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 Dressage Tack 
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Post Dressage Tack
Dressage Tack
by: Sonia Dixon

Your Horse's Comfort and Yours Is Paramount

Everyone should start with the basic tack and clothes, making sure that they fit comfortably. Obviously a horse that is going to be ridden needs a bridle, with a suitable bit and saddle. They must be well made, fit correctly, and in very good repair. An indication of this is that they are made of good quality leather, carefully maintained by cleaning with saddle soap. Do not be tempted to use an item of tack just because other people are using it; you should only use what your horse really needs.

There are many different kinds of saddles, but for comfort, fitting and lasting capabilities, choose the highest quality workmanship and materials. The Western saddle is sturdy and down-to-earth solid, with stronger and thicker leather than its English counterpart. Like the saddle, the bridle should be made from strong, flexible leather with rigid stitching that is even and firm, with quality stainless steel buckles rather than plated metal. The bridle and bit will allow you to control your horse's head. It should be properly adjusted, so that the horse is not uncomfortable. Your horse should have his own saddle and bridle, adjusted to fit, and kept in good condition.

It is surprising how little the basics have changed over the centuries. Bits have become less harsh, and saddles are now made with sprung trees and softer padding. However, the tack used in this century is based on a simple, effective and centuries-old design that works as well now as ever before.

Protecting Your Horse

There are special items of tack that can help protect the horse from discomfort and injury. Saddle pad, boots, and bandages all have their specific uses, but do not use them to compensate for poorly fitted tack or careless riding. Items that have a purpose for comfort and safety are important. Fashion accessories are secondary. Each has a purpose but both can cause or mask damage if used incorrectly, so please do not use them just because other people do. It is right to put protective boots on the horse for show jumping and cross-country, where he is likely to knock his legs, and the boots give protection against blows. Under the saddle most riders use cotton or wool saddlecloths to keep sweat and dirt off the saddle. Saddle pads at the back give extra shock absorption under the whole saddle, while wither pads are used at the front only. Also useful if the horse's weight fluctuates and affects the fit of the saddle. Placing the saddle cloth slightly too far forward, over thewithers, smoothes the horse's hair when you slide the saddle back.

Dealing With Tack Trouble

No-one likes to think about the problems that could occur while out riding. A stirrup leather could break but you should not worry; you may be able to ride home gently and quietly without it. However, if there are breakages in any other areas of the tack, this is more of a problem. For example, a broken girth strap would mean you would have to lead the horse home, holding the saddle on the horse's back. You should in this instance, run up the stirrups and secure the firth, in order that it does not flap.

You can deal with broken reins by knotting it if the break is near the buckle; this gives you the opportunity of holding both reins. However, if the break falls in any other place, you will have to dismount your horse and then lead him. A more serious break in any part of the bridle, other than the noseband breaks, you will then lose control of your horse. If you have in your possession a piece of baler twine, that would be handy to provide a superficial mend to get you home with the horse. Warning - do not under any circumstances try to ride if your bridle is broken. Do try and ask for help by 'phone if you are too far away or near a busy road that you have to negotiate.

After your horse ride or leading your horse home do not remove your horse's saddle immediately when he is sweaty; you want to avoid your horse getting sores on his back. Your horse's back circulation is important - it may have slowed down after riding him. A few minutes is all your horse should need to come back to normal.

About The Author
Sonia is a book reviewer, coach and author. Equestrian dressage is just about techniques, competing, tests, tack, horse riding, caring for your horse and more.

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Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:15 am
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