The list of equipment that you need to start riding a horse can seem daunting. But don’t let it scare you away — some items are simply necessities, and others may be more optional depending on your discipline or the horses you ride. The most necessary items include a saddle, bridle and reins, which allow you to control your horse while riding and to communicate with him.
Most riders use a saddle pad to help cushion their saddle and provide additional support for the horse. The saddle pad can be fitted or rectangular and should be the correct size for the saddle. The saddle pad should not interfere with the fit of the saddle or rub on the horse’s back or belly. The stirrup irons should also be well-padded to prevent them from getting caught on something as you mount and dismount. The best stirrup pads are made of leather, which is breathable and can be soaked occasionally with neatsfoot oil to keep the leather soft.
Bridle and Reins
The bridle is the metal part that goes in the horse’s mouth, and there are many different types of bridles for different disciplines and purposes. For example, english bridles will often have a headpiece and throatlash which supports the bit and provides greater leverage when the rider pulls on the reins. On the other hand, western bridles will usually have a noseband but not a throatlash.
Reins are a primary means of communication between the rider and the horse and can be made from leather, rubber or nylon. Most experienced riders prefer leather reins because they are more comfortable and offer better feel for the horse. The reins are connected to the bridle via a ring on one end and the rider’s hands on the other.
A breastplate fastens to the front of the horse and keeps the saddle from slipping off, either forward or to the side. A breastplate is used with both English and western saddles and can be either padded or plain.
A martingale is a strap that goes over the horse’s chest and connects to the center of the chest ring on the breastplate or to the girth buckle. It acts as a safety net in case the rider loses control of the horse by pulling too hard on the reins. Martingales are typically not allowed at horse shows, but they can be useful for beginners or for training young horses.
First Aid Supplies
Most people who take lessons at a local stable will have access to a first aid kit that contains bandages, gauze, saline solution, tack cleaner and more. However, if you want to be prepared for a serious accident or for emergencies while out in the field, you will need to purchase your own first aid kit. Some first aid kits are designed specifically for equestrian use, but you can also buy a first aid kit that will work just fine in other fields or for other animals.