Horse tack is the equipment of various kinds worn by horses whenever people use them for riding and shows. Horse tack is made up of saddles, stirrups, bridles, halters, bits, harness, and martingales. A horse also uses a horse blanket.
Saddle – the seat placed on the back of the horse. The saddle is attached to the horse by a girth or cinch which is a wide strap. Saddles come two main categories, the English saddle and the Western saddle.
The English saddle is used in every Olympic equestrian discipline. This has no horn and its panels are pairs of pads which are attached to the side. These pads can be filled with foam, air or even wool. The Western saddle is designed for Western riding and is also known as the cowboy saddle. Unlike other saddles, this doesn’t have pads of its own so it is used with a saddle blanket or separate pad to allow a safer and more comfortable fit for riders.
Parts of the saddle – the tree- base where everything is attached; the seat for riders; the pommel or swell (the slightly raised section at the front ); the cantle or back of the saddle; the stirrups in the feet of the rider are placed for leverage and support; the leather or fender (leather straps connecting the stirrups to the tree, and the D-ring ( the D shaped ring at the front of the saddle where other pieces of the horse tack are attached).
The breastplates and breastcollars are additional devices used to keep saddles from sliding back. These are used for faster-paced sports.
Bridle – an arrangement of straps around the head of the horse mainly used for communication by the rider with the horse. The bridle holds the bit attached to the reins. The bridle is used for riding, controlling the horse.
The bridle, also called the headstall, consists of: crownpiece, cheek piece, throatlatch, browband, noseband, cavesson and reins.
Halter – an arrangement of straps used as a headgear/headcollar to guide the horse. It fits over the back of the horses neck and around the mouth. When the rider pulls on the halter, the head of the horse turns towards the rider.
Unlike the bridle, the halter doesn’t have a bit placed on the mouth of the horse.
The bit and hackamore are placed at the head of the horse. Like the bridle, these are used for control and communication. The bit is placed at the mouth of the horse while the hackamore goes around the nose of the horse.
The basic types of bit are the curb bit, snaffle bit and the Pelham bit. Different bits offer different levels of control and pressure to the horse by the rider. The bit is designed to fit the needs and condition of the horse so as to serve its purpose properly.
The hackamore is made of rope, leather, cable or plastic and is used if the horse has dental or tongue problems and also in winter to avoid hurting or freezing the mouth of the horse.
Harness – a complicated arrangement of straps that attaches a horse to a cart or sleigh. Depending on the type of vehicle or load the horse is intended to draw, there are different kinds of harnesses.
Martingale – a strap that keeps the horse from putting its head above the point of control and keeps the horse from tossing its head in a way which puts the rider’s safety at risk. The martingale has various types such as the running martingale, standing martingale and the Irish martingale.
Horse blanket – warmth and comfort for the horse and to protect it from other elements. This is made especially to fit the body of the horse. It has straps crossing underneath the horse so that it stays in place when the horse moves. There is a hole in the appropriate place to accommodate the horse’s tail.
In nature the long hair of the horse keeps it warm in winter. But horses are preferred with short hair and it is believed that a horse blanket keeps it short. For shows it’s important that horses have short hair.