When speaking about saddles, bridles and other equipment used on a horse or pony, we are genuinely referring to tack. Below we cover the different types of tack available for your horse or pony, as well as providing images for your reference.
There are different types of saddles available for English riding, these are Dressage, Jumping and Generic. You will also see 'special' saddles for some types of events, but these are dependent upon the event in question.
A saddle is needed to give you a secure seat on a horse or ponies back. The saddle needs to be secure and comfortable for both horse and rider, so you need to make sure you get a qualified saddle fitter to check that the saddle you intend to buy is safe to use.
Saddles are made of a rigid frame which is referred to as the 'tree'. You can however buy 'treeless' saddles, but these often cost more and you can't use them at shows. All saddles have a canvas seat which stems the entire length of the tree, which is then covered by a padded seat.
Saddles come in different sizes and widths in order to fit different horses and ponies. You can also get adjustable saddles which will enable you to customize the saddle to correctly fit your horse.
The girth attatches to one side of the saddles girth straps. It then goes under the horse or ponies belly and buckles up to the girth straps on the other side. Girths have two buckles at either end and these are usually made of stainless steel. The girths themselves can come in a variety of styles, such as webbing, padded and leather as well as a variety of styles such as dressage and stud girths. They are available in different sizes for different sized horses and ponies
- Click here to see a photo of a standard leather girth.
Bridles come in various types, usually dependent upon the bit you wish to use. The most common Bridle is the snaffle, which is used with a jointed snaffle bit and a single set of reins. They are traditionally made of leather and are available in three different sizes, pony, cob and full, although you can get them in extra full for certain breeds such as shires.
You can also get a bridle which uses both a snaffle bit, a curb bit and two pairs of reins. They are usually only used on well-schooled horses and by experienced riders. If you wanted the horse to raise its head, then you would use more control on the reins attached to the snaffle bit. If you wanted the horse to lower its head, then you would use the reins attached to the curb bit.
Stirrups come in many different shapes and sizes, and are attached to saddles using adjustable stirrup leathers. Although not critical for riding, stirrups help riders keep their stabilty when riding, especially on horses with bumpier gaites. It is important to remember to wear the correct footwear when using stirrups. If you were to fall, your foot could get stuck in the stirrup iron which would lead to you being dragged by the horse.
The most common stirrup iron is known as the English stirrup, which consists of a basic tread and two branches which run up to the eye. The main styles seen today are the Fillis stirrups which consist of a thicker tread and a more rectangular eye, and the Prussian stirrups which are lighter and more arch shaped.
You can also get stirrups known as Safety stirrups. These can consist of having a bent arch on one side of the stirrup, which enables the toes to swivel round and fall out the stirrup, or alternatively, an elastic strap attached by leather at one end which will snap under force.