The equipment you use when riding a
horse is called tack. Tacking up a horse for English riding involves placing a
saddle, saddle pad, stirrups, bridle and possibly a martingale on the horse.
Secure the Horse
The first step is to secure the horse with cross ties or tie them to a hitching
post. This helps ensure that the horse stays in place and you remain safe while
tacking up the horse. For safety, use quick release snaps or slip knots when
tying the horse so you can quickly free them if they should get caught in the
Groom the Horse
Before you tack up your horse, you should always brush him or her. If you put a
saddle on over a dirty horse, the dirt can rub underneath the saddle and cause
saddle sores. You should also clean the horse’s hooves with a hoof pick and
check to make sure none of the horse’s shoes are loose. You should also check
the horse over for any signs of swelling or injury.
Place the saddle pad up on the horse’s neck and gently slide it back into
place. Slide the stirrups up on the straps so they don’t hit the horse’s side
when you equip the saddle. Next, place the saddle gently on top of the saddle
pad. Buckle the girth on the right side of the horse. Then move to the left side
of the horse and reach underneath the horse and pull the girth toward you.
Slowly pull the girth tight and buckle it. Then slide the stirrups down on the
straps. Wait a few seconds and check the girth again to see if it needs to be
tightened again. If you are using a martingale, buckle that on now.
Putting on the Bridle
Untie the horse from the cross ties or hitching post. Put the reins from the
bridle over the horse’s neck. This allows you to better control the horse if
you need be. Place your fingers on either side of the bit and push the bit into
the horse’s mouth. Then slowly slide the headpiece up and over the horse’s ears,
and loosely buckle the throatlatch.
Walk your horse a few steps. Double check that your bridle is on correctly and
that the reins are not crossed. Check the girth of the saddle, tightening it if
necessary. Put the reins in your left hand and mount up your horse.
If you have any questions or are not sure how to tack up the horse, ask an
experienced rider for advice. A local instructor or trainer will also be happy
to offer assistance.