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”.

Essential Equipment

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.

Tacking Up

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.

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  • Published:
  • Updated: 12/31/2020: 2:52:22 PM ET
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