Tack and Show Equipment

About Western Tack

Today's western saddles have been greatly influenced by the Spanish Vaquero who were Cowboys. When the first saddle was developed, it didn't have a horn which was later invented by the Spanish and Mexican vaqueros (Kelly, 2011). The needs of the cowboy's job required different tack than was used in "English" disciplines. Covering long distances, and working with half-wild cattle, frequently at high speeds in very rough, brushy terrain, meant the ever-present danger of a rider becoming unseated in an accident miles from home and support. Thus, the most noticeable equipment difference is in the saddle, which has a heavy and substantial tree (traditionally made of wood) to absorb the shock of roping. The western saddle features a prominent pommel topped by a horn that came about through trial and error for developing an efficient way of towing livestock (Kelly, 2011).

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The horn is the easiest way to identify a western saddle. It allows the rider support and can be used for a lasso or other equipment (Gen, 2011). The western saddle also consist of a deep seat and a high cantle. Depending on the local geography, tapaderos ("taps") cover the front of the stirrups to prevent brush from catching in the stirrups. Cowboy boots have somewhat more pointed toes and higher heels than a traditional work boot, modifications designed to prevent the rider's foot from slipping through the stirrup during a fall and being dragged.

To allow for communication with the horse even with a loose rein, the bridle also evolved. The biggest difference between "English" and "Western" bridles is the bit. Most finished "Western" horses are expected to eventually perform in a curb bit with a single pair of reins that has somewhat longer and looser shanks than the curb of an English Double bridle or a pelham bit. Different types of reins have developed over the years. Split reins, which are the most commonly used type of rein in the western industry, Mecates, which are a single rein that are used on California hackamores, Romal reins, also known as romals, which is a type of rein that has two distinct and balanced parts which are the reins and romal connected with a short strap and roping reins which are a single rein that varies in length and is often used in roping and other speed events (Tack, 2017). Young horses are usually started under saddle with either a simple snaffle bit, or with the classic tool of the vaquero, the bosal-style hackamore.

Rider attire

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The clothing of the Western rider differs from that of the "English" style dressage, hunt seat or Saddle seat rider. Practical Western attire consists of a long-sleeved work shirt, denim jeans, boots, and a wide-brimmed cowboy hat. Usually, a rider wears protective leather leggings called "chaps" (from the Spanish chaparajos; often pronounced "shaps") to help the rider stick to the saddle and to protect the legs when riding through brush. Clean, well-fitting work clothing is the usual outfit seen in rodeo, cutting and reining competitions, especially for men, though sometimes in brighter colors or finer fabrics.

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