Horse riding is fantastic; the wind through your hair and the open air rushing past – but have you ever thought of the equipment you might need for that ride?
Not many people have.
Don’t stress; we’ve got you covered with our horse-riding equipment list. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, this list will come in handy.
So, strap on your boots and let’s get into it!
For the Rider
Number one on our horse riding equipment list is a helmet.
Horse riding safety 101: ALWAYS wear a helmet. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been riding for five years or five minutes – a horse-riding helmet is a must.
Regardless of how well you know your horse, riding is a sport, and it can be dangerous if the right precautions aren’t taken. If you fall from a horse, your head is the most at risk in terms of trauma.
Getting your helmet is just the beginning, though. The fit is the most important; you need the helmet to be secure while remaining comfortable. This means measuring your head to find the perfect riding helmet.
Finding the right shirt for horseback riding is important. While there is much more flexibility in the type of shirt when compared with pants, getting the right fit is vital.
You don’t want a shirt to constrict your movement, as this can affect your position and make things uncomfortable.
For outdoor rides, it’s always best to look for a riding shirt with UV protection. It’s also not a bad idea to go with a shirt that is breathable and sweat-resistant, to prevent any chafing.
But, if you’re stuck in a bind, you can ride in any shirt. It just might not be as comfortable as a shirt made specifically for horseback riding.
Stable boots (pardon the pun) are one of the most important bits of riding gear.
Riding boots have a little heel and textured soles, which keeps your foot in place in the stirrup. Having a firm toe box is also vital – a horse stepping on your toe is extremely painful!
Tall boots are generally used for show, but they can be helpful at riding schools because they stop the saddle from pinching your legs.
Alternatively, short boots or paddock boots are more multi-purpose and made for comfort. Keep in mind that you’ll need to use half chaps when wearing paddock boots to give you improved grip and leg protection.
Breeches are pants made specifically for horseback riding. They’re made of a stretchy thin fabric that allows movement while riding. There is also no inside seam to stop legs from chafing.
What makes riding pants ideal is that the fabric grips tightly to the leg. You’ll use your legs to communicate with your horse – for example, squeezing your knees indicates that you want to slow down.
Riding pants are tight, so it’s something to get used to, but trust us, once you get going with your ride and the wind is whipping through your hair, you won’t notice it.
Staying safe is the name of the game in horse riding. We want both the rider and horse to have fun, but safety always comes first.
A safety vest is a great way to protect you if you fall. It’s not just for beginners; a fall can happen at any time, and if you’re not protected, you can get seriously injured.
Basically, a safety vest protects your torso if you fall. Also, it protects you from horse hooves if your companion gets a fright. Remember, horses are animals and if they get spooked, they will instinctually respond, rider present or not.
There are a variety of riding vests available. Some are standard with padding while others have extra features like air pockets for added protection.
Some don’t enjoy safety vests because they do add extra bulk. In our book, a little extra bulk is worth it if it protects you from serious injury.
Holding leather or rubber reins can get uncomfortable when you first start riding. Not to mention, the newer the reins, the more time they take to ride in. Ideally, reigns should be soft and supple, but this takes time.
Also, hands sweat while riding and this can make the reins slippery. This may be a safety issue for some.
That’s where gloves come in. Riding gloves cover the hands, fitting tightly to the fingers. This makes grabbing the reins easier and much more comfortable.
Again, finding the right fit is important, so don’t rush through the fitting process. Find what feels good and go from there – but don’t go for anything bulky. Riding gloves should almost be like a second skin for your hands- tight, and comfortable.
For the Horse
Reins and bridle
The bridle is one of the most essential pieces of horse riding equipment. It’s the gear on the horse’s head that allows the rider to communicate with them throughout the ride.
There are four elements to the English bridle:
- Cheek pieces
- Crown piece
There are a variety of bridle options depending on the type of riding you do; dressage bridles and double bridles have different components, for example.
Every bridle has a bit or a hackamore. A bit is a metal rod that is placed in the horse’s mouth. Alternatively, a hackamore goes over the horse’s nose.
The reins are attached to the bit or hackamore and are what you use for steering. If you’re a new rider, you won’t know what to look for straight away – but once you’ve been in the saddle for a while and get to know your horse, you will notice which bridle and bit work best.
Stirrup leathers and irons
A stirrup iron is the metal ring hanging from the saddle in which you place your boot. Stirrup leathers are the straps that connect the irons to the saddle tree (base of the saddle).
Stirrup irons are there to give riders a flat base for support when mounting and riding.
Saddles are one of the biggest investments you’ll make in terms of riding gear. They’re specifically designed to fit the horse and the rider comfortably. That means properly measuring the saddle is essential if you want the right fit.
The saddle pad goes under the saddle to provide a thin layer of cushioning that prevents the saddle from rubbing the horse. This can be quite uncomfortable for your animal if you don’t have the correct measurements.
Additionally, you need a girth, which secures the saddle to the horse with a band that goes around the horse’s belly.
You can choose between an English saddle and a Western saddle, depending on your riding style. It’s always best to purchase a saddle in person, so you can try it on your horse and ride with it.
Saddles are a personal thing for riders, and it’s not something to take lightly. The saddle needs to fit your horse properly to avoid behavioural issues. Plus, with a hefty price tag, you want to ensure you’re purchasing the right equipment.
There is no way around it. Every saddle needs a saddle pad to make sure your horse is comfortable and that the saddle isn’t chafing.
Saddle pads come in various sizes and styles. Depending on your riding style, pick a saddle pad that works with you, not against you.
Like the saddle, there are English and Western saddle pads, so be sure to get the correct one for your saddle type.
Do horses need blankets? It’s one of the top questions from horse riders. The truth is it depends on where you live, the clip of your horse, and where your horse spends most of its time.
You might want to check out the different horse clips to decide which might be best for your horse. This plays an important part in determining whether to blanket your horse – it’s safe to say if you live in a cold area, blanketing is a must.
The same goes for taking your horse out of the stable throughout the day. If it’s cold and your horse is simply relaxing, then a blanket is a good idea. Can you imagine how loud the chattering would be from a horse’s mouth? Be safe and blanket your horse in the winter.
Top Tip: See when and how to rug your horse.
You’ll need some grooming tools to keep your riding companion looking and feeling fantastic. After all, they don’t get their shiny coats from nothing.
Grooming a horse can be very therapeutic; it provides some quiet and gentle bonding time to get to know your horse better. Plus, you can also keep an eye on how your horse is doing overall while grooming.
There are a variety of combs and brushes for various areas of your horse. These are not only great for keeping the coat and mane shiny but are also good for removing any debris and dirt that might be making your horse uncomfortable.
If you’re unsure of the brushes to buy or where to start looking for grooming supplies, we recommend buying a grooming kit. Most have all the essentials you’ll need to get your steed looking smart.
First aid kit
A horse first aid kit is absolutely essential for all riders. If something happens to your horse when you’re not within walking distance of the medicine cabinet, you could find yourself in trouble.
Calling the vet is first on the list, but if you can stabilise an injury to prevent anything worse, that’s first prize. So, riding with a first aid kit is a must.
You can build your own or buy a pre-made kit; anything is better than not having the first aid basics while out on a ride.
Your kit should have these basics:
- A syringe
- Cotton wool
- Antiseptic spray
Those pesky flies can be a serious downer when you’re in the saddle. Alas, it’s an unfortunate part of horse riding. Apart from being irritating, flies can cause harm to horses, as many of them carry diseases.
There is no way to stop flies from getting on your horse, but you can reduce them by making the environment “unattractive” to the annoying insects.
That’s where the fly spray comes in. Spray it around your horse and the flies will stop landing on your companion’s silky coat.
How much does horse riding equipment cost?
It depends on what you need, but expect to pay £200 – £2,000 for your horse riding equipment. Remember: nothing lasts forever, so you will need to replace horse tack as they get older.
How do I know what horse equipment is right for my horse?
You will only truly know what works for your horse when you’ve ridden with the equipment and get a feel for it. Each horse and rider is different, but once you’ve found the right equipment, be ready for the ride of a lifetime.
Why is horse tack so important?
Horse tack refers to the equipment and accessories needed to ride your horse safely. The main purpose is safety and comfort – for you and your trusty steed.