Equestrian Tack Specializing in products and information relating to equestrian tack.


Equestrian Tack: Secretariat – ESPN’s top 100 Greatest Athletes

Ok, so you love horses, you loving riding horses.  You visit equestrian shops online.  You love watching horses shows and various equestrian events but horse racing is not a passion.   Still, you appreciate a remarkable horse when you see one, then  this exhibit is a MUST see.  


The Derby Museum in Louisville, Kentucky at Churchill Downs has an incredible exhibit that runs until March. It is the Secretariat exhibit.   The exhibit focuses on the horses inspiring racing career.  It features valuable artifacts from private collections.  Also on loan from Disney, props from the movie Secretariat, as well as interview footage from Penny Tweedy Chenery, his owner.  The equestrian shops at the Derby Museum also have incidentals from the movie as well as the exhibit.


Why is this exhibit special?  Why do we care?  Secretariat was an exceptional horse, an exceptional athlete. Not only did this horse win the triple crown, he set new race records in two of the three triple crown events.   These records still stand today.  Secretariat also set new track records and world records at other meets and Stakes races.   ESPN listed Secretariat as one of the 100 greatest athletes of the 20th century.  He is the Michael Jordan of horse racing.   

Don't wait until it is gone, this is a one of a kind exhibit to honor a one of a kind horse, Secretariat.  Also, stop by the equestrian shops at the Derby Museum for your Secretariat gear.


Equestrian Tack: May the Best Horse NOT Win

In an athletic competition is it the competitor with the most athleticism who wins?  Nope   In equestrian sports is it the horse with best athletic ability, breeding and temperament who wins?  Not particularly.  Is it the rider with the most experience, the best equestrian tack and the best horse riding helmet  who wins?  Nope.  

The winner is,  what  was formally  believed to be an intangibles of the rider, his or her mood.  More specifically, the  rider’s mood state or emotional composure prior to the competition.  An article in the Journal of Applied Sports Psychology found that the most critical factor in equestrian sports competitions is the rider’s emotional composure or mood.    The study took 13 advanced and 13 novice riders and measured their various moods prior to competition using a POMS questionnaire, Profile of Mood States Questionnaire.  Analysis called multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was then performed.  The results were that the levels of confusion between the novice and advanced riders were significant.  The advanced riders also had better processing efficacy and task-specific concentration as compared to the novices. 

 So you in your shiny new horse riding helmet, perfect horse, your full seat breeches , you look good, your horse looks good, you are going to win….only if you are in the mood.


Equestrian Tack: Show Jumping – Horses With Hops

Love horses and love to watch jumping but don’t know a lot about the competition aspect?  Show jumping, also known as stadium jumping is an event that is part of the English riding equestrian events.   English saddles are the equestrian tack used. Riders must wear a horse riding helmewith harness while they ride.  They also wear full seat breeches that are tan, white or beige in color.  Riders usually wear a dark-colored coat however lighter colors are allowed in the summer with a light-colored (usually white) ratcatcher-style shirt and either a choker or stock tie. However, especially in the summer, many riders wear a simple short-sleeved "polo" style shirt with a horse riding helmet, boots and full seat breeches.  In sanctioned events, even if coats are required, the judges may waive that rule in excessively hot conditions.  

All jumper classes are subject to the same scoring system. It is an objective system based on whether the horse undertakes

the obstacle, makes it, and finishes the ride in the allotted period.   Horse and rider must take the course in a designate sequence. All obstacles are numbered. Each rider’s goal is to cover the course with no faults within the allotted time period. Style is not considered and doesn’t affect the scoring in jumper competition. The first time a refusal occurs, the penalty is three faults; six faults are given for the second, and the third constitutes elimination. A penalty of four faults is incurred each time a fence is knocked down and the penalty for the horse touching the water at a water jump is also four faults. Penalties can also be incurred for exceeding the time allowed to complete the course ,and if  the horse stumbles while maneuvering a barrier or jump.. The winner is the horse and rider combination with the fewest jumping and time penalties. Frequently, several horses complete the course without penalty and advance to a jump-off over a shortened course. In the jump-off, the same scoring rules apply, except that in the case of equal faults, the horse with the fastest time will be declared the winner.

Show jumping involves the rider and horse negotiating a course that consists of roughly 15 obstructions.  The obstacles can be up to five feet high and six feet wide.  The point of the competition is for the rider and horse to manipulate the course without faults and within a certain time period.  The goal being to ride the course with no faults or within the time period.

Course Analysis
Before the competition begins, riders can walk the course on foot to analyze it.  They take note of the overall course and how they can ride the course as compact as possible in order to save the most time especially if racing against the clock.  It is important that the team of horse and rider address the course at the right speed, height and angle to clear the obstacles without getting faults.  While doing so they keep in mind the horse's stride length while stepping off the space between obstacles.  This will help the rider adapt the horses stride to the obstacles on the course.  The rider studies the types of fences, the distances between them, the footing and possible trouble areas. 

Whose on First
The order of competitors is determined by a draw that occurs before the competition begins.  The riders going near the end of the lineup have the most fortunate positions as they can study the other competitors and how they ride the course.  

What's The Score
The obstacles on the course are numbered so the team of horse and rider need to take the course in a specified succession.  

Jump Refusal
First time - 3 faults
Second time - 6 faults
Third time - elimination

Fence Knockdown
First time - four faults

Water Touch
Four faults

Time Limit Exceeded

Jump Off
In the event of a tie, there is a jump off that consists of the riders doing a shortened course and in the event of no mistakes, the rider with the fastest time wins.

So enjoy the competition, and remember when you get on your horse,  always wear an approved ASTM/SEI horse riding helmet.




Equestrian Tack: Fit Happens

Editors Note: Equestrian Tack highly recommends that you get your horse fitted with a saddle by a professional saddle fitter.  This article  serves to educate you with SOME of the fine points of saddle fitting but does not and should not replace a professional saddle fitter ...enjoy! 

I've always loved equestrian tack.  The bridles  The smell of  leather in equestrian shops.  The  attractive horse riding apparel. Putting on those brand new  full seat breeches and horse riding helmet ,  not only looks good, but helps keep you safe.  Besides shoes, what keeps the horses safe?  The answer to that is a proper fitting saddle.  

Let's say you are shopping for used western saddles or ranch saddles.  Do you know that you can't buy  the first saddle that tickles your fancy and slap  it on your valuable horses back?   Not if you are concerned about the welfare, comfort  and performance of your horse.   Not if you don't mind your vet bill rising.  

To insure a good fit, make sure horse is on a flat surface.

Gullet/Channel Width
It is important that the saddle NOT sit on the horse’s spine.  There should be obvious spinal clearance when looking through the saddle from front to back or vice versa.  The horses spine must align with the middle of the saddle .    As a rule of thumb, you should be able to see all the way though to the back thereby having  obvious spinal clearance. Sometimes the saddle might lean from one side to the other. 

Note that sizes are not  standard.  One saddle fitter’s medium might not be another’s  mid size.  One of the reason’s for this is because a saddle “tree”, the instrument used to measure a horse for a saddle, comes in different widths.  Also, various saddle makers measure sizing space in different ways.  

Typically, there are three saddle sizes -

  • Narrow saddle - fist width between the panels
  • Medium saddle  - fist width plus 2 cm extra
  • Wide saddle - fist width plus 3 cm extra

Note that some saddles have channels which are wide in the front and narrow in the back.  Make sure to get a saddle that is as wide in the back as is in the front.  This will help when the horse turns.  

First, mark the back edge of the shoulder blade in order to place the front of the saddle.  Second, go to the last rib and follow the line up to the spine, to mark.  Finally, the saddle needs to sit between those two lines.   Put the saddle on the shoulder blade and slide back so that it is directly behind the shoulder blade between the lines.    If the back of the saddle goes behind the back line,  it will sit on the lumbar area.  This puts pressure on the lower back which can cause spinal damage.   If the saddle is too far forward, the saddle will restrict the horses range of motion thereby restricting his movement.  This will not only shorten the horses stride but it will affect the bio-mechanics of the front leg, causing lameness.

Most horses are “left handed”.  To determine this look at the fall of the mane,  If it falls from the left side to the right side, then the horse is a left shouldered horse.  You can check this by standing in the back of the horse and look down the midline of the horse.  Look over the top line to see which shoulder is bigger. 

Shim the saddle with a non-compressionable shim.  The idea is that the rider needs to be on the center of the horses back.

Once the saddle is on, view from front  and back.  The arch at the front  (the pummel area) should be high enough to place 3-4 fingers.  The seat should be horizontal to the ground. 

Note that it is important to check the saddle for fit on a regular basis.   A horse changes its shape throughout  its lifetime.  It will require a new saddle to accommodate the new shape.  It is also important to note that the flocking in saddles can wear and become lumpy, creating pressure points on the horse's back.  


EquestrianTack: How to Buy A Horse – With No Regrets

So you have an equestrian tack trunk, but you have no horse. Whether it is your first horse or tenth, buying a horse can be a very rewarding experience.   Especially if you follow a process and have a plan. Without doing either, your experience can leave more to be desired. Here's some tips to make buying a horse a fun,  exciting and memorable experience. 


Before buying your first horse, create a checklist of what you want in a horse. Below are examples to note for your list:

  • Breed of horse
  • Sex
  • Size
  • Height and weight
  • Age
  • Training experience
  • Price
  • Disciplines

The list will save you from "impulse" buying meaning ie. falling in love with the first horse you go to see regardless of issues it may have or compliance with your checklist.  Also, it is important that you not go over your designated price you can pay.   Exceeding your budget could mean you have to cut corners elsewhere. 

Where to Buy

The objective here is to find a good horse, one that is a "known" product.   Therefore, get the word out that you  are looking for a horse.  Talk to veterinarians, friends, horse breeders, trainers, boarding stables, farriers and anyone familiar with the local horse populations.   Check the riding clubs, equestrian tack shops, rescue groups, classifieds, horse magazines and online.   There is no one good place to buy a horse. But there is one place you need to stay away from, that is a livestock auction. At a livestock auction, you never know what you are going to get as in a sick and unmanageable steed. Note that a livestock auction is different from a dispersal auction. A dispersal auction is one in which owners consign horses and other animals to be sold. Note, it is always wise to bring a knowledgeable person with you wherever you look at horses.

Questions to Ask Owner

When you talk to the owner ask him/her the following questions:

  • Age of the horse
  •  How and where the horse has been ridden, saddle, trails, ring
  •  How often he is ridden?
  •  Who rides? Adults, children, both
  •  Disposition
  •  Age of riders?
  •  Breed?
  •  Horse’s Health History
  •  Why selling?

Getting a new horse is one of the most exciting experiences a person or family can have.  Note: your due diligence can make the experience a great one as you can now put your equestrian tack trunk to work!

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