Well Dressed Horse

It is no secret to anyone that has been a part of the equestrian world that tack is not only essential to the sport but also goes through waves of trends. I am going to talk about some of the things that most of us probably see often in our sport regarding tack use that are really easy fixes. And no I don’t mean that anyone has to go buy the nicest or most expensive stuff. I personally see tack as a long term investment so I spend a bit more but regardless of your tack budget your horse can still be turned out respectfully for daily rides. Not rocket science just basic horsemanship in my eyes.

I am going to insert pics from various blogger instagrams to show awesome examples of what I am talking about (in that the pics show great turnout 🙂 ). And it will share a bunch of instagrams that you all should be following if you aren’t yet!

(ETA: I didn’t post incorrect examples because I don’t want to personally take pictures of each item – I will try to find examples online though and can link to them.)

The basic essentials are usually the bridle and saddle fittings. The most common things that we’ll see with bridles are:

saggy or tight browbands 

Handsomest squirrel ears around. #coconino #usea #jogup #eventing #N3D #psofsweden #thoroughbred #ottb #naturalhorse

A photo posted by Amanda Chance (@the900facebookpony) on


high or low hanging bits

A photo posted by Katherine Mackin (@khmackin) on


no snaffle rein on pelham, gag, and elevator bits

A photo posted by L. Williams (@voidivi) on


improper placement of keepers on full cheek snaffles

A photo posted by Olivia (@hellomylivia) on


high or low nosebands 

For saddles there are a lot of elements. I think that a lot of people over look how important it is to have the right pads and saddle/pad placement (after of course a properly fitting saddle). If your saddle is sitting on the edge or over your pads you are inadvertently creating an uneven pressure point.

saddle fit (not touching this)

girth adjustment (some horses need anatomical girths or something offset)

A photo posted by Jenifer Slabaugh (@j_alean) on

A few of my favorite things. #relativelystable #cwd #mattes

A photo posted by Kristen M. (@stampyandthebrain) on


saddle and pad placement

A photo posted by Stephanie (@hand_gallop) on


saddles too large for pads (pressure points on the spine)

A photo posted by Karen M (@patentlybay) on

pads not adequately pulled into the gullet of saddle (pressure on withers)

A photo posted by bekaburke (@bekaburke) on

Thanks to all the awesome ladies I linked to for dressing for the occasion day in day out 😉 And posting awesome sauce pics too. It isn’t that hard to have your horse look well dressed regardless of what things you own, lust for, or don’t have. All of these things are just basic horsemanship in my eyes but I guess I can run with Monica’s hashtag and say that we should all have a little #tackpolice in us!

How about you guys? How do you feel about daily turnout? Doesn’t matter? Act like you’re riding for GM daily?

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  1. I’m confused by this post: you have pictures of ‘Well Dressed Horses’ (btw, all of these horses look great), but then you listed some common things that are incorrect or your pet peeves, but none of those things are shown in the pictures…

    1. It is a lot easier to show what something should look like than to personally take pictures of what things shouldn’t look like or search out pictures of my so called “pet peeves” or basic tack set up details. I figured it would be nice to share a few instagrams along the way as well. I stated at the beginning that I would be showing positive examples. Sorry you didn’t get it.

  2. My work has instagram blocked so I couldn’t see any of your photos (sad face). But it’s great to share some well turned out horses! I agree with the above it would be helpful to show things incorrectly too so readers can get a visual.
    My horses and I love to play dress up! Well… I do. They probably hate it. I think having correctly fitting tack is really important not just for aesthetics but for function. So while I may not always use the highest quality, most expensive brands of things like saddle pads or girths, I still make sure they fit properly so my horses are comfortable.

    1. Ah boo. I will see if I can find links to share for example of what I am talking about from books or something. I don’t like to share pictures pointing “negative” things out unless they are of me or mine.

      1. Totally agree! Not good to shame other riders at all. I wouldn’t stress about it. But might be fun to have a silly photo shoot with your own pony with the pad not pulled up or a too big bridle or something.

  3. Correctly fitted tack is so important! It’s not arbitrary–every strap or other element has a purpose. No snaffle rein on leverage bits that also have snaffle action drives me insane! I love that you posted examples of good turnout instead of showing negativity.

  4. I find it interesting that in the UK and Australia a correctly fitted cavesson noseband lies 1-2 “fingers” down from the cheek bone so as not to press on the nerve that runs there where as in the US they seem to be fitted immediately below the noseband. Also an attractively fitted browband is usually slightly too high and too tight for the horse, what suits visually is actually not ideal.

    My pet peeves is hooves too long/untended, nosebands too tight, drops or flash attachments too tight or low.

    1. Yeah usually I aim for a finger below the cheekbones. But interesting about the broadband. Usually when they aren’t too tight they don’t stay as high unless they have tight loops around the headstall so they don’t slide down.

      Lots of people like to have nosebands and flashes extremely tight. I have actually debated over this because I don’t like mine really tight.

  5. Full cheek keepers that are too low drive me NUTS! Totally defeats the purpose (and, really, could make it even more dangerous)!

  6. I am actually ok with leaving off full cheek keepers – depending on a lot of different factors. Adding in the keepers adds in an element of leverage that some people may want, and others may not. I’ve used a full cheek both ways, but my preference for Tristan right now is to leave them off. (When he’s not in total derp mode he goes in a full cheek for jumping/going outside.)

  7. What a fun post! I usually try to go for color-coordinated, safe, and functional turnout on myself and my horse. Sometimes the color is a little loud- GM would die haha!

  8. Ah, thanks for featuring Miles and I! I’m a big stickler for tenting your saddle pads, and also making sure excess leather is in keepers (and stays there!)

  9. I first read this in my RSS feed which doesn’t show the IG photos, only the names, so I got to guess at what pictures you put in all the Instagrams as I read it, then see if I was right when I visited your actual page. I spit out my vodka tonic when I got to Connor – was totally expecting the picture of the TSF girth from that show jumping round right after I got it, not pony yoga! Haha! Thanks for the laugh, needed it.