Breastplates For Horses
If your horse is prone to saddle slip, a breastplate might be the answer. A simple piece of equipment, it keeps the saddle from sliding back during faster work such as galloping or jumping.
There are many different types of breastplate available. Some are padded to distribute pressure across the withers and chest, while others have elasticated sections or sheepskin around areas that are at greater risk of rubbing. Most breastplates also come with a detachable running martingale attachment, which is useful for helping to control the horse during jumps.
The classic breastplate for English riding is the stockman’s or hunting breastplate, which has a “Y” shape and consists of a neck strap that runs up over the horse’s withers, a shoulder strap at the bottom of the yoke which crosses between the front legs and then attaches to the girth, and two straps at the top of the yoke that attach to D-rings on a saddle. This style is commonly used by endurance horses, hunters, eventers and show jumpers.
Y-shaped breastplates must be fitted carefully to ensure there is no gap in the leather going down between the horse’s front legs. They must also be tight enough to prevent the saddle from slipping, but loose enough for the horse to move its shoulders during trotting and galloping.
Some breastplates are made of heavier-weight materials, which can be more durable for the rider and horse. These breastplates tend to be more expensive than other options.
A breastplate can make a huge difference to the way that a horse feels under saddle. It’s important to get the right one, which is why it’s a good idea to consult a professional saddle fitter.
There are also different sizes of breastplates to suit a wide range of horses. For example, a small breastplate is often more suitable for young horses or ponies. The size of the breastplate can also influence the positioning of the saddle, as a larger breastplate might be more likely to interfere with the movement of the horse’s neck and shoulders.
Some breastplates are designed to be worn with a bridle, while others can be matched to different colours of tack. This is particularly helpful for riders who want to match their breastplate with the colour of their bridle, especially if they’re competing in an event.
The five-point breastplate is one of the most popular styles of breastplates for horses. It is secured to the tack at five points – the D-rings on the saddle, the girth straps and the girth under the belly. It’s a very secure design, which distributes pressure over a wider area and can be adjusted quite precisely. Some designs include elasticated sections, which are a great help during fast galloping. They can also be trimmed to increase comfort and reduce the likelihood of rubbing. It’s possible to use a five-point breastplate in conjunction with a martingale, with the yoke of the breastplate becoming the neck piece of the martingale and a loop at the bottom of the yoke for the girth strap.