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What does your tack say about you?

Now, I’m not saying we should all go riding around without any tack at all (its really not comfortable enough for a start!), but as I get asked “Should I change the bit?” about ten times a week, I thought a post about “kit” (e.g. bits, martingales, whips, spurs, training aids etc) would be of interest! So, next time you get on your horse, take a moment to really assess what you are putting on him, and what you are using, and think about these 4 points:
1. TRAINING COMES FIRST! No bit of kit is going to paper over cracks in training. If you have a strong horse, putting stronger bits in every six months may help at first, but the reasons that he is strong in the first place will still be there. If you need lot of spur and whip to get your horse going, he will soon learn to ignore them, and where do you go from there?
2. BE BOLD & BREAK THE MOLD! I believe we should all be aiming to ride our horses with as little kit as possible. If your horse doesn’t open its mouth, and accepts the bit, why wear a noseband? Be brave and break the mould – just because everyone else in your Riding Club wears a flash noseband, a running martingale and the new “must have bit”, it doesn’t mean you have to! This goes for discipline-specific “trends”, too. A lot of what we use on horses is superfluous.
3. ARE YOU GOOD ENOUGH? Are you experienced enough, and have good enough “feel” to use whips, spurs and strong bits? I’m not saying they shouldn’t be used, but that they should be used with care and knowledge. So, be honest with yourself… it took a long time for my Dad to let me wear a spur on my horse, and even now I’ll be very choosy about which horses I’ll ride with them on.
4. DO YOUR RESEARCH! Do you truly understand the action that the bit you use has on a horse’s mouth, poll, jaw and neck? I am no bit guru, so if I want advice, I go to a trusted expert. Having always been a bit of a “plain snaffle” man, it is fantastic that we now have such a range of bits on offer, so it is important to find one that really fits your horse’s mouth and suits your partnership.
In my book, less is definitely more when it comes to seeing how good a horse’s foundations are. You never know, with a little help from www.yourhorsemanship.com, you might decide to throw all your kit out!