Day 7 activities for slt champ camp

Whether you ride English or Western, there are two essential pieces of tack: a bridle and a saddle. While there are obviously differences between the two styles, and there are different types within the disciplines, the basic parts remain the same.

All About Tack


A bridle allows the rider to control the horse's head, speed, and direction. Your horse's bridle is one of the most important parts of communication with your horse when riding. There are many different bridles and bits, and each are designed with a different purpose. Today we will review the different pieces of a bridle.

  • Bit: part that goes into the horse's mouth, usually made of metal, that allows the rider to steer and stop the horse

  • Browband: strap that rests below the horse's ears, across the forehead, and prevents the bridle from sliding behind the poll onto the neck

  • Cheekpiece: strap that connects the bit to the headstall (Western) or crownpiece (English)

  • Reins: straps that connect to the bit, that the rider holds to control the horse

  • Throatlatch: strap that runs behind the horse's jowls and prevents the bridle from slipping off over the horse's head

English bridles also have additional parts:

  • Crownpiece: top part of the bridle that runs behind the horse's ears

  • Noseband: strap that goes around the horse's nose and can also be used to attach equipment such as martingales


A saddle allows the rider to comfortably sit on a horse's back. It also distributes the weight of a rider, making it more comfortable for the horse. This comfort, plus the enhanced position it provides, enables the rider to precisely deliver cues to the horse, making a smooth ride possible. There are a few common parts of a saddle, but this is one piece of tack where there are significant differences between English and Western riding. Both English and Western saddles vary in design based on the discipline.

  • Cantle: back edge of the saddle seat

  • Gullet: channel between the panels that clears the horse's spine

  • Jockey: flap of leather attached to the seat that covers the stirrup bar (English) or rigging (Western)

  • Seat: where the rider sits, between the pommel and the cantle

  • Stirrup: metal frame that the rider's foot sits in


  • Billets: located under the flap, where the girth attaches

  • Flap: part where the rider's leg lies, it covers the billets

  • Girth: strap that holds the saddle on the horse

  • Knee Roll: located on the flap, cushioned areas under the rider's knee that help keep the leg in place

  • Panels: part that touches the horse and provides cushioning to the back

  • Pommel: front of the saddle over the withers

  • Stirrup Bar: piece of metal attached to the tree that holds the stirrup leather on

  • Stirrup Leather: strap that holds the stirrup on to the stirrup bar

  • Twist: narrowest part of the saddle, between the pommel and seat


  • Fender: leather that connects the stirrup to the saddle

  • Horn: on the top of the pommel, provides extra support for the rider and can hold lassos and other equipment

  • Pommel: also known as the swell, the part where the bards of the tree come together

  • Rigging: comprised of the cinch, dee rings, billets, and cinch straps, all of which secure the saddle to the horse

  • Skirt: leather that goes around the saddle base and allows the saddle to sit on the horse's back

There are other pieces of tack that horses wear, such as halters and saddle pads. Halters are a piece of headgear that is used to lead and tie up a horse while it is being handled. Saddle pads are used underneath all styles of saddles. They add cushion between the back and the saddle, providing a layer of comfort and support. Some styles can even improve a saddle's fit. Tacking up is the term used to dress your horse. Because English and Western riders use different horse tack, the process of tacking up varies.

English Tack

Watch a video about English tack from Equestrian Neightion:

Watch a video about tacking up English from Claire Eventing:

Western Tack

Watch a video about western saddles from Julie Goodnight:

Watch a video about tacking up western from Sunset Trails Stables:

All About Tack Crossword

Can you put your tack knowledge to the test and complete the crossword activity for today?



Learn more about bridles from Encyclopedia Britannica: Learn Now

Find out more about saddle care from Farnam: Learn Now

Learn more about the different types of saddles from Horse Journals: Learn Now

Check out the historic McClellan saddle from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History: Learn Now

Learn more about the history of the oft-forgotten side saddle from The Side Saddle Association: Learn Now

Spend some time curled up with a great horse book! Check out our reading list ideas here

Have you visited our Kids Corner? Check out additional fun activities here

  • Published:
  • Updated: 7/21/2020: 10:53:23 AM ET
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