Saddlery and Tack
Hints & Tips
Having correctly fitting tack and saddle is important for the comfort and health of your horse, and will also ensure that you are safer whilst riding. Not having correctly fitting items will result in an agitated horse and not a very pleasant ride for you!
It is important to purchase the right size bridle for your horse. There are three sizes: pony, cob and full. These are fully adjustable, and the standard nose band can be changed to a different style if required.
One of the vital pieces of tack to fit correctly is the bit, as this forms the mouthpiece of the bridle. This is the means by which a rider communicates with and directs the horse via the reins. Snaffle bits are the mildest and should be most commonly used. There are other types of bit but they are generally more severe, and there are also bit-less bridles.
The bit size and fit is important in order to fit your horse's mouth correctly, to ensure you do not damage his teeth, gums or lips. Bits are available in sizes ranging from 9cm (3inches) to 15cm (6inches). Bit sizes are measured along the length of the bar between the inner edges of each bit ring, when the bit is laid flat.
The saddle must be well fitting and correctly positioned on your horse's back. If your horse's shape alters, after weight gain or muscle development, then it is important to check the fit of the saddle as it may need altering.
Girths attach the saddle to the horse and help to maintain its position. They are available in many shapes, types and sizes to suit a range of different saddles. A girth should be broad and smooth and fit comfortably around the horse's breast. A correctly fastened girth should rest approximately one hand's width behind the horse's elbows.
Saddle cloths and pads
Saddle cloths are used to minimise saddle slip when riding and also to keep the underside of the saddle clean. If they are not properly placed under the saddle they can alter the fit of the saddle and could even place undue pressure on the horse's withers and spine. Pads are often used to alter the fit of a saddle, however, it may be wise to purchase a new saddle replacement if it still does not fit properly even with a pad.
A rug should fit well around your horse's shoulders and around the base of his neck. If the rug slips it will rub the horse and cause discomfort. The rug should fit comfortably over the top of the neck in front of the horse's wither, and should not be able to slip backwards down the horse's spine.
Ensuring that all your tack and equipment is safe and secure when you are not using it is of utmost importance. If you were to go to the stables one day and find all your equipment had been stolen, would you be able to afford to replace everything? It would most certainly spoil a day of riding that you had been looking forward to!
In these instances it is worthwhile considering horse insurance, as many policies include, or have the option to include, cover for saddlery and tack. You may need to comply with certain security requirements, such as storing your tack in a locked brick-built building, but it could put your mind at ease knowing that you would be covered in the event of loss or theft.