When it comes to purchasing a horse for the first time, the array of saddles and bridles available can be daunting. It’s important to do your research.
So you’ve bought a pony. Hopefully before doing so, consideration has gone into the ongoing costs and one off purchases that will be required of the horse owner. Once the horse is purchased, it is too late to consider such expenses and whether they can be afforded!
Getting the Right Saddle
The discipline that the horse or pony is going to be used for may dictate the type of saddle to be purchased. Often with first horses, the owner is fairly new to riding and consequently may want an all purpose saddle so that they can adequately try out flat work, dressage, games and jumping.
When looking in the local tack shop, first time buyers may get caught up in package deals that include a mounted saddle (saddle with girth, stirrups and stirrup leathers) and a bridle for a cheap price. This can be particularly handy for the first time horse owner. It should be noted however that it is worth investing a little more on getting the saddle fitted to your horse.
Any gear used on a horse that doesn’t fit can result in potential pain to the horse or discomfort to the rider. Gear should stop being used if it:
Causes areas of hair on the horse to turn white – this is a pressure point
Encourages a poor riding position – this should not be confused with someone who hasn’t yet learnt how to carry themselves correctly on the horse
Is causing the horse to be lame
The best option when it comes to purchasing a saddle for one’s horse if unsure of what to get, is to make use of informed staff at a tack store. If they offer a saddle fitting service, all the better! Be sure to let them know what kind of riding is intended for the horse as well as an idea of its size.
Choosing a Bridle
One of the most commonly used bits on the horse is the eggbutt snaffle, whilst tom thumb bits are often used on pony mounts. Both are fairly soft on the horse’s mouth, with the tom thumb having cheek pieces to avoid the bit being pulled through the mouth of the horse when one is asking it to turn left or right. This can be particularly helpful with stubborn ponies and young riders that are still learning about steering.
Bridles are available in pony, cob and full size so when shopping around, try to make sure the right size is purchased, along with a simple bit. As a general rule, the thinner the bit, the more severe it is. Again, if unsure, it is worth asking an informed horse person.
Some horses that are for sale are advertised with their own tack. Even if this is the case, it is worth making sure that this gear fits the horse correctly. If a saddle and bridle doesn’t come with the horse, some time to research best prices, as well as the best fit, will help to ensure riding is a pleasure for both the horse and rider.