The All-Around Horse and Rider

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Saddles are seats for the rider, fastened to the horse's back by means of a girth English-style riding , known as a cinch in the Western US, a wide strap that goes around the horse at a point about four inches behind the forelegs less for a pony. It should be tight enough to keep the saddle steady, but not too tight. Tighten it a few times before sitting up, very gently the first time.

If you are a novice, somebody should check the tightness. It is important that the saddle be comfortable for both the rider and the horse as an improperly fitting saddle may create pressure points on the horse's back muscle and cause the horse pain and can lead to the horse, rider, or both getting injured.

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Check there is no mud blobs or wounds where the saddle is to be put. Put it on a little too much to the front and glide it backwards to its right location along the fur. Be careful that the saddlecloth the blanket under the saddle gets straight. Stirrups are supports for the rider's feet that hang down on either side of the saddle. They provide greater stability for the rider but can have safety concerns due to the potential for a rider's feet to get stuck in them.

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If a rider is thrown from a horse but has a foot caught in the stirrup, they could be dragged if the horse runs away. To minimize this risk, a number of safety precautions can be taken. First, most riders wear riding boots with a heel and a smooth, quite narrow, sole. Next, some saddles, particularly English saddles, have safety bars that allow a stirrup leather to fall off the saddle if pulled backwards by a falling rider.

Other precautions are done with stirrup design itself. Western saddles have wide stirrup treads that make it more difficult for the foot to become trapped. A number of saddle styles incorporate a tapedero, which is covering over the front of the stirrup that keeps the foot from sliding all the way through the stirrup. The English stirrup or "iron" has several design variations which are either shaped to allow the rider's foot to slip out easily or are closed with a very heavy rubber band.

A halter US or headcollar UK and Ireland occasionally headstall consists of a noseband and headstall that buckles around the horse's head and allows the horse to be led or tied. The lead rope is separate, and it may be short from six to ten feet, two to three meters for everyday leading and tying, or much longer up to 25 feet 7. When tying the horse, the rope should be short enough that the horse will not easily step over it and get trapped. Either the knot or the fastening to the halter, preferably both, should be easy to open if the horse gets scared it may damage itself trying to get free.

When leading the horse, you should keep the rope such that you can easily give some more leeway without losing your end of it, e. Do not wind it around your hand, as you could damage your hand or get dragged if the horse flees in earnest.

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Bridles usually have a bit attached to reins and are used for riding and driving horses. English Bridles have a cavesson style noseband and are seen in English riding.


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Their reins are buckled to one another, and they have little adornment or flashy hardware. Western Bridles used in Western riding usually have no noseband, are made of thin bridle leather. They may have long, separated "Split" reins or shorter closed reins, which sometimes include an attached Romal.

Western bridles are often adorned with silver or other decorative features. A hackamore is a headgear that uses a heavy noseband of some sort, rather than a bit, most often used to train young horses or to go easy on an older horse's mouth. Hackamores are more often seen in western riding. Some related styles of headgear that control a horse with a noseband rather than a bit are known as bitless bridles.

Reins consist of leather straps or rope attached to the outer ends of a bit and extend to the rider's or driver's hands.

Reins are the means by which a horse rider or driver communicates directional commands to the horse's head. Pulling on the reins can be used to steer or stop the horse.

The sides of a horse's mouth are sensitive, so pulling on the reins pulls the bit, which then pulls the horse's head from side to side, which is how the horse is controlled. Horses should never be tied by the reins : not only do they break easily, but, being attached to a bit in the horse's sensitive mouth, a great deal of pain can be inflicted if a bridled horse sets back against being tied. Be aware that the reins are not like a steering wheel. Ideally you and the horse should communicate such that the horse feels your intentions and acts in accordance.

Warn the horse a few seconds before any intended turn, change in speed — or place where the horse may do something silly. If you have to force the horse to do things, you are likely to end up in a losing fight. Probably you have been giving conflicting or confusing signals; try to avoid unnecessary motion, be very clear and repeat your signals instead of prolonging them.

A bit is a device placed in a horse's mouth, kept on a horse's head by means of a headstall. There are many types, each useful for specific types of riding and training. Trail Training. Horse Care. Barns and Fencing. Conformation Clinic. Hoof Care. Build Confidence.

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