Horse Tack

Basic Guide To Your Horse Needs

The horse tack you select for your horse is one of the most important decisions you have to make. Ill fitting or misusing horse tack can have disastrous results.

If you show your horse you will likely have more items in your tack box than if you didn't. You may want to figure out some sort of checklist or organization system as you buy more and more items. Examples of some tack items that you may have in your tack box include:

Saddles, bridles, halters, leads, lunge lines, blankets, sheets, and saddle pads.

horse-tack11If you are involved in showing your horse, you may have duplicates of any or all of the above items. You will likely need certain items to be used specifically for showing. Yes there is somewhat of an added expense when you make the choice to show your horse. However, there are ways control the expenses incurred with horse showing (which we will discuss a little further down).

Knowing where to go and how to pick out the right horse tack for your needs is also very important.

Tack Selection

When it comes to picking and choosing both western horse show tack and english horse show tack, there are some things to keep in mind:

  • What events or classes do you plan on showing in?

  • Where will you be showing and what kind of show is it?

  • Is this piece of horse tack going to be used sufficiently in the future?

  • Where are you planning on buying your horse tack?

  • How can I make sure this will fit my horse and I?

In the long run your horse tack cost will add up. When you make choices about which saddle to buy or bridle to use, make sure you choose wisely to make the most of the money you spend. Remember just because it is pretty or shiny, doesn't mean it is the best choice for you.

WHERE you choose to buy your horse tack is an important question to answer. There are many sources, both online and off, for you to consider when on the search for a new piece of horse tack. Generally a great offline resource would be the local tack shops. Hopefully you have access to one in your area with helpful and friendly staff ready to answer your questions.

I tend to use our local shop as a first choice when shopping for a new piece of tack. However, sometimes this may be the more expensive way to go. There are other options for shopping in which you can find some discount tack. Don't rule out local public tack sales or auctions, online searches for used tack, or checking for a used tack department at the tack shop.

If you are considering trying a new brand of tack or a new piece of equipment that you have not yet used with your horse, check for information on that particular item. Searching for tack reviews can be very helpful in determining how to use a new piece of equipment and if it is appropriate for you.

Being an informed shopper and answering the questions above will get you started on a smart selection process. If you are new to horses and horse shows this may seem like a foreign language. It is our hope that we can help answer some of the more important questions to help you through this process.

Check out our product reviews for Dover Saddlery and join in the discussion by submitting your own!

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Riding your dream horse will likely require you to use a saddle. Finding and choosing a saddle is not only an important decision, it can be a complicated one.

Horse saddles come in many shapes and sizes; you first must ask yourself, which particular saddle will meet your needs. The saddle you select for show is different than the saddle you select for exercising your horse at home or trail riding.

horse-tack2There are specific saddles built for specific events. For example, a western pleasure saddle is built differently than a barrel racing saddle. Yet they can both be considered western saddles. Also, a dressage saddle is built differently than a close contact saddle, and they can both be classified as english saddles.

Along with the different types of saddles, there are also different sizes and fits for each saddle. Ensuring a proper fit for your horse can prevent larger problems in the future.


Another highly recommended piece of horse tack if you intend on riding your horse. A horse bridle consists of different pieces connected together. The three main pieces in a bridle are a headstall, bit, and reins.

Headstalls vary in type according to their purpose in riding. There are large differences comparing english and western headstalls. Headstalls generally consist of similar elements including a crown piece and cheek pieces on either side. Varying components include a throatlatch (is common, but not always found on some western headstalls), noseband, and flash.

Reins are typically longer and kept split for western style riding or shorter and fastened together for english style riding. Although the easiest part of the bridle to shop for, I would recommend finding a secure and sturdy set of reins.

Bits are quite complicated to select when putting your bridle together. There are many theories about which bits work best for different horses and styles of riding. I recommend consulting a professional when selecting a bit for your horse.


In cooler weather, a horse blanket can help keep your horse warm and comfortable. There are blankets for turnout or for the stable. If you have a horse that spends a large amount of time outdoors, a turnout blanket may help keep him/her warm when the temperatures drop. Usually a when your horse grows a winter coat it is sufficient to keep them warm through most of the winter.

Use of blankets both inside and out can be more of a personal preference. If you have a horse you intend on showing at some point during the colder months of the year, stable blankets are more commonly used to prevent a horse from fully growing a winter coat. However, a horse lacking a winter coat during the colder months will need to be maintained with a suitable stable blanket at all times.

This is another item of your horse tack that will need to be properly fitted to prevent discomfort and possible rubbing off of your horse's coat.



Nylon, leather, or breakaway. A halter is important for leading your horse around safely. You will likely have an everyday use halter for your horse. This is another piece of horse tack that is largely chosen by personal preference. The more common halters I've seen are nylon or rope halters. Some may choose to use leather as well.

If you show your horse in-hand, you will need a horse show halter. Typically, a show halter is made of leather with silver plating.

Finding and fitting one is relatively easy. Most halters are also easily adjustable.

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