Having the right accessories is a major part of success for horseback riders. Unless a person is going to participate in horse shows, there is no need to purchase more than the essentials for riding comfortably and safely. These essentials include the following:
- Riding helmet
- Riding boots, hiking boots, or sturdy shoes with heels to prevent feet from sliding forward in the stirrups
- Protective vest that is padded well at the shoulders
- Riding gloves
- A bridle and bit appropriate to the horse
- Reins appropriate to horse and rider
- Saddle appropriate to horse and rider
- Saddle pad appropriate to the rider’s saddle with adjustable gullet that fits the horse’s back
There is also specific equipment that the rider needs in order to be comfortable and safe. This equipment is for riding in English or in Western style. Some Western-style riders who often wear cowboy boots may also prefer to wear hiking-style boots with good heels that have laces, as these boots can be used for two activities. Hiking boots are easy to get on and off, and they are sturdy and comfortable and will not slip forward in the stirrups.
With regard to the horse, various bits offer different levels of control of the animal, and a tie down prevents it from rearing up. If the horse is young or has not been misused, the softest bits will work as its mouth will be tender. Also, a noseband adds some pressure to the horse’s head when the rider draws the reins back with a young and/or spirited horse who is not as calm as an older, seasoned horse. This pressure controls the horse, preventing it from flinging its head back or rearing up. Tiedowns (these can be in sturdy nylon) also prevent head flinging that can injure the rider who may be leaning forward. Curb chains that connect to the bridle under the horse’s chin help with stopping a horse, as do nosebands that apply pressure when the rider pulls in the reins. The important consideration is for owners to use tack that is only as controlling as it needs to be and not unnecessarily restrictive so that the horse’s spirit is not endangered.