Horse Tack: Geared Up for a Ride
Most basic riding lessons include a how-to on tacking up the horse. Get a head start with Groupon's overview of horse tack.
Tack refers to everything a horse wears for a ride, from saddles to bridles to reins. Just as people dress differently for different jobs, horses wear different tack depending on whether they're employed riding on trails, working on a cattle ranch, strutting down a runway, or competing inside a show ring.
One of the most important pieces of tack is the saddle, buckled onto a band around the horse's middle called a girth. Western saddles, designed for long days of riding, distribute the rider?s weight evenly and comfortably across the horse?s back. At the front is a horn around which cowboys can wrap rope used to lead cattle. English saddles, on the other hand, are hornless, and are light to give horses more freedom to run and jump.
Then there are the parts of the tack designed to help the rider communicate with the horse. The bridle?leather headgear that slips around the horse?s ears and nose?is attached to a bit and reins. The bit is a metal or synthetic bar attached to the bridle and resting in the back of the horse?s mouth on its gums. The reins connect to the bit, letting the rider tug gently to indicate the need to slow down or make a turn. Although the reins used in English and Western riding may be the same, they're used differently. English riders hold on with both hands, whereas Western riders hold both in just one hand, leaving the other free to high-five passing sheriffs.