Tack for horse riding

Owning a horse that’s to be ridden requires you to have horse tack. Here we run through the key items including, the bridle, saddle and more.

The Bridle

Browband: The part of the bridle isn’t adjustable so it’s important that you have the right size – it should be big enough to allow the headpiece to lie comfortably behind the ears.

The browband should also lie just below the base of the ears, without cutting into them - a tight browband can pull the whole bridle forward onto the sensitive area at the back of your horse’s ear.

As a general rule of thumb you should be able to comfortably run a finger around the inside edge of your browband.

chestnut horse in bridle

Cheekpieces: These play an important role – they determine the level of communication between you and your horse.

Ideally, the cheekpiece should fasten half way down the strap on the headpiece, or in line with edge of your horse’s eye.

So if your headpiece has 10 billet holes, you’d want the cheekpiece to fasten on hole five.

If your bit is fitted correctly and the cheekpieces finish high up into the pressure zone near the browband, it’ll be more comfortable for your horse to change them to shorter ones moving the buckles away from this pressure point.

Throatlash: When it’s done up you should be able to fit the width of four fingers between the throatlash and your horse’s jawbone.

If the throatlash is too tight it will put pressure on his windpipe when he flexes to the bit.

Noseband: A standard cavesson noseband needs sufficient clearance (two fingers width) below the bottom ends of your horse’s cheekbones.

There are a number of arteries where the cheekbones finish, so for greater comfort, this will help you to make sure that your cavesson misses them.

Flash nosebands are also popular – the flash strap fastens below the bit and prevents your horse from opening his mouth and evading the bit.

The flash strap shouldn’t be fitted too tightly and should only come into play if your horse opens his mouth.

The bit

Bit: A correctly fitting bit can often be over looked and, as bitting expert Heather Hyde from Neue Schule reveals, there’s more to consider than you might have thought.

Your bit is one of the lines of communication between you and your horse and so taking time to check the fit of your bit will go a long way to improving the performance of your horse.

When assessing the fit of your horse’s bit, you should check it both with and without rein contact as many bits change position once you have a contact on your reins.

Did you know?
Having a symmetrical bridle is likely to make your horse more comfortable and improve his freedom of movement. So opt for a bridle where the elements fasten on both sides (not just the left) and make sure that the buckles are done up evenly on both sides.


Bits explained

For every type 

The girth

A properly fitting girth will not only hold your saddle securely in place it should be comfortable for your horse to wear and allow him to move freely.

As it’s used with your saddle, when you’re saddle fitter is out, ask him to have a look at your girth too.

Girths are made out of a variety of different materials and most are shaped for greater comfort.

The saddlecloth

As well as having your saddle correctly fitted, it’s just as important to consider the fit or your numnah or saddlecloth too.

The impact of a poorly fitting saddlecloth can have a big effect on your horse, potentially rubbing and causing discomfort.

  1. Choosing the right size and shape (dressage, jump, GP) of saddlecloth to suit your saddle will help you get a good fit. Using the wrong shape and size may result in your saddle sitting on the binding of the saddlecloth causing pressure points and rubbing.
  2. For comfort the saddlecloth should follow the contours of your horse’s back and sit up into the gullet of your saddle. If it’s cut in a straight line it will press down on his withers and back causing discomfort.
  3. Once fitted there should be approximately one inch visible around the whole of your saddle to ensure it’s not sitting on the binding causing sore points.
  4. Fasten the straps to your saddle to hold the saddlecloth in place.
  5.  If you’re not sure which pad is right to use ask your saddle fitter for advice.

Top Tip
Have your saddlecloth to hand when your saddle fitter is checking your saddle.
He’ll be able to consider the pad you’re using when he’s checking the fit.

The saddle

Expert advice from a saddle fitter is vital when buying a new saddle

Expert advice from a saddle fitter is vital when buying a new saddle

A correctly fitting saddle is not only more comfortable for you and your horse; it makes riding much easier too.

We’d always recommend that a registered qualified saddle fitter comes to check your saddle to ensure it’s fitting well at least twice a year.


Does his saddle fit?

Find out how to check