With the exception of metal or composite horse bits and stirrup irons, most tack is crafted from leather. However, almost every item can also be found in manmade materials. Leather tack, whether it is a saddle, girth, halter or lungeing surcingle, is appreciated by many riders for its inherent beauty, rich color, texture and fine stitch detail. Leather promises great durability, but only when properly cared for with regular cleaning and conditioning with pH balanced leather care products specifically formulated for the task. Leather tack is available to suit all budgets, but it is generally more expensive than most synthetic alternatives.|
Synthetic tack is appreciated by some riders because it is economical, durable, exceptionally easy-care and lighter in weight than leather versions. A synthetic saddle is virtually weatherproof, won’t scratch easily and can be cleaned with soap and water. A synthetic girth can simply be hosed off and hung to dry. A nylon halter can be soaked in soapy water and scrubbed with a brush.
Some premium quality synthetic tack, however, is equal in price and just as attractive as its leather counterpart. For example, a premium German-made neoprene dressage girth has a clean look suitable for competition and provides exceptional comfort to those horses that prefer it. Many protective horse boots in all price points are constructed exclusively of manmade materials that offer superior impact absorption, ventilation and comfortable coverage.
Regardless of the type of English tack you choose to own, you’ll need to determine the right size for your horse. At their most basic, saddles are offered in terms of seat size (for the rider) and saddle tree width (for the horse). Seat sizes are provided in inches with an increase of a half-inch for each size up. A common seat size for a child is 15" or 15½"; adult sizes run from 16½" for a petite rider to 18" for a taller adult. Flap rotation for a jumping saddle and flap length for a dressage saddle can also be factors in sizing a saddle to a rider. Tree widths range from narrow to regular to extra-wide to accommodate the shape and breadth of a horse’s shoulders, withers and back. Panel shape, type and length can also be factors in sizing a saddle to a horse.
Most other tack, with a few exceptions, comes in miniature, pony, cob, horse (sometimes called full), oversize and draft sizes. Dover Saddlery specializes in offering cob, horse and oversize items, with some pony saddles, saddle pads, bridles and bits in the collection. Exact sizing between tack manufacturers varies, but generally, cob as a size borrows its name from the type of horse called cob. This is a sturdy, small horse with a large pony-like physique and a height of about 15 hands (which takes it out of the pony category). Cob sizing is typically well suited to smaller horse breeds such as the Morgan and Arabian, but it can also be a good fit for an individual of a larger horse breed but with small bones or a refined head. As a loose rule, cob sizing is generally appropriate for a horse weighing from 750 to 900 pounds.
Horse or full size generally fits average boned horses standing from about 15.1 hands to 16.1 hands and ranging in weight from about 900 to 1200 pounds as a loose rule. Oversize may be a great fit for horses standing 16.2 hands and above (but not a true draft breed) and weighing 1200 to 1600 pounds. It is possible that a shorter horse with a very large head, however, may be well suited to an oversize halter or bridle.
Exceptions to the cob, horse and oversize ranges include girths and stirrup leathers, which are sized according to lengths measured in inches or centimeters. Bits are offered in inches or centimeters that reflect the length of the mouthpiece, and some bits include measurements pertaining to the size of the cheeks or rings of the bit. Stirrup irons are offered in inches that reflect the width of the stirrup bar and are meant to provide clearance of the rider’s boot width.
Whether you’re looking for a saddle and all the fittings (leathers, stirrups, girth), a bridle with reins and a bit, or a halter and lead, enjoy shopping Dover Saddlery to select items from all the most popular tack brands in the world.