English tack is the equipment used
in English riding disciplines like dressage, hunting, jumping, polo and the
English version of trail riding, known as “hacking”.
Halter, Lead Rope and Cross-ties
The halter is the head gear in which a lead rope is attached to lead or to tie
a horse. Cross-ties are also useful in tying a horse during grooming or
saddling and are attached to the D-rings at each side of the halter. Halters
and leads may be made of nylon, cotton or leather.
Bridle, Bit and Reins
The bridle is the leather head gear used in riding and consists of a headstall,
a metal bit that is placed in the horse’s mouth and reins. There are many types
of bits and each is used to accomplish a different purpose. Different English bits
include the snaffle (including the full-cheek, loose ring and eggbutt), Pelham,
Kimberwicke and gag. The snaffle is one of the more popular bits for beginning
riders. English reins are a solid length of leather, usually laced and attach
to each side of the bit to control the horse.
Saddle, Stirrup Leathers, Irons, Girth
and Saddle Pad
The three main types of English saddles are - dressage, close contact and all purpose.
Dressage saddles have a straight flap and allow the rider’s leg position to be
lengthened. Close contact saddles have a more curved flap and allow for the
bent knee position required for jumping fences. All purpose saddles have a flap
with a medium curve, allowing them to be used in nearly any discipline. The
stirrup leathers are looped through the irons and attached under the waist of
the seat. The girth holds the saddle in place and may be made from leather,
neoprene or cotton webbing. Saddle pads are used under the saddle to absorb
shock and provide the saddle with a customizable fit.
The process of equipping a horse for riding is called tacking up. The process
begins with the horse in a halter and tied with a lead rope or cross ties to
ensure that it stays still. The saddle and pad are placed over the horse’s back
at the highest point of the withers and then slid back into the correct
position. The girth is then buckled, but will likely need to be tightened after
mounting and warming up.