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Extra Equipment

The bridle and saddle are the means by which we stay on the horse and control where it goes. In some cases, however, extra equipment may be needed.


For example, some horses have a shape that makes it difficult for them to wear a saddle without it slipping backward; in cases like this, a breastplate or breast girth may be necessary. A breastplate is a fixed loop that passes around the horse’s neck, and is anchored to both the saddle by a strap on each side and to the girth by a strap between the legs. When the horse is resting, the breastplate should allow four fingers between it and the horse’s shoulder; check that none of the straps is twisted. A breast girth is a strap that is fixed to the girth on both sides, passing around the breast. A strap over the neck stops it from slipping down around the legs. A breast girth should lie almost parallel to the ground and, like the breastplate, should allow four fingers to fit between it and the horse when at rest.


There are also horses that throw their heads around; for these horses, a martingale is used to restrict unnecessary head movements. Be careful not to use extra items of tack unless you have checked that they are necessary. A breastplate is not intended for use as a substitute for a properly fitting saddle, and you should not use a martingale to mask a painful mouth, which can be the cause of the horse resenting of the bit.




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