Suggestions for Tack?
I ride English, hunt seat equitation. Looking for an "all-around" saddle, a bridle (basic snaffle bit) a good girth, stirrup leathers, all that good stuff. I've got all the other things (boots, halter, etc) covered. (My trainer said I would need an "all-around" saddle. I hope that makes sense.)
I'm pretty new to the "tack world", because I myself have never owned a horse before until now, I did lease but my barn provided me with tack since it was the barn's horse. I'm not the type that will spend $5,000 dollars on a saddle. I did see on Horse.com a tack set for about $230 which is cheap, but I'm not so sure. I do want tack that will last me at least through a few seasons. I am looking for cheaper tack but am willing to spend a little more than I thought.
Oh, and all-leather girths are not suitable for my horse, I need something with ventilation for summer. Any suggestions?
I'd like to know where to buy the tack, how much it is, and your opinion on it.
(Sorry if I didn't include everything that is important, I'm new to this! Just ask if you need any more info on my horse/my preferences, etc!)
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What I would suggest is to stay away from those starter saddle packages. The leather is of very poor quality, and I've never met a rider they actually fit to. What I would suggest is to get go online and look for used stables of high brands, that you can get likely for the price range you're looking for. They are amazing saddles, amazing quality and they will be well broken into for you.
If you're not sure what to look for, if you were to post the general area you're in, and what your budget is, there will be a lot of people on here who will search online and help you some good ones.
Don't go for those starter sets!!
Many are poorly made and won't last very long.
Now, this depends on the person, but I LOVE my Wintec. Saddle, girth, bridle, everything. Great quality and can hold up to horses flipping over, rolling in water and mud, running into trees, the rain, the sun. Great saddle. I know a few people who show in Wintecs. It's unpopular since they're not leather, but I see no proble with it.
I also really like the gullet system. I can switch it so my sister can ride one of the ponies, I can ride my mare, or switch to one of our drafts. It doesn't mean the saddle fits perfectly, but you can get it close.
Another bit of advice. Don't buy for the name. Really.
Stay far away from "saddle packages"; they're total junk. For $300 you can find some nice older Crosbys, Courbettes, etc., maybe even a Toulouse or an older Stubben if you look hard enough. I'm not a Wintec fan, but they are reasonably priced and many seem to like the synthetic material.
I shop at SmartPak online; orders over $75 ship free and they offer free return shipping on all sized items. Their customer service is excellent.
I love my Professional's Choice girths for schooling in the summer. They're breathable and come apart to be washed. Depending on the horse, you can purchase many types of snaffles-- loose rings, eggbutts, Dee rings, Pessoa gags, bauchers, French links, Dr. Bristols, single joint, hollow mouth, copper, Aurigan, stainless steel, etc. If the horse is already working well in a certain bit, stick with it. A good, relatively cheap brand for bits is Korsteel.
With bridles, you get what you pay for. If you buy new, I advise staying above the $60 mark at the very least. The higher the price tag, the better the quality and the longer the bridle will last (in general). I have a gorgeous $300+ Wylde show bridle that I expect will last me a good 15+ years. I also have a $50 schooling bridle that I bought three years ago and is already cracking and the dye is coming off.
Stirrup irons don't matter much to me. I don't know what brand mine are and I can't tell the difference between high-end fillis irons and cheap ones. Unless you have knee issues, there's no need to splurge on the high end composite ones, either.
The leathers you buy will depend on your saddle. If you end up with a lighter-colored saddle or one with calfskin, you'll want to splurge on nice calfskin stirrup leathers so you don't scuff up the flaps.
My favorite leather cleaner is Horseman's One Step. Don't oil unless the leather is very stiff, as it breaks down the leather over time if done too frequently.
You might keep an eye on this site - Saddles and More - I see some nice used stuff on there fairly often.
I would suggest you visit local tack shops in your area. Some shops also take saddles in for resale so you could see and sit in various models. You can get a better idea of what is comfortable for you. The next thing is to make sure the saddle fits your horse. Your instructor should be able to help there. One good thing about shopping local is it's easier to return or exchange if it doesn't fit.
As others have stated, stay away from the cheap packages available on line.
I recently bought a mohair girth. Natural fiber and it breathes. I got mine on line at Wind Rider. Not inexpensive but a nice product.
Remember all saddles don't fit all horses. So your first question should be, what saddles are likely to fit my horse reasonably well? Then your second should be, what saddle will fit me reasonably well? After that...well then you choose based on availability and price.
Online can be a great place to get bargains, and there are some people who find great gear there, but I personally would not buy an online saddle I had never sat in before, or with no brilliant return policy. You just don't know how it will fit you or your horse.
After a while you'll probably get a feel for what will fit your horse, and you'll be able to go to tack places and make a reasonable guess as to what will fit, and what will be adjustable enough, at this stage though, I'd recommend you get a professional saddle fitter out, or have a saddle you can try first, whether it be borrowing a friends and buying the same brand, or having a saddle out on a one day trial.
As mentioned here, Wintec saddles are rather popular. They're not the greatest saddle around, but they're generally pretty okay, and probably the best new saddle in that price range. The quality is okay, fit is okay and position is okay. They fit a range of horses with normal backs and are quite affordable. I have a Wintec dressage saddle and it's not the best saddle, but its been great for me. I've had it for 10 years and used on 10+ different horses. It's not the best saddle, and if I ever started competing seriously I'd get another, but its great for just messing about.
At this stage though, you might look at buying a second hand saddle, but again be cautious, if you google it there is heaps of information online.
Bridles, well whatever you like, they vary in quality but they should all work. Girths, up to you really, I tend to just use synthetic (and they vary in quality), but if that doesn't work for you look at alternatives.
I love my wintec all purpose saddle. Its so comfy in my opinion and fits my horse really well. It was my first ever saddle for my horse and I wouldn't think twice again about buying it. It just depends, if I were you since you don't seem to have much of a knowledge about saddles I'd stick close to home and go down to your horse store and ask them to help try a couple saddles on your horse. It is probably the best idea for both you and your horse.
Also find out if there are any tack sales in your area. There are a few where I live that get 20-30 and even more people selling used tack. There's always some nice equipment and you can bargain. Not sure if I'd get a saddle at one, though, unless you made sure you could return it if it didn't work.
You should take a look at used or consignment tack stores. Even ones that are a couple hours away can save you hundreds of dollars and make the drive worth it.
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