Learning how to tack up a horse is one of the essential skills every equestrian needs to know. But when you’re just starting to explore the world of horse riding, you can become overwhelmed with all the steps you need to follow.

After all, if you don’t tack up the horse properly, it will cause discomfort to you and your horse and affect your overall riding experience.

So, what are the steps involved in tacking up a horse? Follow our comprehensive guide to help you out.

Gather Equipment and Secure Your Horse

The first step in tacking up a horse is gathering the equipment you need and securing your animal.

Place a halter on the horse and fasten it with a quick-release knot. Doing so will enable you to safely tie your horse and release it if it starts to panic. If you don’t know how to tie a quick-release knot, check out this video.

Groom Your Horse

Grooming is as essential as other steps. It helps you clean the horse from excess dirt that might have accumulated. It also prevents the horse from feeling uncomfortable and sore once you put on the blanket or the pad.

Furthermore, grooming enables you to inspect your animal and check if there are any signs of swellings or injuries, such as bites or cuts.

Use different brushes to remove dirt and dust. Take your time to clean and relax the horse. Don’t forget to also clean your horse’s hooves. This step prevents accidents from happening, which could potentially injure you and your horse.

Place the Pad

The first layer that goes on the horse is the pad. This provides additional comfort for the horse and helps prevent soreness.

Place the pad on the horse’s back. However, there’s a trick as to where exactly you should place it. Putting the pad too high on the withers will limit your horse’s movement. On the other hand, if you put it too far, there’s a risk of your weight hurting the horse’s back because you’re sitting in the wrong place.

That’s why the pad should go slightly behind the withers. It’s also vital to slide it back a bit so that it doesn’t pull the horse’s hair. If the mane gets caught under the pad, release it carefully.

Saddle Up the Horse

After you’ve padded your horse, it’s time to place the saddle on it. It’s challenging to saddle up the horse, especially if you’re dealing with a restless animal. But it’s also one of the essential steps in learning how to tack up a horse.

If the saddle is too heavy for you, you might try to throw it onto the horse. However, this will surprise the horse, and it might become agitated. In that case, ask someone to help you out or stand on a mounting block to do so.

The front of the saddle goes in the same place as the pad. Position it right where the withers rise. You’ll notice a dip behind the withers where the saddle should go.

Once you put on the saddle, adjust the pad under it. It might move slightly up the withers; if so, make sure to pull it back.

Attach the Girth

The next step is attaching the girth. The girth fastens the sides of the saddle and goes under the horse’s barrel. To secure the girth properly, stand on the right side of the horse. Place one side of the girth through the hole in the saddle pad.

The first and the third outer billets of the saddle should go into the first holes of the tuck run in the girth. Then, go to the left side.

Reach under the horse’s barrel and get the girth. Put it through the hole in the pad and attach it the same way. Don’t worry if it feels too loose. You’ll adjust it later before riding.

Put on the Bridle

The last step in learning how to tack up a horse is putting on a bridle. A bridle helps equestrians communicate and direct their horse.

First, you’ll need to untie the horse. Then, make sure the curved part of the bridle is facing down so that it can go smoothly into the horse’s mouth.

Place your right arm under the horse’s throat and take the bridle. Hold the bit with the left hand and try to put it gently into the horse’s mouth. If the horse won’t accept the bit, carefully slide your left thumb inside its mouth. Doing so will help open its mouth.

The next step is pulling the bridle carefully over the ears. For the horse’s maximum comfort, push the ears a bit forward while pulling up the bridle. That way, the bridle won’t bend the ears; it will sit comfortably. If the mane is caught under the bridle, pull it out.

Finally, you need to check the tightness of the bridle. It should be tight enough to secure the horse and allow your animal to drink water and move its head. A bridle that is too tight will cause discomfort, and if it is too loose, it will intervene with how you direct them.