What’s Tack?

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Tack refers to horse riding or driving equipment, including saddles, bridles, and other equestrian gear. Saddles and bridles are customized to the horse and discipline, and materials vary based on intended use. Care and maintenance of tack is important for riders.

The term tack is used to refer to any equipment worn by a horse that is used for riding or driving. It is usually made and supplied by a saddlery, a company that specializes in making equestrian equipment and commonly carries supplies for riders and horses. Numerous things can be considered tacks, including saddles, bridles, and all parts thereof, along with breastplates, martingales, halters, riding harnesses, and other equestrian equipment. Learning to pick and take care of the tack is an important part of learning to ride.

The two main pieces of tack are a saddle and a bridle. While non-equestrians think of these items as relatively generic, saddles and bridles are actually customized to the horse and application. In addition to the primary division between English and Western equipment, saddles can be found intended for use on the track, in the show ring, in endurance racing, for jumping and in numerous other equestrian disciplines. Since many disciplines have very specific equipment requirements, many riders have different saddles to use during training and performances. Also, the saddle must be suitable for the horse, as larger horses require larger saddles and girths, while small horses need smaller ones. The bridles are also customized to the discipline in which the horse is trained and include interchangeable bits and reins.

Numerous pieces of nails are designed to be attached to the saddle, including girths used to hold the saddle, stirrups for the riders feet, a breastplate to keep the saddle from slipping, and a martingale to keep the horse from rearing its head. This is made in a variety of materials and finishes to coordinate with saddles of all styles. Some spots are even designed specifically for riding, which requires a special harness that fits the horse and the vehicle it’s attached to.

Leather and nylon are the two primary materials used to make tack, depending on the intended purpose. For formal disciplines such as dressage, leather is the preferred material in the show ring, while endurance riders tend to use lightweight nylon saddles, as they are easier on the horse over a long haul. The leather tack needs to be regularly soaped and buffed to stay supple and attractive, while the nylon versions require less routine care.

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