Every sport has a unique set of equipment or apparel, required to play or participate, in a safe and successful manner, and equestrian sports are no exception. Though we often refer to our jerseys, cleats, balls, pads, gloves, helmets, etc. as equipment, it is called tack for those involved in horse and equestrian sports.
The necessary tack needed for all equestrian activities, whether it is a leisurely ride, or for more intense sports includes:
- Saddles; in case you are not aware, saddles are essentially seats that are placed on the horse’s back, which are fastened by a girth or a cinch (depending on whether you’re English or American). The saddle is more complicated than just a seat for you. If it is not fitted correctly, for you and for the specific horse you are riding, it may cause injury to one or both of you. Things such as breastplates, breeching and saddle blankets can be purchased, depending on your needs, wants, budget and intended use.
- Halters and bridles are used to communicate with the horse, and as a pair are often referred to as headgear. There are different types for different purposes, but all are typically made of leather.
- Reins; reins, as you may or may not know, are like a steering wheel, and allow the rider the ability to communicate with their horse. Reins are leather straps attached to the outer parts of a bit, which goes in the horse’s mouth.
For the rider, there are also some apparel requirements such as:
- Riding pants; these are long pants with the flexibility to move, breathe and stretch, but that is long enough to prevent injury to the exposed skin. Often, these pants have stirrup-like bottoms, to ensure that the pants stay fastened to your feet, and do not move.
- Helmet; like any sport that involves riding, or operating a moving being or machine, a helmet protects the rider’s head from injury, if the rider falls, is kicked off, or somehow improperly dismounts from the horse.
- Boots; regarding shoes or footwear, riding boots help protect the rider’s feet, but also allow better control of the horse, as leather boots are more comfortable to use, and for the horse to feel, when you are trying to communicate.
- Clothing; try to avoid loose clothing or accessories like scarves or necklaces, as they are prone to get tangled, or caught in other equipment.
Depending on your sport of choice, the requirements concerning equipment and apparel differ. For example, polo players need different equipment as opposed to horse show participants. Be sure to understand the specific requirements for your preferred sport, and to practice safe riding for yourself and the horse.