Basic Horse Tack
Halter: Often made of rope or nylon, these are loosely worn by horses around their faces (equivalent perhaps to a human bracelet), with a lead rope attachable under their chin for – you guessed it – leading them places.
Bridle & Reins: Neither of these is of much use without the other. The bridle is similar to a halter except it also includes a bit in the horse’s mouth, which is in turn connected to reins, which you then hold for steering! Note: there are bit-less bridles, such as hackamores. There are also many many different kinds of bits. Many. Check back for a future blog post: “Which bit?”
Saddle Pad & Saddle: Again, one isn’t much use without the other. The saddle pad makes the saddle more comfortable for the horse, and the saddle is your seat! Of course, there is always the bareback pad. Test one out before you purchase. They can be slippery.
Girth: This strap is attached to the saddle, and serves to hold the saddle pad and the saddle (and by extension you!) in place. The girth goes around the horse’s girth (aka belly), as pictured to the left with saddle and saddle pad. In western tack it’s called the cinch. See above: A Rope Cinch. Be sure that it is centered. Rope cinches, even more than leather, can cause sore spots if they are off-center. Use the D-ring as your guide when tightening the cinch.
Breastplate: This is an additional strap, that goes around the horse’s chest, to keep the saddle more firmly in place (no sliding back or around to either side).
Martingale: An English piece of tack that keeps the horse from raising its head too high. Often used as a security measure, for unreliable mounts or for jumping competitions. Often attached via breastplate, but if there is no breastplate they can be attached around the neck and to the girth.