Chloe on choosing the right tack for the job

Chloe on choosing the right tack for the job

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THE RIGHT TACK FOR THE JOB!

 

Do you dabble in dressage, jump for joy or get clever cross-country?

Chloe Bernard, Commercial Director of retailer Shadow Horse talks us through choosing the right tack for the job!

 

When it comes to choosing your tack, the two most important factors to consider is that it fits your horse comfortably and that it is in good condition. It should go without saying, but if your horse is uncomfortable, his mind will be elsewhere and if your tack is neglected, it can easily become a safety issue, so make sure you care for your tack by cleaning and conditioning the leather and checking for wear and tear.

Firstly, your saddle is probably (after the initial purchase of your horse) the second most expensive item you will buy, so make sure you chose wisely. Ensure that the saddle you chose is the correct size for you and your horse and also for anyone else that is riding your horse regularly. You need to have regular saddle checks and also keep an eye on fit. We sell a fantastic range of saddlecloths from clever slim line pads which wick away sweat through to sheepskin pads with removable shims to allow you to ‘bridge’ the gap whilst waiting for your saddler to re-flock your saddle or for those animals, which seasonally drop off muscle. Keep an eye on your stirrup leathers for wear and tear and also be aware they can stretch more on one side, so swap them over regularly to ensure even stretch.

You should also check the tread on your stirrups to check that it still has some grip, especially during these wet and muddy months! Make sure that your girth is also comfortable for the horse and ensure you keep it clean, so that it doesn’t cause skin irritation around this sensitive area. Leather girths should be cleaned with saddle soap and leather conditioner, whilst fabric girths should be washed in a non-biological powder.

If your horse requires leg protection, choose a style that suits your discipline. There is a vast range available from brushing boots through to specialist boots for dressage, eventing and show jumping available. We sell Majyk Equipe Boots, which have memory foam linings and are anatomically designed to help protect and perform under pressure.

 

DRESSAGE DIVAS

Dressage should be about harmony and cadence, so it’s imperative that your tack fits correctly and that your horse is happy in his way of going in order to achieve this criteria. You choice of bridle and bit should of course be dictated to by the rule book (Depending on Riding Club or British Dressage) but more importantly your horse’s level of training. As you reach the higher levels, don’t be tempted to ride in a double bridle if your horse goes well in a snaffle. You won’t get marked down by the judge for using a snaffle and if your horse is happier in a basic bit, then stick with this! In dressage martingales are not permitted, however recent British Dressage rule changes mean that you can now ride in a neck strap at all levels and ride with a breastplate. We have lots of customers choose from our Silver Crown bridle collection because their horses are not a standard fit or because they are looking for a bridle which focuses seriously on distributing pressure across key pressure points such as the nose and poll. Silver Crown bridles can be created from our ‘pick and mix’ buying structure so that you can build a bridle that suits your needs and fits your horse comfortably and correctly. The trend towards using sheepskin saddlecloths underneath your dressage saddle continues to be popular and we offer a fantastic collection, however it is important to tell your saddler you are considering riding in one, to ensure they fit the saddle accordingly to allow additional room.

 

JUMPING INTO THE LIMELIGHT

With the emphasis on control and clear communication during a round, the variation of bits and bridles out there is mind boggling, but again check that whatever you plan to ride in is permitted and works for your horse. All the top show jumpers will tell you that schooling on the flat is a key part of their training, however there are some horses, no matter how well schooled they are, require a strong reminder when it comes to speed control! The Grakle noseband is a popular choice for many show jumpers as it applies pressure around the face and muzzle to help control strong horses in fast work.

Fitting a Grackle noseband correctly is key; as you need to ensure that it is fitted clear of the horse’s nostrils. Many riders choose to ride in standing or running martingales again for control, however these need to be fitted correctly, so as to avoid interfering with the horse’s head carriage too much or even pulling the saddle forward and out of balance. Standing martingales are acceptable if the horse has a normal jumping style but a running martingale has more fluidity in its design to allow for a horse which throws it’s head up into the riders face, yet allows the horse to naturally put his head down and forward over the jump.

 

THE MAIN EVENT

Having covered dressage and show jumping, taking a look at cross-country, there are lots of gadgets out there, but once again, make sure whatever you choose is discipline legal and that you have ridden in it at home to ensure that your horse goes well in it and is happy in your choice. Many riders opt for stronger bits or tack that helps give better control during this challenging phase of eventing, however its imperative that you fit it correctly. For example, the drop noseband needs to be fitted so that it does the job intended (Help prevent the horse opening it’s mouth wide enough to evade the bit) but you have to be careful that it doesn’t interfere with the horse’s breathing. Your choice of bit is also important and fitting a bit it is quite an art, with different bits requiring different fits. For example a jointed snaffle should sit so it just wrinkles the corner of the mouth, whilst a straight bar is fitted slightly lower.

If your horse requires leg protection, choose a style that suits your discipline. There is a vast range available from brushing boots through to specialist boots for dressage, eventing and show jumping available. We sell Majyk Equipe Boots, which have memory foam linings and are anatomically designed to help protect and perform under pressure.

 

Finally, don’t forget to clean and check your tack daily and take action to repair or replace to ensure you can enjoy the competition season to the full!

 

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