One thing that you must decide is whether you will be riding English or Western. There is a distinct difference between the two disciplines, and the required tack will depend on which one you choose. Some people are drawn to Western riding because there is not as much tack needed for the horse. If you are into barrel racing and rodeos, this is definitely for you. On the other hand, if you prefer jumping and fox hunts, or dressage, then English tack would be the way to go. No matter which one you choose, you are looking at a costly initial investment, but one that is well worth it, because properly fitting tack is essential. If you require help with fitting your horse’s bridle or choosing the right bit, it is best to consult a professional. There are also a lot of resources on the internet that will teach you how to measure for your horse’s bridle, etc., but it is best to at least check with somebody with prior knowledge (perhaps a friend who already owns a horse.) The main thing is, once you purchase your tack, if you take care of it properly, it will last for many years to come.
Tack is generally made from either leather or nylon. Leather will require regular cleaning, but the upkeep of nylon may be a bit easier in that it may be washed. Some of the different pieces of tack your horse will need includes saddles, a girth (English) or cinches (Western), stirrups, bridles, saddle pads, and in some instances breastplates and a running or standing martingale, halters, harnesses, lunge lines, and lead ropes – the list goes on, but those are the basics. Three types of bridles that you will need to choose from include the hackamore, the single bridle and the double bridle. There are also choices when it comes to girths or cinches, including nylon, leather, string and webbing. Depending on your riding discipline, you may prefer a pleasure saddle for leisure riding, training saddles if you need to break your horse, side saddles, military saddles, polo saddles, jumping saddles, roping saddles, endurance riding saddles and dressage saddles, among others.
Choosing the right equipment for your horse will keep both you and your horse safe and comfortable. And please don’t forget about your own safety – I always recommend wearing a good quality riding helmet as part of the essentials. Also, remember not to ride in sneakers, as they can slide all the way through the stirrup, causing a hazardous situation for the rider. Your riding shoes or boots should always have a little heel on them to prevent that problem.