What tack do you need when you're buying your first horse?
Buying a horse

What basic equipment do you need for your first horse?6 min read

Once you’ve decided it’s time to buy a horse of your own, or you’ve already bought one, you’ll need to get some basic equipment for taking care of your horse.

The special equipment you’ll need are the things directly related to caring for and riding or driving your horse.

Although, you might be roaring to buy bits, bridles, saddle pads and saddles before you buy the horse, it’s best to wait.

It’s important that tack fits your horse perfectly or it can cause problems. This is especially true when you’re buying a horse without going to see it yourself first, such as when buying from an agent in another country.

You’ll save money and nerves by buying the tack in the right size the first time and the way to do that is to wait until you can physically measure and fit the tack to your horse.

Your horse may also come with some tack if you’ve negotiated that as a part of the sale. If that’s the case it’s best to first see if what the horse comes with is suitable for you as well and buy new things only after you’ve tried the old tack for a while first.

Buckets, brushes, lead ropes and anything else that doesn’t need to be custom-fitted to your horse can be bought ahead of time – and while you’re waiting for your horse to arrive, this can be a good way to pass the time. You can also buy any gear you’re going to need for yourself, such as a helmet, riding boots and jodhpurs etc.

Food and water

You should also buy hay and any grain or supplements you want to feed your horse – get a supply that will last several weeks. Check and make sure that the fences are in good condition and that the stable is ready for your horse.

See to it that you have a safe place to keep tack and feed and that you know how you’re going to supply water to your horse.

If you have some stuff laying around or if you want to save money, you can make feed and water buckets out of repurposed buckets and barrels.

Any container that hasn’t had toxic materials stored in it (such as rat poison), doesn’t have any sharp edges and has been well cleaned out will do.

You should also store your food in rodent-proof bins and make sure that you have at least a few hay-nets ready. Even if you intend to ground feed your horse, you never know when a hay-net will come in handy!

Basic items like screwdrivers, hammers and any tools you may need to fix things around the stable or paddocks is also good to have on hand in advance – and don’t forget to have first aid kits ready for both people and horses because unexpected stuff always happens around horses.

Equipment for feeding

  • Feed bucket for individual feeding
  • Feed storage bin (preferably metal or plastic with secure lid to prevent rodents) to store feed
  • Water trough or large buckets
  • Water heater or heated buckets if you live in an area that experiences freezing temperatures.

Barn and pasture maintenance

If you’ve already got a property, you probably already own most of the things needed to take care of the property.

Pitchforks, wheelbarrows, shovels and brooms are the same you’d buy from any hardware store for gardening and yard work.

This stuff doesn’t have to be new and shiny to be functional and you can save a pretty penny by buying second hand. This can also be a chance to customise your equipment and make it look really personable with some light DIY.

  • Pitchfork
  • Stable broom
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Manure Fork
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Spare lightbulbs
  • Extension cord
  • A secure and dry place to store hay/feed/tack/supplies

Handling and grooming

  • Halter
  • Lead Ropes
  • Hoof Picks (always get extra)
  • Curry Comb
  • Body Brush
  • Mane Comb
  • Cloth (an old washcloth will do)
  • Fly repellent
  • Blankets for cold weather if needed
  • Sweat sheet if needed

Riding

Depending on if you’re going to ride English or Western, you’ll buy different tack.

To get a saddle that fits both you and your horse, the best thing is to buy a saddle after your horse has arrived home.

You can go and look at different types of saddles before your horse is in the barn so that you have an idea of what you’d like to try out.

Your horse’s comfort always comes before yours when picking saddles, so keep in mind that what you’d like to use may not work for your horse.

Ideally, you’ll find a saddle that is comfortable for your horse and provides you with the kind of support you need. Getting a custom-made saddle or having a fitter come out and adjust an old saddle is also possible.

  • Saddle with girth or cinch
  • A saddle pad or blanket
  • Bridle and bit
  • Helmet
  • Stirrups and stirrup leathers
  • Optional: lunge line
  • Optional: tendon boots, bell boots, any other leg support or protection the horse may need
  • Hi-vis vest for you and hi-vis tack for your horse if you’re going to ride in the evenings

Driving

There are several types of harnesses and you can acquaint yourself with what’s available either ahead of time or after you’ve had your horse for a while. It will depend on the kind of driving you wish to do with your horse.

  • Harness with bridle
  • A safe and sturdy vehicle
  • Driving Whip
  • Helmet

Emergency care

Emergency information and gear should be posted or stored in a place that is easy to find if there is an emergency.

Also make sure that you’ve bought the legally required insurance in your country (public liability insurance, rider insurance etc.) and that coverage starts no later than the day your horse arrives in your care.

You should also find out the last time your horse was shod and line up an appointment for a farrier’s visit. You can also have a vet appointment set up for after the horse has arrived if there’s something you want to check.

Finding a trainer, lessons or club is also something that you can research before your horse arrives.

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