For a first time owner it can very daunting knowing what kit you need straight away. Horses require a lot of equipment, some of it is essential and some of it is what we buy because we like it, but it is not essential. When getting your first horse/pony you can feel very unprepared and worried that you haven’t got everything you need. There is no need to worry, we have complied a list of essential items you will need to care for your first horse or pony. Once you have been an owner for a while you will begin to see more products that you like and find your own way for how you want to do things. Also remember that even if you have not got everything you need, fellow liveries will always step in and help you out. Find your local tack shop, most are open 7 days a week, so you can always pop down there, or with the internet most items are only a day or 2 away.
- Saddle: Some horses you buy come with tack, other you will need to get your own. Your saddle is likely to be one of the most expensive items you buy after the actual horse, so it is really, really important to get the right one. Make sure you seek the help of a professional saddle fitter, even if your horse came with a saddle it is best practice to get it checked, to make sure it fits both you and your horse. There are some saddlers who do not carry stock and only offer a fitting service, and other who have wide range of saddles available to try. Make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to do with your horse and what your budget is, then give them a call and book an appointment. Make sure they are fully qualified and insured, you can find a list of them on the Society of Master Saddlers Website Also ask fellow liveries and friends who they recommend to use.
- Bridle: Again there are lots of different types of bridles and bits available to use, they vary in strength and how/ where they apply pressure. A good start is to ask the old owners what they were using and get the same, again always seek help from a professional. Your riding instructor is a good place to start, and there are also professional bit and bridle fitters who hold clinics and conduct yard visits to help you get the best combination for your horse. If you are struggling with where to start a plain cavesson bridle with an eggbut snaffle is a good place, again be sure to get the correct size bit for your horses mouth. More advice on fitting can be found here: http://nsbits.com/2014/01/15/measuring-your-horse-for-a-bit/
- Once you have got your tack it is very important to tack care of it. Tack should be regularly cleaned to prevent it rubbing the horse and also so you can check the stitching and make sure there are no splits or tears. For this you will need a tack cleaning kit. A basic one consists of 2 sponges and some saddle soap. There are loads of different types out there on the market at the moment. Bars, tuns, liquids and spray bottles. It really is a case of trial and error to see which ones you like best and which work best on your tack. My personal preference are the squeeze tubes, because i fins them very easy to use and store, my favourite brands are Renapur and Oakwood. If you are buying new tack some of them come with cleaners that are made by the saddle company, or you can ask your saddle fitter for advice, but ultimately it comes down to what you prefer. It is also a good idea to invest in a cover for your saddle and a bag for your bridle. Now days most new saddles and some bridles come with covers, however make sure the cover and bag is waterproof and machine washable, to give your tack the best protection possible. Again with these there are hundreds on the market and it comes down to your budget and preference to which ones you get.
- Vet kit, this is an essential item. It does not have to be really fancy a basic one will suffice. Most tack shops or eBay etc sell complete vet kits, which are a good starting point. You can add to it as you go along. A guide to what you should have it there can be found here.
- Grooming Kit – This is something you will use everyday, so make sure you pick one that you like. It is always good to have a feel of the brushes first to see how they fit in your hand, for comfort etc. There are literally hundreds of different types of grooming kit on the market ranging from a couple of pounds up to hundreds of pounds. It really is all about budget and personal preference. You will need :
- body brush
- dandy brush
- curry comb
- hoof pick
- mane comb
- face brush
- water brush
- Fly Spray
This is a very basic kit, again you can buy complete sets from any tack shop or online stores very cheaply. I would suggest getting one of these and then updating and adding to it as you go along.
Also check with the livery yard owner if they will provide any shelving or saddle and bridle racks as well. Some yards give you your own space equipped with racks and shelves, some provide lockers and other just provide the space.
If you are just getting space make sure you get saddle and bridle racks for your tack, you can get wall mounted ones you screw in, or you can get free standing ones if you do not want to attempt DIY. Also look in to some shelving or a big plastic box to put everything else in. DIY shops and Groupon always have really good deals on things like this. Again once you have settled into ownership you will gain a better idea of how you want to set up and store your equipment.
Finally it is always good to have a spare head collar and lead ropes to hand as well as a few extra hoof picks. These things are the bare essentials to help you get through the beginning of horse ownership. Other equipment you might need will depend on what type of livery you are on, if your horse lives in or out and also the horse.
The most important thing is to remember to enjoy the journey and have fun.
Don’t forget to check out all the brilliant tack room storage items we have, to help you keep your tack room organised as your collection grows.