Getting Tack to Fit Your Horse Properly

Getting Tack to Fit Your Horse Properly

From bit to shoes and halter to saddle, it is critical that your horse’s tack fits properly. But why is a proper fit so important, and how can you be sure all your horse’s gear is the correct size, proportions, and style for each animal’s individual needs?

Why Fit Matters

We all have that one pair of shoes that causes blisters, the shirt with a too-tight collar, or the slacks just a bit too long. These clothes, even if they are well-designed and beautifully made, are uncomfortable and can even cause pain, make us trip, or lead to other mishaps. Poorly fit horse tack can cause similar problems for your mount, including chafing, bruises, blisters, a bad gait, lameness, or overall discomfort. When your horse doesn’t feel comfortable in its tack, the animal’s performance and productivity will suffer, and behavioral problems could develop. Over time, poorly fitting gear can even cause long term injuries. Fortunately, it is easy enough to get a proper fit for all your horse’s tack.

Gear That Must Fit Well

All types of gear your horse will wear and use should be properly sized for the correct, comfortable fit. This includes…

  • Saddle – The size and set of the saddle should be suitable for your horse’s back and girth, and all straps should be the proper length for safe use and adjustments as needed.
  • Halter – The size and material of the halter must be comfortable for your horse, and the fit suitable around the head and muzzle without bothering the ears or eyes.
  • Lead Rope – Your horse’s lead should be the suitable length for each task, whether leading the animal or connecting pack horses, and it should be durable enough for years of use.
  • Bridle – The size and style of the bridle should fit your horse well, with buckles and connectors in the proper places for both comfort and functionality.
  • Bit – Regardless of the type of bit you or your horse prefers, it should be the correct size for the animal’s mouth and sit properly without disrupting the teeth or chafing the gums.
  • Harness – Whatever type of harness you use to attach to a cart, wagon, sleigh, or other equipment, it should have the proper weight load distribution to keep your horse comfortable.
  • Breastplate – The breastplate needs to be the right size for your animal to distribute weight properly, and should have the correct strap length to connect to other tack.
  • Shoes – The shoe material must be right for your horse’s needs and activities, and the shoe curvature must match each foot for the proper load or any corrective needs.

Even simple gear, such as nose bags, saddle blankets, wraps, and hoof boots should also be the correct size so it is comfortable for the horse and will function properly. While animals of similar sizes and proportions could exchange gear occasionally, it is best to have individual tack for each horse to guarantee the best fit.

Ensuring the Proper Fit

The best way to get your horse fit properly for different types of gear is to take accurate measurements of your animal and recheck those measurements often as your horse’s size and proportions may change throughout its life, depending on its growth, overall development, physical conditioning, and weight. Work with a professional farrier, saddler, and other tack dealers and designers to properly size gear, and be sure they are aware of any special needs your horse may have, such as uneven proportions, gait irregularities, or quirks about headgear. Each time you tack up your horse or remove the gear after a workout, training session, competition, or day’s work, examine each piece carefully for any signs of stress, weakness, stretching, or deformities that could indicate a poor fit. Similarly, examine your horse for hot spots, blisters, scrapes, bare patches, or other irregularities or injuries that might be tack-related. Do not continue using any gear known to fit poorly, and instead replace the tack right away for equipment that will fit your horse properly.

Getting a horse fit properly does not have to be difficult, but it is essential for your animal’s comfort, performance, and good overall health. By using gear of the right size, you can be sure to work well with your horse and enjoy many hours of riding, training, and working together comfortably and safely.