The British Horse Society (BHS) has partnered up with The Society of Master Saddlers (SMS) to share advice for equestrians to keep riding safely, with correctly fitted tack. This comes as the industry continues to face obstacles, including the cost of living crisis.

Through this partnership, the BHS and The SMS have produced a series of educational materials to help horse owners and riders navigate these challenges. The resources strive to raise awareness of how to fit tack correctly, as well as how riders can make appropriate, cost-cutting decisions without compromising their horse’s health and welfare.

“We are very conscious of the cost-of-living crisis and want to make sure that all equestrians can be confident they are purchasing equipment or tack that is safe and fit for purpose,” said Gabby Madders, Welfare Campaigns Officer at the BHS. “Far too often, we see ill-fitted equipment being used. In fact, new research has found that one in four horses’ bits don’t fit properly. With a growing body of evidence revealing that poorly fitted tack can have a negative effect on the welfare and performance of ridden horses, this partnership will be critical to ensuring people are purchasing tack that is affordable but safe.

“Taking these steps will be essential when it comes to protecting and nurturing that very important relationship we all have with our horses; a bond that so many people would be lost without.”

The BHS and SMS are urging equestrians to start their saddle search with a SMS Qualified Saddle Fitter or their local saddlery shop. Both will often have a stock of second-hand saddles which will have undergone a series of safety checks.

Through this partnership, they are also recommending equestrians to always have the purchased saddle fitted by a SMS fitter, who will be able to re-flock or adjust it in order to ensure the best possible fit on the horse.  What appears to be a cheap saddle can work out to be very expensive if it’s damaged or doesn’t fit and causes discomfort to your horse, the charity warned.

The same advice is encouraged for any other items of second-hand tack. Whether it’s a bridle, stirrup leathers or a girth, the BHS and SMS are advising horse riders to be vigilant and to check any equipment over thoroughly for any signs of damage or wear.

“We are pleased to be working in partnership with the BHS on a variety of projects educating their members about saddlery fit and care in relation to welfare and safety of both horse and rider,” said Hazel Morley, CEO at The Society of Master Saddlers. “We encourage everyone when looking for new saddlery equipment to contact one of our registered fitters or saddlers to ensure they will not make costly mistakes, whether financial or otherwise.

“Our members are seeing an increase in clients contacting them to check and adjust their current saddlery rather than necessarily purchasing an alternative saddle or bridle. We feel that this increase is in part due to the cost of living having an effect but also through our education and horse owners valuing horse welfare.”

To learn more about this partnership and the BHS’s guidance on tack affordability, click here.

To find out more information on The Society of Master Saddlers and to find your nearest SMS member, click here.

The BHS Horse Care and Welfare Team are able to offer further advice. You can contact the team on 02476 840517 or email

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