Finding the right horse for you can be a long, time-consuming process, sometimes taking months or even years depending on your needs. Now that you’ve found your perfect horse, you’ll need to gear up for horse ownership. There are a number of new things that your horse and you will need.
The Trip Home
One of your first purchases should be a halter and lead rope. A well-fitting halter and a lead rope are necessary for the everyday handling of your horse, so you’ll want something that is durable and comfortable for you and your horse. For everyday use a breakaway halter is a great option; these are generally made of nylon and have a leather tab or crown that can break under pressure if your horse becomes caught on something. Another option is a leather halter, these the traditional halter of choice, but can be more expensive, depending on the quality of the leather. For lead ropes, there are also a number of different options for materials and styles. In most cases, for everyday use you’ll want a lead rope with a snap end.The most popular materials for daily use are cotton and nylon; cotton leads are more comfortable in the hand, while nylon tends to be more durable.
For the trip home you’ll also want to look at protective items for your horse. Shipping boots or shipping wraps are used to help keep the horse from accidentally stepping on themselves if they shift in the trailer. If you are using a commercial transporter to bring your horse home, you’ll want to check with them as many have restrictions on what your horse can wear in the trailer. Depending on the weather, you’ll also want to consider whether your horse should be shipped in a blanket or not.
Caring for Your Horse at Home
Once your horse is at home, you’ll need to purchase a few more items for his daily care and well-being.A fully-stocked grooming kit is essential in taking care of your horse as daily grooming not only makes your horse look and feel good, but also helps to prevent injury. While you can purchase a complete grooming kit of matched brushes and totes, you can also purchase the brushes and grooming tools separately.
Depending on the weather when you purchase your horse, seasonal accessories may be a necessary purchase. If it is during the summer, you may want to consider fly protection for your horse, such as fly spray and a fly mask. If the weather is cold you may want to consider a turnout blanket. If the weather is cold and you’re not sure if your new horse needs a blanket or not, ask the current owner, they’ll be able to tell you their blanketing routine.
Ready for Riding
Now that your horse is at his new home and settled, you’ll want to get in the saddle. You’ll need to purchase a set of tack that fits your new horse and you. What saddlery you need will depend on what style you ride and below you’ll see the basics for an English and Western rider.
If you ride English, you’ll need to invest in a bridle and bit, saddle, girth and a saddle pad. The standard English bridle is a snaffle bridle with a standard French caveson; these are typically sized by pony, cob (small horse), horse and oversize (large horse). For a bit you’ll likely want to stick with the bit that your horse is familiar with, so take note of his current equipment. For an English saddle you’ll want one that works for your discipline, if you’re just starting out or ride in multiple disciplines, you may want to consider an all-purpose saddle. Finding a saddle that fits you and your horse can be tricky, for a first saddle you may want to consider a saddle that has an interchangeable gullet, that can be adjusted to fit your horse.Alternatively, you can have a saddle fitter come out and see your horse and fit a saddle to your horse exactly.
For a saddle pad, so long as you have one that fits your saddle you can have a bit of fun with the style and colors; many use a square pad for schooling and daily rides that can be easily washed. There are also many different types of girths available, most are leather or a synthetic material, many offer elastic on one or both ends for added comfort for your horse and ease when girthing. You can estimate the proper girth your horse will need by placing the saddle and pad on the horse and then taking a cloth tape measure and going from the middle hole of the saddle billets on the off side to the corresponding hole on the near side. This measurement in inches will be your horse’s girth size.
The basic tack that a Western rider needs are very similar to that of an English rider. At the most basic you’ll want a headstall and bit, a saddle and pad and a cinch. There are two main styles of Western headstalls, the browband headstall and the one ear headstall. The choice between the two styles is largely personal preference. Generally reins are not included with a Western bridle, so you’ll also want to choose a set of reins. Split reins are two separate pieces of long leather strands, while contest or roper reins are much shorter and consist of only one strand of leather.
Fitting a Western saddle is generally easier due to their design. These are offered in two main tree widths, semi-quarter horse bars for the narrower horse and full quarter horse bars for a stock horse build. A trail or pleasure saddle is a good all purpose choice for the beginning Western rider. There are many different types of Western saddle pads, with the most popular options having a wool blend top over a felt or fleece bottom. Available in a vast array of different colors and patterns, these are a great way to show off your fun side. Cinches come in two basic styles, a straight cinch, or a roper cinch, which is wider in the center. Western cinches are available in a variety of materials from natural cotton to synthetic nylon and fleece. When sizing a cinch you’ll want to measure your horse with the saddle and pad on and then take a cloth tape measure from the off side rigging to the near side rigging on the saddle and then subtract 16″ to accommodate for the length of the latigo on both sides.