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Agricultural Sciences and should be
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site maintained by the Florida
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Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
horses and horsemanship
4-H HORSE PROGRAM
4-H HORSE PROGRAM
HORSES AND HORSEMANSHIP
This educational material has been prepared for 4-H use by the Cooperative Extension Services of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture and State Land-Grant Universities in cooperation with the National 4-H
Council and the American Quarter Horse Association.
Trade or brand names used in the publications are used only for the purpose of educational information.
The information given herein is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no
endorsement of products or breeds of horses by the Federal Extension Service or State Cooperative
Extension Services is implied, nor does it imply approval of products or breeds of horses to the exclusion
of others which may also be suitable.
This material was originally published by the National 4-H Council, 7100 Connecticut Avenue, Chevy
Chase, Maryland 20815.
Programs and educational materials supported by National 4-H Council; Extension Service, United
States Department of Agriculture; and all Cooperative Extension Services of the State Land-Grant
Universities are available to all persons regardless of race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin or
handicap. All are equal opportunity employers.
TACK AND EQUIPMENT & ITS CARE
An owner of a horse needs equipment with which to use
or work the animal in the desired duty. Etiquette has
been built up in the use of a horse so that a definite
pattern of tack is used according to the use of the animal.
Tack and equipment can run into a lot of money. Good
sound tack can be procured by careful selection. The
simpler a horse is rigged, the more comfort to the horse
and the rider. Accessories such as tie-downs, martingales
have a place but lead to the suspicion that the horse has
bad habits. Therefore, if your horse does not head toss,
rear, or lag on the bit, forget them. The only place for
fancy, highly trimmed dangles, etc. is on a parade horse.
A horse well trained with a good mouth can be ridden
with the minimum of equipment.
SELECTION AND CARE OF LEATHER
Many 4-H members purchase used equipment. Leather is
perishable yet it can be taken care of in such a manner to
give years of service. In buying any piece of leather
goods, study it for strength, pliability and service.
Certain items as stirrup straps should be sound and have
sufficient strength to hold one's weight in any period of
stress. Inspect each item carefully, particularly around
buckles, bends and attachments. Leather which is stiff or
dried out cracks and is very brittle. Thin areas designate
that the leather is worn and therefore not as strong as the
maker intended. Leather tears or rips around the tongue
of buckles. On all stitching be sure it has life. Dried
thread at stitchings is very weak and can lead to trouble.
Leather should be kept dry and clean. Sponging after use
to remove the dirt and sweat is very important. Use
saddle soap or leather oil to keep leather pliable. A
system whereby you can hang your tack is best. A dry
area where air circulates is best. A stable is a poor place
for leather because of dampness and the ammonia
liberated from the manure. Never, no matter how wet
leather gets, place it near heat. Use Neats Foot oil or
vaseline to get softness into the leather. Good glycerine
or special soft soaps are available and are cheap in
comparison to the replacement of parts. Regular
cleaning and inspection add to the use and life of any
Curry combs should be used with sufficient pressure to
get the job done. Be careful on parts which are not
heavily muscled. The curry comb roughs up the hair in
order to get the deep dirt and dandruff.
Rice straw brushes are stiff and if used in a rocking
stroke will penetrate the hair and lift out the dirt. Many
owners depend only on a rice straw brush and can
present a well groomed animal.
Body brushes are a finishing brush. They are not
intended for getting out deep dirt. Usually, they are
made of hair. Therefore, they are softer and tend to bring
the oil into the hair adding gloss and bloom to the coat.
Rubbing cloths are used to further enhance the bloom
and remove the last particles of dirt. A good woolen rub
cloth should be washed frequently to keep it sweet, clean
Scrapers are essential if one washes his horse. They help
a lot if you have really sweated a horse up. Never, by an
intent of purpose, put a horse away when sweated. Cool
out your horse before stabling. This is one reason why
you should walk your horse home the last half mile of
Hoof picks are a very essential item. The hoof is a prime
feature of a horse. To let manure collect in the foot leads
to thrush and other difficulties. The collection of stones
and gravel in and about the frog can soon lead to
lameness. Keep a healthy foot on your horse. A hoof
should contain moisture to stay pliable.
The character of an individual is often judged on how
well his animal looks. A dirty, shaggy looking animal
designates that the owner is shiftless, lazy and does not
pay attention to details. Whenever you put your animal
to work he is on exhibition. It does not matter if you are
just going to the store or to a show. Appearance is the
Curry combs come in many styles, such as rubber, metal,
square, round, and it is a matter of personal preference.
TACK AND EQUIPMENT & ITS CARE
A dried out hoof does not have springiness to absorb the
shock which could injure the whole leg. Hoof dressings
are available to those that have to keep a horse housed.
Horses on pasture run in the dew or streams which aids
materially in keeping the hoof in good condition.
Mane combs can also be used in the tail to keep them
untangled and free flowing. Shears may be required to
trim the foretop, roach the mane, trim the ears, head and
legs. The type of horse you own dictates where you trim.
Under no circumstances clip all the hair on the inside of
the ear. Nature put this hair there as a protection. Keep it
that way but trim it attractively.
Bridles come in many styles. Each style calls for a
special complement of bits. Here is where the etiquette
begins. We do not use a driving bit in any saddle horse
bridle. We do not, likewise, use English type bits in a
Western bridle or vice versa. Depending whether you
ride English, Hunt, or Western there is a definite pattern
to follow in rigging your horse.
The reins, bits and headstall compose the bridle. The
different types of bridles commonly used are the
Western, Snaffle, Pelham, Walking Horse and
Weymouth or double bridle. The Western bridle has
long cheek pieces. They are often wide and curved in
various shapes. It has one set of reins and may have curb
straps. The double bridle is most commonly used on
three and five-gaited horses for bridle path and show. It
is composed of the snaffle and curb bits. On each end of
the bit are large rings where the reins are attached. The
Crown piece c;
Browband -t -- ,
~cll .in '
snaffle bridle is a single bit bridle commonly used for
hunting, jumping, or trail riding. The reins and cheek
pieces of the hunting snaffle bridle are sewn into rings of
the bit for safety. There is only one set of reins and they
are plaited to prevent them from slipping through the
fingers. The Pelham bridle is used for polo, hunting,
park, and country riding. It has a single bit with double
reins. The bit might be described as a combination of the
curb and snaffle bits. The Walking Horse bridle is
similar to that used for the Western type horse. It has
one set of reins with a Walking Horse curb bit. The bit
may have a slightly curved bar which fits between six
and nine inch cheek pieces. The cheeks are often curved
and the rein fits on the lower end of the cheeks giving
leverage. The longer shank or cheek piece helps raise the
POPULAR FOR BREAKING
HI ill ----
Cn.: rc:-- --
Cu, r n j--,--- ,
WITH CURB BIT
Crown piece or
Brc. Cjno J-
C-om nir. I
PELHA, DOUBLE-REINED BRIDLE
PELHAM, DOUBLE-REINED BRIDLE
TACK AND EQUIPMENT & ITS CARE
head and maintain the gait. The hackamore has one set
of reins and an ordinary headstall that holds a braided
rawhide or rope noseband with a knot-like arrangement
under the horse's jaw. A hackamore can be used to
control and train a young horse without injuring his
mouth. A properly adjusted hackamore rests on the
horse's nose, about 4 inches from the top of the nostrils
or on the base of the cheek bones.
Saddles come also in many styles. The saddle indicates
the style of riding you are doing. This is more true than
the type of your animal. Some horses look better tacked
one way than they would in another type of gear.
A saddle should have a spread in its tree to fit
comfortably on the withers of your horse. A poor fitting
saddle can cause sores. A poor fitting saddle can also
roll on mounting and dismounting. For the comfort of
both you and your mount, pay strict attention as to the
tree. Your horse may require a narrow, high tree or it
may do best with a cut back. Regardless, seek some
advice and don't use just any saddle.
A saddle should be light and pliable in order that you
can use your leg aids to advantage. A new saddle takes
time to get broken in whereby one can best get his
signals across to the mount.
Pay strict attention to the seat. This must fit you. To get
a proper seat, the length and depth must be suitable. A
good rider cannot look good if the saddle does not
Stirrup hangings are placed in various positions on
saddles. Be sure that the stirrups hang so that you can
get full weight in them. Stirrups set forward throw one
into the cantle. Stirrups set back throw one into the
S- Seal ...
Rope Slrap 4
Lace slring- -
Dee ring -
Front jockey and
cinch strap- '
Sor back jockey
-- Leather flank
Stirrup leather keeper
- p l
TACK AND EQUIPMENT & ITS CARE
pommel or fork. A rider must feel at home to enjoy his
ride. If you are not secure in the saddle, your horse
knows it and is not likely to give you his best.
The saddle tree shown here has many advantages.
Besides holding the saddle when not in use, it can be
used to properly clean your saddle. Note, you set the
saddle on one end to store. To clean the under side of
the saddle just tip it over into the U at the other end. The
tray makes a convenient and neat place to store supplies.
Some horsemen prefer to suspend western saddles from
an overhead pole or rafter through the saddle fork or
around the horn.
Bits are made in various styles. Each was designed for a
definite purpose. Much injury can be done to the tender
bars of the horse's mouth with bits and heavy hands. The
bit is just one of your aids. A rider sends a message from
his hands down the reins to the horse's mouth. Reins and
bits are not necessarily the emergency brake found on an
automobile. The slightest movement of a finger or
dropping or raising of the wrist should carry your intent
to your mount.
Straight, jointed and ported bits are found everywhere.
Select a hit of the proper length of mouth piece to fit
your horse. Adjust the bridle so that the bit just raises the
comer of the mouth. In this position the bit will rest on
the bars of the mouth. Try the simplest first and if this
does not do the job, try another. Short and long shanked
curb bits are available. A long shanked heavily parted or
spaded bit is not essential. English curb bits are fitted
with a flat curb chain. Western bits utilize a flat strap for
their curbs. During cold weather remove the frost in the
bit by warming it before placing in the horse's mouth.
--Lip strap dee '
-.".' --- Mouthpiece
-. Curb chain hook JEe, iori 7
-'---Shank 6 Ringsf
--- Reing PELHAM C
WEYMOUTH CURB BIT
S '.-Curb ."rap
USED ON MOST COW
.. -.-,_E Brace bar
SPADE MOUTH BIT:
USED ON MANY STOCK
points of attachment
r curb chain
or two sets of reins
WALKING HORSE BIT
, .. .:--Swivel
DEE RACE BIT:
OFTEN USED ON
r 4 '"Mouthpiece
4, 11.t Rein loop
ROPER CURVED CHEEK BIT:
USED ON MANY ROPING
S -Cuib chain hook
V.r'i _.. M.uin piece
A CURB BIT USED ON
HEAVY HARNESS HORSES
-- Rein ring
BAR BIT: USED ON TROTTING
HARNESS HORSES, WHICH
CARRY CHECK REINS AND ARE
DRIVEN WITH STRONG HAND
: Rein ring
.i', -- Mouthpiece
HALF-CHEEK SNAFFLE BIT USED
ON HARNESS RACE HORSES,
ROADSTERS AND FINE
TACK AND EQUIPMENT & ITS CARE
1. This document is 4HHSG02, one of a series of the 4-H Youth Development Program, Florida Cooperative
Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Printed. Please visit the
FAIRS Website at http://hammockifas.ufl.edu.
2. D. C. Gaylord, University of Connecticut, Debbie Glauer, member of 4-H Animal Science Design Team,
Department of Family, Youth and Community Science, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611.
.LI, UNIVERSITY OF
Cooperative Extension Service
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES, Christine
Taylor Waddill, Director, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture, publishes this information to further the purpose
of the May 8 and June 30, 1914 Acts of Congress; and is authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only
to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, age, sex, handicap or national origin. The information in this
publication is available in alternate formats. Single copies of extension publications (excluding 4-H and youth publications) are available
free to Florida residents from county extension offices. Information on copies for out-of-state purchase is available from Publications
Distribution Center, University of Florida, PO Box 110011, Gainesville, FL 32611-0011. Information about alternate formats is available from
Educational Media and Services, University of Florida, PO Box 110810, Gainesville, FL 32611-0810. This information was published
December 1989, Florida Cooperative Extension Service.