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Horse tack

Tack is the collective term for the various accessories worn by horses in the course of their use as domesticated animals.

Saddles

Saddles are seats for the rider, fastened to the horse's back by means of a wide strap (a girth or cinch) that goes around the horse at a point about four inches behind the forlegs. Some saddles will also have a second strap (flank cinch) that fastens at the rear of the saddle and goes around the widest part of the horse's belly.

It is important that the saddle is comfortable for both the rider and the horse - an improperly fitting saddle may rub and cause the horse pain and eventually injury. Usually a saddle will be inspected annually and the stuffing modified to correct the fit.

There are many types of saddles, each specially designed for its given task.

Stirrups

Stirrups are supports for the rider's feet that hang down on either side of the saddle. The invention of stirrups was of great significance in mounted combat, giving the rider a secure footing while on horseback. At the same time, the stirrups are problematic, due to the tendency for feet to get stuck in them in dire moments, causing the rider to be dragged. Because of this fact, there have been designed new, breakaway stirrups.

Bridles and halters

Bridles and halters are an arrangement of straps around the horse's head used for communicating with the animal. Bridles are used for riding horses (and contain a bit), halters are more general-purpose (no bit). A hackamore is a type of bitless bridle.

Bits

A bit is a piece of (usually) metal that is placed in the horses mouth. Despite popular opinion, the bit does not rest on the teeth of the horse, it rests on the bars. The bit hangs in a space behind the front (cutting) teeth and in front of the back (grinding) teeth. When a horse is said to "grab the bit in it's teeth" they actually mean that the horse hardens it's lips and mouth against the bit to ignore the riders commands. Bits offer varying degrees of control and communication between rider and horse, depending upon their design

The types of bits are too numerous to list, but here are some examples:

  • Curb bit
  • Snaffle bit
  • Gag bit
  • Pelham bit

Harness A harness is a complicated set of straps that attaches a horse to a cart. There are as many kinds of harnesses as there are carts to attach to a horse.



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