Updated: Mar 26
One of the most important things to consider when you want to ride your horse is the tack you use. Despite doing stable management for several years, I was shocked at how many options there were when I started looking into it properly.
First things first… the saddle. Carrie is my first horse and up until then, I’d never had to do tack shopping. Originally where she was kept, I planned to buy one of their saddles but things didn’t go so well. When Carrie was sent away, it was to a more Western style. There, I rode her in an Australian stock saddle which was great but also not that easy to buy in the UK. I tried out a western saddle but it didn’t suit me.
Finally, when we brought Carrie closer to home, I had to go and buy our own saddle. It can be so daunting looking into all the sizes and descriptions. My budget wasn’t huge but I was incredibly lucky to have a shop nearby (which has since closed) that sold saddles. I went in and I picked up the Kincade Synthetic saddle. It looked great. We changed the gullet and it seemed to fit Carrie. As I was getting more serious about riding, I started to dislike the saddle because it didn’t look right on her anymore. This was a few years later so her body had changed a bit too.
We then bought a saddle second-hand and that seemed to fit her well. Thing was, she didn’t like it. It worked out for a bit but it was also old and I had decided it was time to just bite the bullet and get a proper saddle that would fit both me and Carrie.
We got a recommended saddle fitter down (Andy The Saddleman) who was fantastic. The good news was, the saddles I had been using weren’t bad for Carrie so no damage was done. The saddle we ended up with is English made (Kent & Masters) and she seems to love it as do I. It's a lot more comfortable to sit in than the others but it’s a little heavier so she took some time getting used to it.
Problem number two was getting the right girth. Thankfully this was a lot cheaper than a saddle. I did, however, end up with five… not because of needing them but because Carrie had a preference. The first one I used was a humane girth but she hated it to the point she would buck a lot to get rid of it. The next one I tried was a leather girth but she wasn't too fond of that either. Thirdly, I tried just a standard, cheap cotton girth. She liked that one but the saddle kept slipping every time I tried to get on, no matter how tight the girth was. Fourth was a fleece girth but neither of us liked it or used it much. Finally, I went to the tack shop, asked for their recommendation which turned out to be the Pro-lite GP girth. She loves it! The difference in her behaviour was tremendous.
Now we move to the head. If you’ve watched any of our videos then you know that bridling has been a huge issue for us. I bought the Micklem multi-purpose bridle for her so that we could go bitless. This is supposed to be the most comfortable for them and she hated it. She would toss her head, snort, and just get really upset. I checked with a trainer that it wasn’t hurting her and it didn’t appear to be. In the end, I bought a cheap standard bridle to practice bridling her and she loved it. We haven’t had a single problem with it.
When it comes to the bit, we use a sweet-iron eggbutt snaffle. We used a happy-mouth straight-bar to avoid hitting her teeth but it’s quite thick so as soon as she wasn’t afraid of bridling, she was much happier with a metal bit.
As you can see, it took a long time as well as a lot of trial and error to figure out the tack situation. In an ideal world, you want to get professional advice if you have any doubts to make sure that your horse is as comfortable as possible. Ultimately though, it can take a few tries until you find the right tack for you and your horse.