Horse Tack Terminology That Is Helpful to Know...
Updated: Aug 22
If you are gearing up for your first horseback ride, congratulations! While we make our rides completely beginner-friendly, learning about horse tack is an interesting way to get more involved in your ride—and understand the talk around the barn! Let us jump right in.
What Is Horse Tack?
Horse tack is the terminology used to refer to any equipment used in riding, handling and caring for horses. This encompasses more well-known objects such as the saddle and reins, but also refers to less-obvious items such as bridles and wraps—which we will get into in the next section.
Different Types of Horse Tack and Their Functions
Bridle and Bit. The bridle refers to the leather headgear that a horse wears when you are riding it, which includes the bit that is connected to the reins. The bit refers specifically to the metal piece that goes into the horse’s mouth. Bits are designed to sit in the gummy ridge behind a horse’s teeth, which is how they feel the rider’s communication via the reins.
Halter and Lead Rope. A halter looks like a bridle, but it is generally made of a nylon material and does not have a bit on it. Instead, it simply loops behind the horse’s ears and across their nose and is attached to a lead rope under their chin. Horses are trained from a young age on how to take direction in a halter from a handler on the ground, so the lead rope is how you can maneuver them even without a bit or reins when you are walking.
Reins. Reins, generally leather but sometimes rubber, are the straps that connect the horse to the rider via the bit. The reins clip in on either side of the bit and run back to the saddle, so the rider can steer and maneuver the horse. With reins, a light touch is always best—the bit is constantly contacting the nerves in a horse’s mouth, so gentle direction will generally get your point across.
Saddle and Stirrups. The saddle is what rests on the horse’s back for the rider to sit in, and the stirrups are where riders will put their feet. Horses are trained to respond to pressure on their sides from riders squeezing their legs to move forward—a gentle nudge (not a kick) is generally all it takes to urge your horse from a stop to a walk.