When you first get into horses, you might be overwhelmed with the terminology. Even then, it’s an essential step that every rider has to go through. That said, horse tack is one that riders often hear. But what exactly does it mean? You’re about to find out. Discover everything there is to know about horse tack and why it’s essential. Giddy-up!

Difference Between Horse Tack and Horse Gear

Most new riders often confuse horse tack with gear. However, these are two completely different terms. Horse tack refers to the equipment or accessories needed to ride domesticated horses.

These are saddles, bridle, stirrups, reins, breastplates, etc. On the other hand, gear isn’t anything necessary for riding the horse. Instead, it can include tools such as brushes, feed buckets, and hoof picks used to maintain the precious animals, feed them, and groom them.

Saddles and Stirrups

Even if you’re a beginner, you’ve probably heard of the basic horse tack, such as the saddle and stirrups. Riders put a saddle on their horse so that they can sit comfortably. Not only does it give enough support to the rider, but it also makes the ride more comfortable for the horse. The saddle shouldn’t put too much pressure on the horse, and it’s designed to prevent the muscles from getting sore.

Generally speaking, there are two types of saddle: the Western and the English saddle. Western saddles sport a horn at the front, which riders use to wrap rope for roping the cattle. Another distinguishable factor is that Western saddles are suitable for longer rides because they distribute the rider’s weight evenly.

On the other hand, English saddles are much lighter and smaller than Western saddles. They give riders more flexibility and allow them to have better contact with their animal. Riders often use these in jump competitions or dressage exhibitions.

Whether you prefer the Western or the English saddle, you need stirrups. These are made from leather and hung from either side of the saddle. The stirrups help the rider to sit on the horse and provide support during the ride.

Bridles and Reins

The saddle and the stirrups are more essential for riding than providing comfort during the ride. However, the bridle and reins are equally important as they let the rider steer the horse. The bridle sits comfortably around the horse’s head and is a basis for other horse headgear.

Just like saddles, there are Western and English bridles. Those who prefer Western riding style and saddles would use Western bridles. Likewise, English bridles are suitable for English riding.

The reins are leather strips that riders attach to the sides of the bridle. Pulling them gently enables riders to direct the horse.

There are different types of reins, so riders should get a model that suits their riding style. The reins need to be comfortable and have an appropriate length. If they’re too long, this will affect the ride; riders will be unable to signal to their horses and direct them.

However, the reins also can’t be too short, or the horse won’t be able to lean and drink or have the freedom to turn its head.

Girth or Cinch

A girth or cinch is a broader leather strap that holds the saddle on a horse. The girth goes under the horse’s barrel and is attached to the saddle using leather straps called billets.


Because of the horse anatomy, a saddle can slide if there isn’t a breastplate. As such, they’re vital for the rider’s safety. Although an inexpensive investment, a breastplate or tack ensures that the rider doesn’t slip from the saddle and fall.

Saddle Pad

When riding a horse, ensuring their comfort should also be a priority. Many riders place a saddle pad on the horse before they mount the saddle; this prevents irritation and reduces friction that the saddle creates on the skin. For example, memory foams pads are airy and breathable and absorb sweat much better.

However, the saddle pad isn’t an essential part of the horse tack. If you invest in a well-fitted and -made saddle, that should be enough.

Why Is Tacking Important?

Beginning riders should learn the intricate details of horse tack to know how to tack the horse correctly. But what does tacking the horse involve? It’s the process of putting the equipment on the horse before you get on the horse and go for a ride.

If you perform this daily, before you know it, tacking will become a routine task. Before then, it’s essential to develop good tacking habits and ensure a safe ride for all.

When tacking a horse, you should make sure that you have all the necessary equipment. Remember that new riders shouldn’t feel embarrassed about asking how to use some equipment.

Learn the Horse Glossary

Before you even think of getting on a horse, you might want to learn about horse tack. All parts of the horse tack should fit the horse nicely and provide comfort for the rider and the animal. If you’re unsure about a specific piece of equipment, learn through reputable sources and ask your fellow equestrians for help (they’ll be glad to).