So, it’s time for your very first horseback ride and you just can’t wait to jump on that horse’s back so you can gallop off into the sunset. However, before you ride off on your horse, you will need to tack him up and then you will need to figure out how to actually get up there.
When you tack up a horse, you should start by fastening his halter to the crossties before you do anything else. Once he is properly secured to the crossties, it is time to move on to the next step, using your body brush and your hoof pick. Lift up each foot and clean it to be sure that there are no pebbles lodged in the hoof. Then, brush your horse’s back and sides to be sure that there is no dirt on his body. Once the horse is wearing a saddle blanket and saddle, even a little dirt can create sores on his back. These two simple grooming steps are extremely important, since they help you make sure that your horse is comfortable while you are riding him. After all, an unhappy or uncomfortable horse is not a safe horse.
Now, you are ready to tack up your horse. You should start with the saddle, since it is easiest to tack up a horse when he is still fastened to the crossties. Walk up to your horse from the left side with the saddle pad in your hands. Don’t move too fast. You don’t want to startle him. Place the saddle pad on his back so that the front of the pad is touching his withers, which is the spot between the horse’s neck and shoulders. Be sure the pad is even. If you need to adjust the pad, lift it up to move it instead of sliding it around, since sliding it can make your horse’s hair clump up.
Next, pick up the saddle, being sure that the stirrups are not able to flop around. Place the saddle on the horse’s back so that it is positioned in the hollow space right behind his withers. If your girth is already fastened to the right side of the saddle, reach under the horse’s belly and pull the girth across to connect it to the left side of the saddle. If the girth isn’t on the saddle, walk around the front of your horse to his right side and attach the girth to the right side of the saddle. Then walk back around the front of your horse to his left side to finish fastening the girth. You should make sure that it is not twisted up and you should be careful to pull it tight enough to keep the saddle in place. Don’t forget to adjust your stirrups to the proper length.
Once the saddle is in place, it is time to put the bridle on your horse. Before you approach your horse with the bridle, you should unbuckle the noseband and throatlatch. Next, you should unfasten the halter and put it around your horse’s neck to keep him in place while you bridle him. Lift the bridle’s reins over the horse’s head. Then, stand beside your horse’s head, looking in the same direction that he is looking. Hold the bit with your left hand and the headstall with your right hand and slide the headstall into place behind your horse’s ears. Now, press the bit into the horse’s mouth, without knocking it against his teeth. Slide the headstall the rest of the way back so that the bit is resting in the right spot. Buckle the bridle’s noseband and throatlatch. Don’t forget to unfasten the halter.
Finally, it is time to mount your horse. Stand on his left side facing his back. Grasp some of his mane and the reins loosely in your left hand and hold the stirrup in place with your right hand. Slide your left foot into the stirrup and place your right hand on the saddle’s back or cantle. Push off with your right leg and swing into the saddle, being careful not to kick your horse as you slide your leg across his body. Position your right foot in the stirrup. Now, you are ready to ride your horse.
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