What is Horse Tack?

what is horse tack

Horse tack is a common term used in the horse world, but what does it really mean? Horse tack are simply the items you use on a horse when you go horseback riding or handle the horse. The horse tack helps you steer and stop the horse and sit on the horse more comfortably. Horse tack includes everything from the saddle (that goes on the horse’s back) to the bridle, horse boots and more. Horse tack for different riding disciplines can however look very different, english riders for example ride in a smaller style saddle without a horn, while western riders ride in a larger heavy style saddle with a horn.


Western Horse Tack

Western horse tack is used for western disciplines such as barrel racing, roping, western pleasure, rodeo, cutting, trail riding and more. Western saddles are the larger style cowboy saddles you might have seen in western movies. The rider rides with straight legs in a western saddle and sit very comfortably with a high cantle and horn for extra security. Other western tack includes:

  • Headstall – Usually made of leather, a harness that goes over the horse’s head when ridden, connects to a bit and reins which allows stopping and steering
  • Fenders – Piece of equipment that attaches to the saddle tree and holds the riders legs
  • Bosal – A bitless western headstall
  • Reins – Connects to the bit, allows the rider to stop and steer the horse
  • Western Saddle – Goes over the horse’s back, creates a secure seat for the rider to sit on when riding
  • Saddle bags – Connects to the saddle, allows the rider to bring items along on trail rides etc.
  • Saddle blanket – Piece of cloth that goes between the saddle and the horse’s back to make it more cofmortable for the horse with more cushion.
  • Draw reins – Piece of tack used for both english and western riding, used for training the horse to keep the horse’s head in the right position
  • Breast collar –  A piece of horse tack that goes over the horse’s shoulder blades to keep the saddle from slipping backwards
  • Curb bit – A piece of metal that goes in the horse’s mouth and attaches to the headstall.
  • Curb Strap – Attaches to the bit and prevents it from rotating in the horse’s mouth and puts extra pressure on the horse’s jaw when the reins are pulled
  • Cinch girth – Attaches to the saddle and keeps it in place, goes under the horse’s belly
  • Bell boots – Used as protection boots on top of the horse’s hoof to avoid the horse overstepping and pulling a shoe or clipping its on hoof.
  • Other Western Wear used for Western riding – Cowboy boots, western spurs, chaps, Jeans, 

English Horse Tack

English tack is used for english disciplines including Show jumping, eventing and dressage. English riding is a bit different from western riding in terms of the tack you use and the way you ride the horse. English riders ride with softer bits, more contact in the reins, shorter stirrup leathers, and less support in the saddle (allows more freedom of movement when jumping etc). Some of the most common English horse equipment includes: 

  • English saddles – dressage saddle, All purpose saddle, Jump saddle
  • English Bridles – Goes on the horse’s head when ridden. Double bridles, Grackle bridle, 
  • English style Halter – A nylon ‘harness’ you place over the horse’s head to hand walk them places
  • Lead rope – A rope that attaches to the halter, almost like a horse leash
  • Saddle pad – A piece of fabric that goes under the saddle for extra padding and support underneath the saddle.
  • Two buckle Girth – Attaches to an english saddles and keeps the saddle secure.
  • Stirrup Leathers – Connects to the stirrup irons and hold the riders legs when ridden
  • Side reins – A set of straps used to train the horse to keep its head in the correct position, usually used when lunging the horse
  • Snaffle bit – piece of metal that goes in the horse’s mouth
  • Long lines – Used when long lining or long reining the horse

Horse Tack Care Tips

Keeping your horse riding equipment clean and cared for in your tack room can extend the lifetime of it  a lot, especially the leather tack. Horse tack comes in a variety of materials hence we have created a list below as a general guide how to care for it.

  • Leather Tack – Horse saddles and bridles are usually made of leather and to keep it in good condition you need to make sure you clean and oil it regularly. You can find leather polish, leather conditioner and cleaner at your local tack shops
  • Synthetic tack – Synthetic materials usully only need a wipe off with a damp cloth, always let air dry in the sun after to avoid mould. You can buy mould packet too for storing in the tackroom to to be sure. 
  • Horse blankets – Use laundromats to wash your horse blanket to avoid breaking your own washing machine as horse blanket can get very dirty. Horse blankets tend to be durable and can be washed on heavy cycle on warm heat. If the leg straps are not dirty its a good idea to take them off before to avoid them damaging the washing machine. Tie any straps together too before washing.
  • Horse Bits – Soak in a bucket with dishsoap before you scrub any dirt off. Do not soak using strong cleaning products as any residue is toxic and will end up in the horse’s mouth
  • Saddle pads – Treat any stains with stain remover or bleach (if it is white) before washing it on 30 degrees in the washing machine, do not tumble dry

Make sure you also insure your horse tack from theft and fire in case to protect yourself from a huge financial loss if the accident is there.

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