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How to Tack up your Horse for Western Riding

Properly tacking up a horse is important for the safety, comfort and performance of both horse and rider. The following is general information for tacking up a horse for Western riding:

  1. You start by placing a saddle pad or blanket in the center of the horse's back.
  2. Position a Western saddle on top of the saddle pad or blanket. There should be a few inches of the pad or blanket in front of the saddle to help prevent saddle sores.
  3. Attach the cinch to the off billet (not pictured) on the right side of the horse.
  4. Go around to the horse's left side and tighten the cinch by using the latigo. This is commonly known as 'cinching up'. The cinch should be tightened in three stages to ensure it is snug enough. It should be tightened when you first put on the saddle. It should be tightened again after you finish tacking up. Finally, it should be tightened again after you perform some groundwork or lead the horse to your destination. This helps to ensure that your cinch is tight enough to secure your saddle.
  5. Attach the uptugs of the breast collar to the dee rings on both sides of the saddle.
  6. Run the breast collar's center strap between the horse's front legs and attach it to the breast collar dee ring on the cinch.
  7. Finally, remove the horse's halter and bridle up the horse. A noseband may be used to keep the horse's head at a certain height. It helps prevent the horse from throwing its head and is widely used in roping and gaming events. A bridle is used to maintain control of a horse. Consisting of a headstall, curb strap, reins and bit, a bridle is used when riding a horse, unlike a halter which is used to control a horse on a lead from the ground. The bridle secures to the horse's head with a throat latch. A tie down is used to connect a noseband and a cinch. Tie downs are not always used.