breaststrap and collar and hames.

  • Breaststrap Harness: This style involves a wide leather strap that goes horizontally across the horse’s breast, attaching to the traces and the load. It’s mainly used for lighter loads.
  • Collar and Hames Harness: In this type, a collar fits around the horse’s neck, with wooden or metal hames in the collar. The traces are attached to the hames and then to the load. Collar and hames harnesses are used for heavy draft work.

Both types of harnesses include a bridle and reins, and for shaft support, a saddle. The choice of harness depends on the specific type of work the horse is expected to perform.

Breastplates and Martingales: Ensuring Safety and Control

Breastplates, breastcollars, and breastgirths serve a vital role in preventing the saddle from sliding backward or sideways, especially in fast-paced equestrian sports. These pieces of tack are crucial for safety and stability, particularly in jumping and eventing disciplines.

Martingales come in various types, each serving a distinct purpose in controlling the horse’s head carriage.

Understanding the role of breastplates and martingales is essential for equestrians, as using the right type of equipment contributes to the horse’s well-being and safety during training and competition.

In conclusion, horse tack is a comprehensive collection of equipment and accessories that enhances the horse-rider partnership and ensures the well-being of these magnificent animals. Now you’ll be able to provide an answer if someone else asks you “What is horse tack?” Riders, trainers, and horse enthusiasts must have a deep understanding of the various components of tack and their proper usage to ensure the comfort, safety, and performance of horses in a wide range of equestrian activities. Tack is not merely gear but a means of communication and partnership between humans and horses, showcasing the beauty of this age-old relationship.  Jeffers Equine carries a wide variety of quality horse tack, including from some of the top brand names in the Equestrian world, at affordable prices you’ll love.