New to riding? I bet you are so excited to get riding. BUT, before riding a horse, there are a few crucial first steps that you should know. When I talk about learning how to ride, it does not always mean the actual riding. There are a few important things that should be learned before actually riding a horse. In this blog post, I’ll share some horse tacking tips with you so that you can make your first few experiences spending time with a horse memorable and enjoyable.
These are all pieces of advice that I wish I’d had before I started, that I’ve gained over 20 years of experience.
If you have any other questions for me after reading this list of horse tacking instructions, let me know in the comments below!
Also don’t forget to get my 100% FREE Beginner Rider’s EBook! You’ll learn how to keep a consistent pace (whether you’re riding a fast or slow horse), how to make smoothen transitions, how to finally get the flexion and bend you want, The Emergency Brake as well as bonus chapters on making cantering and jumping so much easier!
Decide your riding style first
There are many different styles of riding but most common are English horseback riding and Western horseback riding. Before going out for your first horse ride, you should know the difference between them.
I won’t go into detail here, but if you’re interested, definitely check out this post and this post to learn about the difference between Western and English riding. Both styles use different types of riding equipment (tack).
The level of communication between a horse rider and the horse is also different in both riding styles. Another major difference between English riding and Western riding is the position of the rider. This position is different because of the difference in tack and equipment. The size of English horse riding tack is usually smaller than Western riding tack. The weight of English horse riding tack is correspondingly lower.
Important Horse Tacking Tips: Make friends with your horse
Before you get started, I want to tell you something super important. It will make the work of tacking all the more significant to you.
This is it: part of the tacking process is becoming friends with your horse. And that’s one of the reasons why tacking is so important – getting your horse used to your presence and touch will help them trust you on the ride. Plus, who doesn’t want to be friends with their horse?
First of all, try to understand your horse. Learn his instincts. If this is your first time communicating with a horse, try to be friends with him. Horses are sometimes flighty, and can be scared of people. You should try to make your horse understand that you are not something dangerous. Bonding is very important to build a relationship of trust.
If a horse is aggressive then, first of all, you should try to make him trust you. You can do this by extending your arm towards the horse so that he can smell it. Now pat him gently. This will help to create a bond between both of you.
If your friendship still hasn’t quite blossomed, try my three fun horse riding exercises that help bonding.
Learn how to lead, tie and groom
To bond with your horse, you should learn how to lead, tie and groom your horse. These skills with help you stay safe while you can enjoy your horse ride.
Leading is what it sounds like – you use a rope to lead your horse, and walk them around. Leading is important to build a relationship of trust and friendship between you and your horse.
Tying is important for the safety of your horse. Once you’ve led your horse to his stall, or wherever you’re going to be doing your tacking, you need to tie them up. Try to keep the horse’s needs in mind – are they comfortable?
Once your horse is tied, you’ll do some grooming. Grooming is important so that your horse can stay clean, but also demonstrates your affection for them. I always talk to my horse while I’m grooming. I recommend trying it, even if you feel a bit weird at first!
Now it’s time to saddle and bridle up your horse
Now that you know the importance of tying, grooming and leading your horse, the next thing that you should do is to saddle up your horse. There are many different types of saddles available in the market but the most common ones are English and Western saddles.
Western saddles are bigger and heavier than English saddles. To saddle up your horse, the first step is to clean your horse. Now, put a saddle pad on your horse. If you don’t have a saddle pad, you can also put a small blanket on your horse.
Putting a saddle pad before putting a saddle on your horse is important because it will reduce the friction that will be caused by riding. This will keep your horse nice and comfortable. Another benefit of putting on a saddle pad is that it absorbs perspiration and provides support to the back of your horse.
After putting on a saddle pad, the next step is to put the saddle on. Try to do it in a gentle way. Avoid throwing saddle roughly on your horseback because it could spook him.
The next step is to check your saddle and the saddle pad for wrinkles. Both should lie smoothly on your horse’s back and there should be no wrinkles between a saddle and the saddle pad. If there are wrinkles, the horse, as well as the rider, might feel uncomfortable.
Now fasten the girth and you are done!
To bridle up your horse, the first step is to tie a horse for safety reasons. This is to make sure that the horse does not misbehave. Insert the bit gently in the mouth of the horse. Pull the crown of bridle towards his head and tie the buckles of your horse bridle.
You’re done – it’s time to ride!
After having done all of this, you should be able to lead your horse where you want, mount and get riding. I hope my horse tacking tips have taught you a little more about how to get to that point, and do it well.