For a beginning horse owner, the large quantity of equine-focused products available can be overwhelming. However, if you focus on the basic tack you will need to own a horse, you'll find the choices less overwhelming.
Your style of riding will help dictate which saddles will work best for you. Riding styles include Western, English, Dressage, Hunter Jumper, Cross Country, Rodeo, Barrel Racing, Eventing and trail riding. English saddles are shallow and don't have a saddle horn while Western saddles feature a deep seat with a high cantle as well as a saddle horn to help the rider stay comfortable over longer periods of time.
For Western Riding
- Saddle Online sells a synthetic Western saddle that comes with a free saddle pad. It costs around $200 and comes in black. Synthetic saddles are much lighter than leather saddles and are typically easy to clean. This saddle weighs around 18 pounds and seat sizes range from 14 to 18 inches.
- Lockhart makes a double padded Western saddle that costs around $642. It comes in tan, weighs around 21 pounds, and has a flexible tree which makes it a great fit for trail riding, cutting, roping and barrel racing.
For English Riding
- Dover Saddlery sells a close contact saddle for around $400. It comes in brown and offers a medium deep seat for extra comfort. It is primarily crafted from leather with foam panels.
- Mary Stack sells both new and used saddles and many can be tried out before you purchase them. For around $2,250 you can purchase a used dressage saddle, which might be a good idea if you are just starting out. It comes in black and is made out of leather with a 16.5-inch seat.
Cinch (or Girth)
The cinch or girth is used to hold the saddle in place. Sometimes it comes with a saddle or you can purchase them separately. It attaches to the saddle and wraps around the horse's girth to keep your saddle from moving. Many come with extra cushioning to keep your horse comfortable. People typically refer to the cinch when talking about Western riding, but the names can be used interchangeably.
- The Weaver Latigo Cinch costs around $22 and can be used on Western saddles. It is made out of leather that is very flexible and ages nicely. The strap is 1.5 inches wide and 60 inches long.
- The Shoulder Relief Cinch was made to offer horses comfort and freedom in their movement. It costs between $140 and $170 and can be paired with multiple removable liners depending on your style and your horse's needs.
- HDR makes a chafeless girth that is made out of highly flexible leather to prevent your horse from experiencing discomfort. It can be used for English riding and costs around $63.
Saddle pads are placed underneath the saddle. These give the horse a layer of protection from the saddle and can be used as a decorative statement, especially if you are involved in specialty riding. Pick a saddle pad that works with your type of style of riding.
Saddle Pad to Purchase
- SmartPak makes a customizable pad that works with both English and Western saddles. It comes in 11 colors and costs around $20.
- State Line Tack sells a Western contour saddle pad for around $75. It is made out of wool and offers a wither relief notch for horses with high withers.
- Roma makes an all-purpose English saddle pad that comes in four color options. It costs around $25 and offers sweat-wicking comfort for your horse.
Stirrups are where you place your feet while riding. They come in different shapes and weights depending on your style. English stirrups are typically thinner and made out of metal while Western stirrups tend to be bulkier and made out of leather.
- Chick Saddlery sells a ton of Western and English stirrups. Metalab Engraved Stirrups are lightweight and cost around $65. They are made out of aluminum as well as leather and can be paired with Western saddles.
- Derby Originals sells stainless steel English stirrups that cost between $30 and $33 depending on what size you need. They offer sizes for youths, kids and adults and come with removable pads for extra grip.
Headgear and Bits
Headgear includes hackamores and bridles. Bridles typically use bits that some riders note offer more control. Hackamores or bitless bridles control the horse with pressure on the noseband, instead of inside their mouth. There are many bit options and the most common are snaffle and curb bits.
Headgear and Bit Choices
- Parelli offers a natural hackamore that can fit five sizes of horses. It costs around $80 and comes in six colors.
- The Beta Bitless Bridle costs between $90 and $110 depending on the color ordered. It is weather resistant and easy to care for.
- Kincade makes a brown bridle that costs around $39 and comes in horse and cob sizes. It is meant to be paired with a bit and comes with matching reins.
- Dutton Traditional offers a no-pinch snaffle bit that costs around $45. It weighs about two pounds and is eligible for free shipping.
Horse Handling Supplies
It's important to have a good lead rope and halter on hand. You will use these supplies when you tack up your horse, while grooming your horse, and when your horse has a vet or farrier appointment. These supplies offer you control while you are on the ground beside your horse.
- Professional's Choice halter costs around $40 and works great on challenging or young horses. Instead of connecting your halter and lead rope, this halter and lead rope come pre-attached.
- Centaur Fleece Cushion Breakaway Halter costs around $18 and comes in turquoise, navy and blue. It is highly rated for comfort and durability.
- Jeffers cotton lead rope comes in white, blue, black and red. It costs around $11 and is 10 feet long. The ends of the rope are sealed off to prevent any fraying.
Some headgear comes with reins while others will need to be purchased separately. Reins come in different styles such as loop, split, double, romel, draw, long and mecate. Loop reins can be used while riding English or Western style while split and romel are typically just used for Western-style riding. Double reins will need to be used with a double bridle. Draw reins attach to the bottom of the saddle which gives the rider more control, and long reins are used for driving. Mecate reins use a bitless bridle and have one long rope attached that can be used for leading as well as riding. However you decide to ride, finding reins that feel comfortable to you is crucial.
- Weaver makes split reins that come in three size options depending on your comfort and your horse's size. They cost around $33 and are made of extra heavy leather. These are pre-oiled and water resistant.
- Triple E makes an extra long rein made especially for trail riding. They cost around $14 and come in eight different color options. The reins are double braided and they have easy to use snaps on the end to hook them to the headgear of your choice.
- Joseph Sterling makes a black soft beaded rein used specifically for dressage. They cost around $60 for the 54-inch reins and $70 for the 64-inch reins. They are primarily made of leather, but also have rubber grips to help you hold on.
- SmartPak makes a raised laced rein that cost around $80. It comes in dark brown leather with three size options available. SmartPak offers free shipping and returns for these reins.
Finding High-Quality Tack
The initial cost of a horse can cause some sticker shock, but rest assured that many of the big-ticket items are a one-time purchase. Take your time and find tack that helps you properly care for your horse while enjoying the time you spend with her.