If you’re even thinking about buying a horse or taking up horse riding then you’ll need to consider the big question of what essential equestrian equipment you’ll need. From horseboxes and saddles to hoof picks and bridles, the vast array of equine essentials can be daunting to the uninitiated. But if you read our ultimate guide to equestrian equipment you won’t forget a thing.

While you’re making such a substantial investment in time and money, make sure you’ve got the right cover for you, your horse, and your tack and equipment. Our specialist horsebox insurance can take care of your transport, too.

Horse tack

Contents

Chapter 1: Choosing the right tack

Chapter 2: Making your horse extra comfy whatever the season

Chapter 3: Grooming kit to leave your horse standing out from the crowd

Chapter 4: Keeping the yard looking its best

Chapter 5: Getting your horse from A to B in style and safety

Chapter 6: Essential horse riding clothing for you

Chapter 7: Super stores for all your equestrian shopping needs

Chapter 1: Choosing the right tack

Right, let’s start off with something you really must get right before getting on a horse. The tack! A very short word that covers a vast range of items needed for you to be able to ride a horse safely and effectively. The exact tack you’ll need will depend a lot on what equine disciplines you hope to enjoy. However, the basic list will remain the same no matter how you choose to ride.

  • Headcollar and lead rope
    How else are you going to lead your new horse?
  • Bridle and reins
    The primary and most basic way in which a rider communicates with their horse is through the bridle and reins. By manipulating this bit of kit, the rider is applying pressure and contact through the bit to the horse’s mouth.
  • Bit
    With a truly bewildering array of bits and mouthpieces on the market it’s really difficult to know where to begin. While there are various types and shapes of bits, they’re essentially a piece of metal that sits comfortably in your horse’s mouth in the space between the incisors and premolars. Some horse owners disagree with their use and favour a hackamore, or so-called ‘bitless’ bridle. As you can see, while arranging horsebox insurance might be a straightforward process, the same can’t be said for choosing the right horse bit! To help you out, read this guide on how to choose the right bit for your horse. It should tell you all you need to know to get started.
  • Saddle
    Likely to be one of your most expensive pieces of kit. A new leather saddle is a joy to behold. But if you want to keep costs down then a good synthetic or a second-hand saddle are perfectly adequate. Just make sure you measure your horse correctly. Or better still, get the saddle fitted by an expert. Bear in mind that if you’ll mostly be doing flatwork or hacking then you might want a slightly different type than if you’re concentrating on jumping.
  • Girth
    A girth is designed to keep the saddle on the horse, keeping it secure and preventing it from slipping from side to side. They come in a range of materials and designs. While you’re having the saddle fitted, it’s a good idea to ask for advice on which one will suit your horse and saddle type the most.
  • Saddle pad
    Sometimes called a numnah, these prevent the saddle from rubbing or slipping against the horse’s back and sides, making for a much more relaxing ride.
  • Stirrup irons
    Attached to the saddle by stirrup leathers, stirrups hold the foot of the rider. They greatly increase the rider's ability to stay in the saddle and control the horse. Make sure the leathers are the right length for you and the stirrups themselves are the right size for your feet.
  • Neck strap
    Not every horse and not every rider will need one of these. But they can be extremely useful for rider confidence and safety. This interesting article from Your Horse magazine lists eight reasons why you might want to invest in one.
  • Martingale
    Riders in a wide variety of equestrian disciplines might use a martingale with their horse. It’s designed to control the way the horse carries its head and to stop it throwing its head too high.

Remember to tailor your equipment to the type of riding you’re doing. Do you fancy dressage, hacking, show-jumping, horse boarding, or riding just for leisure? For example, blinkers (or blinds) commonly used on racehorses and driving horses are used to minimise a horse’s vision to make them focus on what’s in front of them.

While all this tack can add up to a hefty bill, at least it will all be well protected with most specialist horse insurance. Unfortunately, thieves are also a danger in the equine world and will often cause damage when trying to steal such items. If you’re both travelling away from home, be sure to have horsebox insurance just in case of a break-in.

And if you’ve bought good quality equipment, you’ll not only be worried about thieves. You’ll also want to make sure it lasts. Tack, particularly when it’s made out of leather, will need to be cleaned and polished regularly.

This isn’t just to make it look good. If you don’t perform the correct maintenance then it will become brittle and crack. Potentially endangering the safety of both you and your horse. Ask at your local equine store and they should be able to recommend soaps, oils and conditioners perfect for leather or synthetic materials.

Chapter 2: Making your horse extra comfy whatever the season

But that’s not the end of it. What else might your horse need in their equine wardrobe?

  • Boots – Depending on their way of going, a horse can cause a lot of damage to itself if its lower legs or hooves are not protected by boots. Boots also support the tendons and ligaments in the legs, helping to prevent strains and other injuries. A pair of travel boots may also be useful for when you’re journeying to competitions and events.
  • Stable rugs – At certain times of year your horse may need some extra protection from the colder elements. Your collection of stable rugs should feature a lightweight rug for autumn and spring, a heavyweight rug for when it’s really cold during the winter months, and a middleweight rug for those in between times. Not sure when you should rug a horse? We’ve got some handy advice elsewhere on our site.
  • Turnout rug – Similar to stable rugs but usually more hardwearing and waterproof. They offer great protection from the elements and keep them clean in the field. Again, you’ll want a selection of rugs for different weather conditions.
  • Cooler rug – Typically multi-purpose, they’ll help your horse to gradually cool off after exercise. They can also help maintain an ideal temperature while travelling and to speed drying and prevent chilling after bathing.
  • Fleece rug – Extremely versatile and useful in a variety of different situations. For example, as a light rug for the stable, or as a substitute for a cooler rug.
  • Fly sheet – A very lightweight and airy sheet designed to protect the horse’s body from irritating insects in the warm summer months. They can even act like sunscreen for your horse’s skin.
  • Fly mask – These are designed to protect the horse’s head from flies in summer. Some even have UV protection, which is brilliant for horses that are prone to sunburn. If you’re wondering whether your horse needs a fly mask then read this article that considers the question.
  • Tail bandage and/or Tail Guard – An important item designed to protect the dock of the tail during transport.

Chapter 3: Grooming kit to leave your horse standing out from the crowd

Horses are certainly the most stunning creatures on Earth (yes, we are biased)! But to keep them looking at their best, you’ll need a full set of grooming and horse care equipment close at hand.

Every good grooming routine starts with a plastic or rubber curry comb, which removes mud, sweat, loose hair and grease from the horse’s coat. Then you’ll need a set of brushes including a mane comb, body brush, dandy brush, and a large brush for their tail.

Every horse will get covered in mud at some point so you’ll also need a wash kit with buckets, sponges, a sweat scraper, and equine shampoo for their sensitive skin. And maybe even a horse washing ‘wand’ that attaches to a hose pipe. Anything to make bath time that bit easier!

For those all-important hooves there are plenty of specialist equine conditioning sprays and oils available. Another everyday essential that you’ll probably end up buying a few of are hoof-picks. 

A hoof-pick will remove any stones or dirt from hooves before they can fester and cause discomfort or infection in these sensitive structures. Metal is usually best. And make sure they’ve a loop at the end so you can easily hang the hoof pick on the stable wall/door. Hoof picks have a tendency to get lost!

Read our recent ultimate guide to horse hoof care and find out what you can do to minimise the risk of your horse developing a problem with their feet.

We know it’s a lot of gear to put together – but grooming and caring for your horse is not just about health and beauty, it’s also a wonderful bonding experience, too.

Don’t forget to have a basic equine healthcare kit to hand. This should include fly repellent, bandages, wound cream, and cleansing wipes. A basic equine first aid kit is relatively inexpensive, so buy one to keep at the yard and one to keep in your horsebox.

Chapter 4: Keeping the yard looking its best

How to choose the best livery yard for your horse is a big question for any new horse owner. After all, it could be your beloved horse’s home for a long time and provide you both with invaluable care and support.

Keeping your horse housed in a professional yard offering a livery service is a great idea. But if you’re asking someone to turn them out for exercise in the mornings, feed and water them, and keep their bedding fresh then it will cost you.

Alternatively you can go for a more cost effective DIY option where you’ll be travelling to your horse twice a day and performing all the stable and horse care duties yourself. Depending on where you’re stabling your horse and any ‘extra’ facilities, this will vary in price.

Your horse is going to eat almost constantly! So feed bins and scoops, feeding and water troughs or buckets, hay nets or racks are all essential. They don’t need to be the most expensive on the market, just make sure they’re durable and not broken or damaged.

Depending on the set up of the yard, you may or may not need yard tools. But if you do then consider some of the following items.

  • Wheelbarrow – You’ll spend a lot of time mucking out. A smaller or medium size one should do the job.
  • Long handled fork – Depending on the type of bedding you use you’ll want one with close prongs (for shavings) or one with four or five prongs (for straw).
  • Broom – Sturdy but relatively lightweight is the best combination.
  • Shovel – Another standard bit of kit.
  • Poop Scoop – Simple bit of kit to stay on top of poo-picking.
  • Buckets and trugs – Super-handy to have around the yard for moving feed, muck and everything in between.

Keeping your horsebox clean and well maintained when you’re out on the road isn’t always an easy job after a long day behind the wheel. Let horsebox insurance take some of the worry out of travel. Breakdown cover is often included, meaning you will never get stuck far from home.

Horse yard

Chapter 5: Getting your horse from A to B in style and safety

You’ll no doubt already be dreaming of travelling to lots of shows and competitions. Or going on lots of outings further afield. So, you’ll probably need to start thinking about having your own horse transport.

There is a vast range of choice when it comes to horse transport. From a handy second-hand horse trailer to a swanky new 7.5-ton horsebox, there are lots of options on offer. Your choice will depend on your budget, the driving licence you have, and the weight you’ll need to carry on board. If you won’t be travelling regularly, then you could always hire transport as and when you require it. Or perhaps borrow it from a very friendly neighbour.

From popular market leaders like Ifor Williams and Equi-Trek to many other niche or luxury brands, all horseboxes and trailers will have their pros and cons you’ll need to consider. And some will fit your requirements better than others. Knowing the ins and outs of the different makes and models will make it much easier for you to decide on the best transport for your needs. We highlighted some things to consider when buying a horsebox in this recent article.

But whatever you do, have a good look at horsebox insurance before you buy. You’ll want to know that your transport will be straightforward to cover.

Chapter 6: Essential horse riding clothing for you

While your horse is looking simply splendid, what about you? Even if you’re not yet at the stage of needing a specialist show kit there’s still plenty you’ll want.

  • Helmet – A true lifesaver and a non-negotiable item. However much you spend, it needs to meet current safety standards and be fitted perfectly. The British Horse Society has some top tips on how to buy the right one in their handy guide.
  • Body protector – If you fall off your horse, you’ll be thankful for all the extra cushioning you can get. There’s a huge range of these available on the market. Some even have an airbag fitted inside that inflates if you fall out of the saddle! But no matter how high-tech they seem, make sure they meet current safety standards.
  • Wellies – Mud, glorious mud. A faithful pair of wellies can’t be beaten!
  • Riding boots – Those with a smooth sole and a small heel are probably the most practical form of footwear and they look good, too. You could pay as little as £30 for a basic pair or far more for some handmade made-to-measure beauties.
  • Breeches or jodhpurs – Jeans are not suitable for riding as they may be uncomfortable for both you and your horse. It’s best to wear some breeches or jodhpurs. Darker coloured ones are preferred for day-to-day wear!
  • Riding gloves – A good pair will keep your hands comfortable and warm as well as providing better control of the reins.
  • Fluorescents/Reflectives – Absolutely essential if you intend to ride on the roads! If you don’t want your horse to become one of those injured or killed on the UK’s roads every year then you’ll need to make sure you can be seen at all times by other road users. You’ll also want to make sure to use high-vis equipment on your horse, too.

Just as you wouldn’t head out without the appropriate clothing, don’t set off without appropriate horsebox insurance. Having the right cover in place at all times is all just part and parcel of good equine care.

Chapter 7: Super stores for all your equestrian shopping needs

Big chain sports shops such as Decathlon often offer affordable equestrian equipment. But there are also specialist stores dotted around the country, such as family-run The Saddlery Shop in Devon or Hope Valley Saddlery in Cheshire.

Many of these are superb and also offer an online shopping facility, and most shops will accept returns. Other well-regarded stores include EQUUS, Naylors, Derby House, and Equestrian World.

But despite the wonders of online, it’s probably still wise to get some items measured correctly. For example, a poorly fitted saddle or helmet could cause discomfort or even serious injury if you were involved in an accident.

From horsebox insurance and veterinary care to hoof picks and saddles, it’s always vital to use specialist sources for all your equine needs.

So that’s our ultimate go-to guide to equestrian equipment. From staying safe with the right kit and horsebox insurance to the best places to buy, we’ve covered a lot of information here. Work through the checklist and see if we’ve forgotten anything.

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.

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