Equestrian Essentials: Horse Riding Equipment & Horse Clothing 101
Equestrian Rider Essentials
Riding horses is nothing less than magical. There is absolute joy in feeling their powerful muscles respond to your every wish and command. Whether you are ambling along a country lane, galloping across a white sand beach, or taking a tight turn as you approach a challenging fence, the interaction that occurs between horse and rider defies description. Using the correct horse riding equipment is only one way to ensure that your riding experiences are positive, productive, and safe.
Of course, before you ever get on a horse, you have to make sure you have all of the equipment you will need. There are many essential pieces of horse riding equipment and horse clothing that will made a huge difference in keeping your horse healthy, keeping yourself safe, and both of you looking sleek and elegant. To attain this elegance, you must first groom your horse regularly to keep them looking and feeling their very best.
Essential horse riding equipment and horse clothing must be purchased before you get your horse. If you are taking lessons, most barns will provide everything you need, at first. Eventually, of course, you will want your own English riding gear and your own horse. Before you can begin grooming your horse, you must first collect them from their stall, corral, or pasture, using a halter and lead line. These two items are crucial pieces of horse riding equipment. Be sure to have a couple of extras on hand.
The Basic Grooming Kit
Grooming supplies are best kept in a bucket or caddy with a sturdy handle. To begin grooming your horse, you will want to use a curry comb to break up the loose hair, dead skin cells, dirt, mud, and insect larva that collect on your horse’s coat. Next, a stiff body brush is used to remove all the debris. A soft, finishing brush provides the shine and gloss. A softer, face brush or a small ear brush can then be used in the more delicate regions.
Your horse’s hooves must be cleaned out daily with a hoof pick and then treated with hoof oil or some other hoof treatment to avoid cracks and splits. The hoof pick will remove dirt and small rocks that can lead to lameness and the increases air flow will reduce the likelihood of fungal growth that can lead to thrush. When you bathe your horse, glycerin soap is your best choice. You can remove the excess water with a scraper. A rubber massage glove is always appreciated by horses due to the sensitive nature of their skin. Mane and tail combs are a necessity for an attractive horse. If you will be showing, a mane-thinning knife and a pulling comb are very handy. If you need grooming tips, there’s nearly always someone around the barn willing to answer your questions. If not, you’re at the wrong barn!
Turnout Blankets And Turnout Sheets
If you will not be tacking up your horse right away after grooming, it is a good idea to protect all of your hard work with horse clothing. Just as for people, horse clothing varies with the weather. Horses that spend most of their time outside enjoy the warmth and comfort provided by a turnout blanket. In milder weather, a turnout sheet will suffice. After a tough workout, the breathable and moisture-wicking protection of a dress sheet or cooler can protect your horse’s appearance and good looks by keeping them warm and dry.
Stable sheets offer extra warmth in the stall and they are the perfect cover for when your horse is trailering. Come summer time, flysheets provide relief and protection from biting flies and other insects. High quality horse clothing is made from rip stop fabrics that are both durable and breathable. Many products also provide water resistance to keep their coats clean in bad weather.
Saddles And Saddle Pads
Saddle pads come in a variety of sizes, shapes, materials,
and thicknesses. Saddle pad design varies depending upon the style of riding
being done and according to the specific needs of the horse. Saddle pads absorb
moisture and prevent rubbing and chaffing from the saddle. Extra thick saddle
pads can provide protection for horses with injuries or sensitive backs.
Saddles also come in a variety of styles. There are general purpose saddles and saddles specific to dressage, hunt seat, eventing, and cross country, just to name a few. The design differences encompass the depth of the seat, the flatness of the saddle, the amount of contact, knee roll size, and many other factors. Most beginners start with an all purpose saddle. It is important that a saddle fit the horse at least as much as the rider. Of course, the saddle won’t stay on the horse by itself. You will need to use a girth to attach it securely.
Bits And Bridles
The bridle is the piece of riding equipment that allows you to control where your horse goes and helps you to stop them when you want, most of the time. Nearly all English bridles feature a cavesson noseband. The classic English bridle is called a snaffle bridle. The snaffle bridle employs a single bit and a single set of reins. The Phlegm bridle also carries a single bit but it employs a double set of reins. At the highest level of riding, a double bridle may be used. Double bridles use two bits and two sets of reins.
Snaffle bits (right) are the most commonly seen in the lesson arena. There are hundreds of types of bits to choose from. Selecting the best bit for your horse takes skill and experience. Reins take quite a bit of abuse (no pun intended) and should be checked for cracks and other signs of wear regularly. Reins can be flat, laced, or plaited, and they are normally made of leather. Occasionally you will see webbed nylon reins in the training arena. You can gain mechanical advantage by using draw reins or running reins, which are passed through the bit rings, between the rider and the girth.
Lunging (also spelled longeing) is an excellent way to school and exercise your horse. You will need a lunge line and a lunge whip. Side reins can be attached from the saddle to the bridle or to a surcingle to provide extra control. It is best to teach both yourself and your horse how to use a lunge line in a round pen or arena until you both get used to it.
Other common articles of horse clothing and horse riding equipment include leg wraps, hoof boots, and splint boots to protect vital legs and hooves. Crops, bats, whips, and spurs are useful training aids when used responsibly. Stirrup leathers and pads tend to wear out and should be checked for damage regularly. Stirrup irons, however, tend to last longer than most riders!
A breastplate can protect your horse. Standing, running, and breastplate martingales are useful pieces of riding equipment, especially if your horse tends to toss his head as you ride. There are many little pieces of horse riding equipment sand horse clothing that can make a big difference in the time you spend at the barn and with your horse, making the work easier, the training more productive, and the riding more enjoyable.
Taking Care Of Your Horse Riding Equipment
Most horse riding equipment is made from leather, which means it must be kept clean and oiled. Sweat, mud, water, and dirt are best removed from your leather horse riding equipment as soon as possible. Taking good care of your horse riding equipment means regularly cleaning your tack with glycerin or saddle soap and moisturizing with mink oil or some other leather treatment. This will prevent cracks and splits that always seem to occur at the worst possible moment. Well-made leather horse riding equipment will last a good long while only if it is properly cared for.
A happy horse is far easier and more enjoyable to ride than a fearful, frustrated, tired, or angry horse. Keeping a ready supply of horse treats on hand should always be a part of your standard horse riding equipment. Everyone knows that horses love carrots and apples. In addition to the highly portable but not very durable treats, there are many types of commercially available horse treats that will survive your pocket far better and for longer periods of time. As much as your horse may beg for that sugar cube or other candy products, those sugary treats are just as bad for your horse as they are for you and should be avoided.
Taking the time to shop for and purchase only the highest quality, best fitting horse riding equipment and horse clothing will ensure that both you and your horse will look and feel your best, both in and out of the arena!