Chloe on ensuring your tack helps your horse look and perform at its best
If you are looking to get out and about this season, then don’t allow your tack let you down! Chloe Bernard, Commercial Director of retailer Shadow Horse gives her top tips and advice to ensure your horse looks and performs to his best, whatever your discipline.
When it comes to choosing your tack, the two most important factors to consider is that it fits your horse comfortably and that it is in good condition. It should go without saying, but if your horse is uncomfortable, his mind will be elsewhere and if your tack is neglected, it can easily become a safety issue, so make sure you care for your tack by cleaning and conditioning the leather and checking for wear and tear.
Having a bridle that looks gorgeous is great, but having a bridle that fits your horse is essential!
Lots of customers choose from our Silver Crown bridle collection because their horses are not a standard fit or because they are looking for a bridle which focuses seriously on distributing pressure across key pressure points such as the nose and poll. Silver Crown bridles can be created from our ‘pick and mix’ buying structure so that you can build a bridle that suits your needs and fits your horse comfortably and correctly.
When fitting a new bridle to your horse make sure that the browband isn’t too tight and doesn’t pinch his ears and allows him to move his ears about with discomfort. The throat lash is there to stop the bridle coming over your horse’s head in the event of the rider falling off over the horse’s head, but take care not to fit it too tight. You should be able to get four fingers between the throat lash and your horse’s cheek. Make sure that you don’t over tighten the noseband as well.
Choosing the right bit is key for both horse and rider and a bit that is perfect in one rider’s hands, may not be right for a less experienced rider, so seek advice from a bitting expert should you be looking to change from a basic snaffle and be realistic about your riding ability too.
When it comes to fitting a bit it is quite an art, with different bits requiring different fits, for example a jointed snaffle should sit so it just wrinkles the corner of the mouth, whilst a straight bar is fitted slightly lower. Depending on your discipline and your horse’s way of going, there are plenty of nosebands to choose from including flash, drop, grakle and mexican to name just a few! Each one requires careful fitting, for example the drop noseband needs to be fitted so that it does the job intended (Help prevent the horse opening it’s mouth wide enough to evade the bit) but you have to be careful that it doesn’t interfere with the horse’s breathing.
Your saddle is probably (after the initial purchase of your horse) the second most expensive item you will buy, so make sure you chose wisely. Ensure that the saddle you chose is the correct size for you and your horse and also for anyone else that is riding your horse regularly. You need to have regular saddle checks and also keep an eye on fit. We sell a fantastic range of saddlecloths from clever slim line pads which wick away sweat through to sheepskin pads with removable shims to allow you to ‘bridge’ the gap whilst waiting for your saddler to reflock your saddle or for those animals, which seasonally drop off muscle.
Keep an eye on your stirrup leathers for wear and tear and also be aware they can stretch more on one side, so swap them over regularly to ensure even stretch. You should also check the tread on your stirrups to check that it still has some grip, especially during these wet and muddy months!
Make sure that your girth is also comfortable for the horse and ensure you keep it clean, so that it doesn’t cause skin irritation around this sensitive area. Leather girths should be cleaned with saddle soap and leather conditioner, whilst fabric girths should be washed in a non-biological powder.
If your horse requires leg protection, choose a style that suits your discipline. There is a vast range available from brushing boots through to specialist boots for dressage, eventing and show jumping available. We sell Majyk Equipe Boots, which have memory foam linings and are anatomically designed to help protect and perform under pressure.
Finally, don’t forget to clean and check your tack daily and take action to repair or replace to ensure you can enjoy the competition season to the full!
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