How to Choose Stirrup Irons and Stirrup Leathers: Your English horse tack and your Western horse tack include Stirrup Irons and Stirrup Leathers which are determined by the equestrian riding sport your ride.
English Horse Tack:
Stirrup Irons; offer standard stirrup irons or “Safety” stirrup irons. With the novice or beginner rider, the “safety” stirrup irons should always be the first choice. The Safety Stirrup Iron is designed to release the riders foot in the event of a fall from the horse. Is also important to have the correct size/width of stirrup iron; if the stirrup iron is too small, the rider’s foot may not properly release during a fall.
Stirrup Leathers; can be made of leather or synthetic material, chrome or stainless steel buckles. When choosing Stirrup Leathers, it is of personal choice; Stirrup Leathers made of leather will stretch and need to be cleaned and oiled to maintain the reliability of the stirrup leathers. The “Synthetic” stirrup leather is easy to care for and will not stretch
Western Horse Tack:
One of the most stressed parts of your western saddles is the stirrup leather – The Stirrup Leathers can easily be replaced by a leather-smith.
Western Stirrups come in many different styles and are determined by personal choice and the riding sport and types of western saddles – Bell Bottom Stirrups, Roper Stirrups, Contest Stirrups, Over-sized Stirrups, Wooden and Stirrups with Safety Cage.
It’s always advisable to wear your riding helmet; there are many to choose from, the Troxel Helmets are very popular with both English and Western riders.
What’s the Difference between an English and Dressage Saddles?
English horse tack consists of Bridles and Reins with crystal browbands often seen on the Dressage Bridle, Saddle Pad, riding bit – more common a jointed Snaffle Bit and English saddle.
Your choice of a saddle will be decided upon if you’re riding English or Dressage. The English saddle can be used for Jumping, Trail Riding and Dressage depending on the saddle flap design. The Dressage Saddles are specifically designed with a deeper seat; which encourages the rider to sit into the seat without gripping, longer flaps and a balanced tree.
The saddle pads are designed to fit the shape of the saddle flap; longer flaps if riding Dressage and offer more custom design options of color and saddle pads with trim or piping.
The Collegiate Saddle; often ridden and sponsored by many of the top level competition riders offer quality English saddles and Dressage saddles.
Depending on your riding discipline there are many options to choose from for all your English Riding Tack.
Tips on How to Fit Your Pony Saddle
When shopping for your pony saddle, it’s important to that you find a good fit for your pony friend while at the same time meeting your riding needs. It can be challenging finding a good fitting saddle for your pony because they often have low withers and wide backs. It doesn’t matter if you are shopping Western Saddles or English Saddle for your pony, the need for a properly fitting saddle is the same.
Here’s a checklist on How to Fit Your Pony Saddle:
- Make sure your pony is standing on a flat surface and standing square. Brush the back of your pony to make sure there is no dust or dirt, and the hair is lying flat.
- Place the saddle on your pony without a saddle pad. The saddle should be placed with the saddle flaps just behind the shoulders.
When looking through the pommel from behind you should be able to see the light with 3 to 4 fingers between the pony’s withers and the pommel.
- The saddle flaps should lay flat just behind the ponies shoulders
- When looking at the seat area of the saddle, it should look level. If the pommel is too high, the rider will not be able to sit in the center of the saddle and this would also indicate that the saddle tree is too narrow.
- If the saddle is too wide the pommel will be pressing on the withers and cause pressure and discomfort for the pony when ridden. The rider will also be out of balance as the saddle will be pitching the rider forward.
- When you think you have the perfect saddle, take it for a test ride. It’s best to use a thin white saddle pad instead of a thick saddle pad. Ride the pony until it sweats as you need to see the sweat marks under the saddle to help determine if the saddle is a good fit. If there are places where there is more sweat and dry areas, then the saddle has uneven pressure points and is not a good fit. If the sweat area is even and the hair is lying flat, you have found the perfect saddle for your pony!
Traditionally Classic or Bling for the Show Ring?
There’s much to choose from in the English Horse Tack for the equestrians who prefer the Traditionally Classical or Spectacular Bling show ring look:
You can take a simple Bridle and change out the Browband to add some “bling” or a more “personalized” browband. Crystal Browbands are very popular and can range from simple to dynamite dazzling designs! A fancy leather braided browband can add a classic look for that finishing touch.
There’s no limit on the selection of saddle pads! You can choose a solid saddle pad with fancy trim or choose a saddle pad that sports your barn or team colors. Choose a saddle pad that shows off the color of your horse. I have a black horse, so I chose a Royal Blue saddle pad with silver trim and a crystal browband of blue Safire gems, we made quite a show ring statement.
Also, consider your snaffle bit, stirrup irons and silver engraved spurs to add to your show ring “bling” or “traditional” look.
Horse leg wraps can be a finishing touch to coordinate with the saddle pad and crystal brownand.
Having fun in the show ring can be Traditionally Classic or Spectacular “Bling”!
Tips on Cleaning the Silver on Your Circle S Western Saddles & Headstalls
Circle S Saddles and Western Horse Tack features silver plate conchos on headstalls, breast collars, and western saddles. Silver plating tarnishes with age and depending on the conditions in which it is used. With cleaning and maintenance, Circle S conchos & silver trim will remain as bright and shiny as when they were first purchased.
Cleaning Your Western Horse Tack
- Clean your saddle and silver concho’s/trim of dust and mud with a soft cloth and water.
- Make a thick paste of “baking soda” and water.
- Carefully apply the paste to the concho’s/trim with a soft cloth.
- Gently rub the concho’s/trim in a circular motion while removing the tarnish.
- Carefully wipe clean with a damp cloth – be sure to remove all the baking soda off.
- Apply “Silver Polish” with a soft rag and allow to dry completely.
- Gently rub the silver trim in a circular motion to remove any tarnish.
- You are now ready to saddle up with your wool saddle pad and show off your Western horse tack.
Understanding and Choosing a Bit:
- Snaffle Bits are the most common, used for various equestrian activities; Trail Riding, English Riding, Dressage and Western Riding. There are different types of snaffle bits: straight bar, single jointed and double jointed.
- Straight bar bit will work on the lips, the bars of the mouth and the tongue.
- Single jointed bit works on the bars of the mouth and the lips. It has a ‘nutcracker’ action which squeezes the tongue as the reins are applied.
- Double jointed bits also work on the bars of the mouth and the lips without the squeeze.
- Choose your bit wisely and know that the “bit” is only as harsh as the rider’s hands. You may also be interested in the “Bitless Bridle”……check it out!
Martingale Horse Tack for Training or Control?
All too often, we see the Martingale used as a controlling measure with high headed, somewhat out of control horses. The Martingale Horse Tack should be used in “preventing” the horse from throwing its head and possibly hitting the rider in the face.
As a trainer, I often see the martingale adjusted too short to keep the horse’s head set low. It would better to teach your horse how to ride over its back and through to the snaffle bit with the end result being a horse in self-carriage with a round frame and not needing a martingale.
Often I will ride a young horse that’s inexperienced on the trails with Standing Martingale in the event the horse spooks and throws its head up.
There are two types of Martingales in our English Horse Tack; a Standing Martingale which attaches to the caveson nose band and the Running Martingale Horse Tack in which the reins run through the martingale rings, both attach to the girth when riding in an English saddle.
When training I do not prefer the Running Martingale as it also pulls down on the snaffle bit and can cause pain in the horse mouth when the horse throws its head up and the rider pulls on the reins.
The end result of why we use our Martingale Horse Tack should be for the safety of the rider, using the martingale for a short period of time until we properly train our horse to ride in balance with a soft back and self-carried frame.
My favorite Blue River Western Saddle
I have ridden in several Blue River Saddles and I have to say that one of my favorite saddles is one of the ranch saddles – Blue River Hard Wade Seat Western Saddle. It’s not only comfortable with the deep seat, but the zig-zag tooling on the skirt, fenders and seat also give a sharp, distinctive look. I also like the natural rawhide trim on the horn, gullet, and cantle.
All western horse tack takes time to break in, but with the premium leather and detailed craftsmanship of this Blue River Saddle, it felt like one of my “old favorite” western saddles in just a few months of riding. I don’t know…..maybe ranch saddles “break in” quicker?
I prefer to use a 100% wool saddle blanket or saddle pad, I feel that it keeps my horses back warm which helps prevent sore or stiffness in my horses back, but also breathes so as not to over-heat under the saddle.
My second choice saddle would be the Blue River Pleasure Saddle – It’s not a ranch saddle, but it has a microsuede seat which is so comfortable!
Agility – Dog and Horse Activities Shared Connection
Most of us are familiar with Dog Agility. If your dog isn’t competing in Dog Agility, it certainly is fun to watch! In the Dog Agility completion, the handler maneuvers the dog off leash through obstacles that the dog must complete in a timed event. The dog that completes the Agility Course with the least amount of errors with the fastest time – wins!
Six of the most popular obstacles are:
- Tire Jump
- The Pole Jump
- The Weave Poles
- The Tunnel
- The Chute
- The Table/Pause Box
Did you know that there is a Horse Agility? It is fast becoming the new equestrian event! As in the dog agility, the Equine Agility requires the use of pedestals, bridges, balls, weave poles, tarps, labyrinth, gates and more that the imagination can come up with.
Most horse owners know that horses become bored and that’s when destructive behavior takes over; from stall chewing, weaving, kicking, misbehaving under saddle, etc. The Horse Agility is an awesome way to have fun with your horse while training your horse and improving communication skills.
It’s important to prevent injury to your horse when training agility; be sure to put horse leg wraps on when starting to train your horse on new equipment. You can ride in English horse tack or Western horse tack, and it’s also advisable for you to wear a horse riding safety vest. If you don’t own a helmet, you can purchase certified horse riding helmets at your local tack store, or you can order online.
So what a cool fun way to combine our love of dogs with our love of horses!