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Horse Tack Explained

author
Maria Johnson
• Tuesday, 17 November, 2020
• 7 min read

Saddles, stirrups, bridles, halters, reins, bits, harnesses, martingales, and breastplates are all forms of horseback. Stirrups are supports for the rider's feet that hang down on either side of the saddle.

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Contents

First, most riders wear riding boots with a heel and a smooth sole. Western saddles have wide stirrup treads that make it more difficult for the foot to become trapped.

The English stirrup (or “iron”) has several design variations which are either shaped to allow the rider's foot to slip out easily or are closed with a very heavy rubber band. The invention of stirrups was of great historic significance in mounted combat, giving the rider secure foot support while on horseback.

A nylon halter/head collar Bridles, sycamores, halters or head collars, and similar equipment consist of various arrangements of straps around the horse's head, and are used for control and communication with the animal. Some horses, particularly stallions, may have a chain attached to the lead rope and placed over the nose or under the jaw to increase the control provided by a halter while being led.

Most of the time, horses are not ridden with a halter, as it offers insufficient precision and control. In Australian and British English, a halter is a rope with a spliced running loop around the nose and another over the poll, used mainly for unbroken horses or for cattle.

A show halter is made from rolled leather and the lead attaches to form the chin piece of the nose band. An under halter is a lightweight halter or head collar which is made with only one small buckle, and can be worn under a bridle for tethering a horse without unpacking.

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Double bridles are usually seen in the top levels of dressage, but also are seen in certain types of show hack and Saddle seat competition. Some related styles of headgear that control a horse with a nose band rather than a bit are known as witless bridles.

Some riders also like to use them in the winter to avoid putting a frozen metal bit into a horse's mouth. Like fitted bridles, noseband-based designs can be gentle or harsh, depending on the hands of the rider.

Reins consist of leather straps or rope attached to the outer ends of a bit and extend to the rider's or driver's hands. On some types of harnesses there might be supporting rings to carry the reins over the horse's back.

When pairs of horses are used in drawing a wagon or coach it is usual for the outer side of each pair to be connected to reins and the inside of the bits connected by a short bridging strap or rope. The driver carries “four-in-hand” or “six-in-hand” being the number of reins connecting to the pairs of horses.

Not only do they break easily, but, being attached to a bit in the horse's sensitive mouth, a great deal of pain can be inflicted if a bridled horse sets back against being tied. The mouthpiece of the bit does not rest on the teeth of the horse, but rather rests on the gums or “bars” of the horse's mouth in an interdental space behind the front incisors and in front of the back molars.

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Snaffle bits commonly have a single jointed mouthpiece and act with a nutcracker effect on the bars, tongue and occasionally roof of the mouth. Leverage bits have shanks coming off the mouthpiece to create leverage that applies pressure to the poll, chin groove and mouth of the horse are in the category of curb bits.

Conversely, a very severe bit, in the right hands, can transmit subtle commands that cause no pain to the horse. Bit commands should be given with only the quietest movements of the hands, and much steering and stopping should be done with the legs and seat.

A breast strap harness has a wide leather strap going horizontally across the horses' breast, attached to the traces and then to the load. A harness that is used to support shafts, such as on a cart pulled by a single horse, will also have a saddle attached to the harness to help the horse support the shafts and breaching to brake the forward motion of the vehicle, especially when stopping or moving downhill.

An English-style breastplate with elastic and a running martingale attachment Horse wearing a breastplate Breastplates, breast collars or breast girths attach to the front of the saddle, cross the horse's chest, and usually have a strap that runs between the horse's front legs and attaches to the girth. They are also seen in Western riding events, particularly in rodeo, reining and cutting, where it is particularly important to prevent a saddle from shifting.

A martingale is a piece of equipment that keeps a horse from raising its head too high. Various styles can be used as a control measure, to prevent the horse from avoiding rider commands by raising its head out of position; or as a safety measure to keep the horse from tossing its head high or hard enough to smack its rider in the face.

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They are allowed in many types of competition, especially those where speed or jumping may be required, but are not allowed in most “flat” classes at horse shows, though an exception is made in a few classes limited exclusively to young or “green” horses who may not yet be fully trained. German martingale or Market Scarborough: This design consists of a split fork that comes up from the chest, runs through the rings of the bit and attaches to the reins of the bridle between the bit and the rider's hand.

It acts in a manner similar to a running martingale, but with greater leverage. It is not usually considered show legal and is used primarily as a training aid.

Irish martingale: Unlike the previous designs, this very simple “martingale” does not control the height of the horse's head, but merely keeps the reins from going over the horse's head in the result of a fall. It consists of a piece of leather with a ring on each end through which each rein runs.

A horse wearing a running martingale: This design adds leverage to a bit and features a split fork beginning at the chest with a ring on each side of the fork through which the reins pass, enabling the rider to more easily keep the horse under control, but also allowing the horse freedom of movement when needed. Fitted correctly, the running martingale only controls how high the horse carries its head when the rider tightens the reins.

The standard adjustment of a running martingale is to set the rings at a height where they do not engage and add leverage to the reins when the horse carries its head at the proper height. Sometimes a running martingale may be adjusted at a greater or lesser length depending on the needs of the horse and rider.

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Standing martingale: A design with one strap that runs from the girth or the chest and attaches to the nose band of the bridle. Standard adjustment of a standing martingale allows enough slack to bring the strap to the horse's throat latch when the animal has its head in a relaxed, natural position.

Unlike the running martingale, it limits the freedom of the horse's head, no matter how long or short the reins may be. There are other training devices that fall loosely in the martingale category, in that they use straps attached to the reins or bit which limit the movement of the horse's head or add leverage to the rider's hands in order to control the horse's head.

Common devices of this nature include the over check, the carbon, DE Rogue, grazing reins, draw reins and the “batting harness” or batting rig “. The Whole Horse Catalog: Revised and Updated New York:Fireside 1998 ISBN 0-684-83995-4 p. 167-178 ^ Price, Steven D.

The Whole Horse Catalog: Revised and Updated New York:Fireside 1998 ISBN 0-684-83995-4 p. 156-159 ^ a b Price, Steven D. The Whole Horse Catalog: Revised and Updated New York:Fireside 1998 ISBN 0-684-83995-4 p. 158 ^ Price, Steven D.

The Whole Horse Catalog: Revised and Updated New York:Fireside 1998 ISBN 0-684-83995-4 p. 153 ^ Price, Steven D. The Whole Horse Catalog: Revised and Updated New York:Fireside 1998 ISBN 0-684-83995-4 p. 194 ^ Price, Steven D.

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The Whole Horse Catalog: Revised and Updated New York:Fireside 1998 ISBN 0-684-83995-4 p. 149-159 ^ Edwards, Edwin Hartley The Complete Book of Bits and Batting Newton Abbot, Devonshire:David & Charles 2004 ISBN 0-7153-1163-8 p. 52-58 ^ Edwards, Edwin Hartley The Complete Book of Bits and Batting Newton Abbot, Devonshire:David & Charles 2004 ISBN 0-7153-1163-8 p. 91-93 ^ Edwards, Edwin Hartley The Complete Book of Bits and Batting Newton Abbot, Devonshire:David & Charles 2004 ISBN 0-7153-1163-8 p. 87-89 ^ Price, Steven D. The Whole Horse Catalog: Revised and Updated New York:Fireside 1998 ISBN 0-684-83995-4 p. 179-181 ^ a b c Price, Steven D.

The Whole Horse Catalog: Revised and Updated New York:Fireside 1998 ISBN 0-684-83995-4 p. 163-165 ^ Edwards, Edwin Hartley The Complete Book of Bits and Batting Newton Abbot, Devonshire:David & Charles 2004 ISBN 0-7153-1163-8 p. 133 Written by Katherine Blockader Definition: Horse tack is any equipment used to ride a horse, such as saddle, girth, cinches, bridles, martingales.

Tack may also refer to equipment like halters, lead ropes, whips, long reins, wraps and other items used in handling and caring for horses. Putting a saddle and bridle on your horse is referred to as tacking up.

At the last minute, they decided to quickly tack up and for a ride. Horseback riding is a great example of humans and horses working together to achieve a goal.

However, a special kind of equipment called tack is needed to go horseback riding. The saddle supports the rider and makes the ride more comfortable, but it also helps the horse.

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Cowboys could use the horn to help lasso cattle, but they could also use it to carry a rope or whip. English saddles were designed to let the horse move better over long distances.

If someone were trying to cover a long distance on horseback over hills and streams, the English saddle is the one that would be most comfortable for both horse and rider. Warriors used stirrups to help keep them on their horse during combat.

For that, riders will need to put a bridle, bit, and set of reins on the horse's head. It comfortably fits over the horse's ears and around its jaw and nose, kind of like a collar for dogs or cats.

Once on, different pieces of equipment can be attached to the bridle to help lead the horse around. Reins are a long strip of leather that attaches to either side of the bridle, near the horse's mouth, and loops around the back of the horse's neck to where the rider can reach.

By gently pulling on either side of the reins, the rider can tell the horse which direction to go. On English bridles, the reins are clipped together under the horse's chin to keep them from swaying around.

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A snaffle bit is made up of one or two pieces of rounded metal with rings on both ends. Some snaffle bits might even have a layer of rubber around the metal to make it more comfortable in the horse's mouth.

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