What horse tack do I need as a beginner?

So you’ve picked up your first horse now you’re wondering what horse tack you need in order to hop on and go for a glorious ride on the sunset? Well… there’s a little more to it than that. First, you need the right gear.

As a horse owner, you will need halters and lead ropes for leading your horse around. Saddles, bridles, a girth, and proper footwear for riding. You will also need a wide variety of tools to care for your horse’s hoofs, hair, and comfort.

A lot of this depends on what kind of riding you’re going to be doing there’s trail riding, show riding, trick riding, and I’m sure many others that are not listed here. In this post, I’m going to try to cover at least some of the basics but I believe you shouldn’t need no matter what type of ride you’re going to go on.

Head Gear

Halter And Lead Rope: One of the first things you will need is a halter and lead rope. These will be used for performing groundwork, getting your horse in and out of trailers, and tons of other types of training.

If you’re going to lunge your horse then you will want a lunge rope and a long whip as well. Lunging your horse is when you force it to run in a big circle either to work off energy or for training footings.

Additionally, if you are going to be traveling a lot with your horse it’s probably worth the investment to get a trailer tie.

Bridle: A bridle is a bit different from a halter in that part of the bridal, known as the bit, goes into the horse’s mouth. There are many different bits on the market and that could be its own topic altogether but essentially what a bit does is put pressure in the horse’s mouth forcing them to turn their head in the direction that you want them to turn.

These are essential to riding and controlling your horse. Some experienced riders, with well-trained horses, can ride using only their halter.

Reins: Along with a bridle you are going to need some reins. Everyone prefers their own reins but basically they come in two styles either split or closed. Split reins are typically longer, and are split so that they are physically two separate pieces. Closed reins are one single piece that personally, I find way easier to handle while riding.


I don’t actually know if mid-gear is the correct word I’m going to go with it because it sounds awesome.

Now that you’ve done some groundwork and caught your horse it’s time to start thinking about what you will need in order to park your butt up there. There are many riders that choose to not use any mid-gear riding bareback with only use a bridle, halter, or in some highly skilled cases nothing but the mane!

I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this you’re probably not at that level so you’re going to need a saddle, saddle pad, and a girth. These items will look slightly different depending on if you consider yourself a western rider or English rider.

Saddle: Saddles come in various sizes and are used to help hold the rider on the horse and provide some level of comfort. The saddle also holds the stirrups which are used to help keep balance while riding, as well as an aid for mounting and dismounting the horse. The saddle also provides a great place to affix a saddlebag if you are going on a trail ride.

Saddles are sized not only for the horse but also for the rider. Learning how to properly determine the size of the saddle you need is a bit too far for this article. However, feel free to check out our other article describing the specifics. (Don’t worry it will open in a new tab)

Saddle Pad: Alongside a saddle, you will need a saddle pad. This pad provides some cushion between the inorganic, non-moving saddle, and your horse. Without it, your horse will likely develop saddle sores. Saddle sores are basically rug burns on your horse’s back. This discomfort will also cause your horse to misbehave.

Girth: A girth is used to secure your saddle to the horse. Without it, your saddle would fall right off as soon as you put any weight on either stirrup. Much like the saddle, a girth is going to be sized differently depending on what horse you have. This chart from colonial saddlery will be a good place to start.

Everything else

There are tons of different accessories you can buy to “pimp your horse.” However, at this point, you should have just about everything you need to hop on and go for a basic ride around the pasture.

 Depending on where you live and the train you’re going to be riding on you may want to consider having a farrier shoe your horse. What this does is provide a bit of protection for the horse’s hoof as well as some traction in slippery situations. 

If you plan on going on a long trail ride you might consider some saddlebags to carry your beverages, snacks, and I would highly recommend packing an extra lead if you plan on going on a long trail ride. I’ve learned from experience that a broken lead in the middle of nowhere it’s quite the hassle.

 So where do I get all of these things?


Hey! My name is Jeremy. So far I haven't convinced the wife to hop on and write anything so I'm pretty much the only face you'll see. I've been a horse owner now for about 10 years, I bought my first horse while in college for a measly hundred bucks to impress this crazy horse lady that I wanted to date. Turns out we got married, adopted some kids, and kept on with our horse lifestyle.

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