If we set up the equipment before bringing in horses we don't have to go around them (horses) unnecessarily.
Check the ride board to find out what horse you will ride and how many riders will be with you. The first to arrive will set
up in the corner and ground tie if their horse is on the ground tie list. The second rider will set up at the tack room pole
and the third will set up at the store room pole. (Horses referenced as tie high will do better at the tie poles rather than
ground tie.) This makes traffic flow the best possible if people are arriving at different times.
Check the ride board to see what horse you have been assigned. If there is not an assignment, ask me. Remember, the
horse abbreviation list is next to the ride board. If there is a strange note by your name ask me about it.
As you enter the Big Room, pick up the horse tip sheet to help you set up your equipment for the horse you are riding.
They are located to the lower right as you enter the Big Room.
The next thing you want to do (if you are not arriving in them) is to put on your helmet and boots. MAKE SURE THE
HELMET IS ADJUSTED PROPERLY WITH BOTH THE DIAL AND CHIN STRAP. There is a mirror at the end of the boot
shelves to help you.
WESTERN SADDLE SET UP
On the saddle rack put
Western saddle - use same saddle each time you ride unless you outgrow it
Correct pad for the horse (according to horse information) from green rail
Thin blanket from yellow rail – any will do – keep long blanket folded in half
After you have stacked these things the items will be in order to go onto the horse's back.
On the wall hook put
Bridles are assigned to the horse – located on green horse shoe
Important on cold days - if sun is shining hang bridle outside in the sun. The bit may warm up. Check the temperature of
the bit with your bare hand and, if it is cold, warm it with the hair dryer in the tack room.
Reins located on black horse shoe
If indicated get
Other special equipment
On shelf under the saddle put
Grooming tote - put your brushes/curries into tote located under the wall pockets
Use your brushes/curries out of the tote (leave tote under the saddle)
Put them back when finished
If you use a stool, set it up before grooming your horse. Carry it around to the side you need to work on.
INFORMATION Using the stool - The height of the person determines the need to use a stool. There is one at each tack
up station and the horses have been taught to stand still for the stool. The rider needs to be sure to place the stool so it
is steady for climbing up and down. They will carry the saddle up and down it. They may also need it to put the halter or
bridle on the horse. IF YOU NEED IT, USE IT. Set it up before you groom, saddle or bridle.
To use the stool, set it up first. As you face the horse on its left side and you are holding the stool, set it down so the
left front stool foot is set by the horse’s front foot for placement that will put you in the correct position to put on the
GROOMING Before your ride you will groom your horse to remove any dirt and debris from the body where the tack will
go. Thoroughly clean saddle/blanket area, cinch area (right behind the front legs). Remember to groom both sides of the
horse. If the head is dirty, carefully brush off the dirt with a small, soft brush. Check the tail and remove any weeds that
may be caught. Stand at the side of the horse to pull weeds out of the tail; do not stand directly behind the horse.
Set up - Get the brushes indicated for the season - listed on the tip sheet. Include a rubber curry to get dirt off if
March to May - In addition to winter supplies, get metal curry or shedding blade. You can use the metal curry or shedding
blade any time if the horse has a lot of dirt on it.
Remember blankets and pads go on the horse’s shoulder. Working from the horse’s left side put the thin blanket on first.
The single blanket is square so it doesn't matter which way it sits on the back except dirty side goes against the horse's
back. The double fold blanket is kept folded. It is put on the horse with dirty side to the horse, fold to the front
(horse's head) and tails (on blanket) toward the horse's tail.
Pads for Youth and adult western saddles have been assigned to the horse according to the kind of back he/she has.
Backs that are really fleshed out do better with thinner pads while backs with defined back bone need more padding.
There may be wear markers on the pad (leather or vinyl patches along the side and on one end). The little one, in the
middle, goes toward the horse's ears and the larger ones sit one on each side of the horse. If there is no little marker to
indicate the front of the pad then see if there is a short and long space between the side markers and the edge of the
blanket. The short space will go toward the front of the horse.
Make sure there is about 1/2 inch of the thin blanket showing in front of the pad. Make sure there is a large wear marker
on each side of the horse.
Pads for kids little western saddles are assigned according to saddle size. The only time something will change is if the
child is riding a horse that needs the rubber pad. If you get the saddle from the barrels on the wall, it is a kids little
NOTE ON BLANKET/PAD If you get these too far back, lift them off the horse's back, then move them forward and
place them again on the horse. If you pull them forward, it is like running your hand the wrong way through your own hair,
extremely uncomfortable. It will leave the hair backwards under the blanket. Remember, you can pull blankets toward the
horse's tail without lifting them off the back because you are pulling the direction of the hair.
The saddle is the last item to go onto the horse's back. Prepare it before you pick it up to put on the horse. Follow
instructions below on preparing the saddle and putting it on.
From the saddle’s right side put the cinch up into the saddle seat.
Pull the stirrup up and hook it over the saddle horn. (make sure nothing is hanging down on this side)
Kids little western saddle – turn stirrup over so small part hooks onto the saddle horn.
• Pick up the saddle from its left side. Your left hand will be at the front (pommel/swells) and your right and will be
at the back/cantle.
• Lift the saddle and place it onto the horse's back.
• Try not to move the blanket/pad as you do this.
• Leave about an inch of pad showing in front of the saddle. (Do not put saddle on edge of pad)
• Check the horse's shoulder blade to be sure the saddle is sitting in the correct place. (Correct place is directly
BEHIND the shoulder blade)
After you are satisfied with the placement, go to the right side of the horse.
If the saddle sits on the shoulder, it can cause sores and it will interfere with the horse's ability to use his legs to the
fullest. On some horses, if the saddle is not set properly, the horse may buck after the rider gets on.
DO NOT LET THE CINCH AND STIRRUP DOWN WHILE YOU ARE STANDING ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE HORSE.
These things will bang the horse's side when they fall and the horse may jump to get away from the bump. If he/she
jumps away from the bump it will be into you.
IF YOU ARE USING A STOOL, TAKE IT TO THE HORSE'S RIGHT SIDE. Talk to the horse as you go around.
On the right side of the horse
Take the stirrup down without banging the horse.
Take down the cinch, without banging the horse. Do not let the metal cinch ring hit the horse's leg.
Straighten out the latigo and cinch so both hang straight.
Check the cinch to see if it will fit the horse. When it fits the small metal ring is in the dip on the horse’s body
To check the cinch fit, the small metal rings in the center of the cinch should line up with the dip you feel behind
the horse’s legs when you reach your hand to the horse's middle under the belly. If they don't, use the latigo to either
lengthen or shorten the cinch (bring the metal closer to your side or farther to the other side). When you are satisfied
with your adjustment put the tail of the latigo through the cinch ring, lock the cinch then go back to the horse's left side.
To lock the cinch, pull the leather as you have been shown so the hook will be tight against it. Make sure the tail
(pointy end) of the latigo is pointing toward the horse’s ears (front of the horse).
IF YOU ARE USING A STOOL, TAKE IT TO THE HORSE'S LEFT SIDE. Talk to the horse as you go around.
Special tack - pony cinch - If you need to use this, take off the cinch that came with the saddle, hang it on one of your
hooks and put the pony cinch on the latigo. Do this before you get the pad.
To change the cinch - Unhook the latigo; push the hook out of the way so it doesn't catch in another hole as you are
pulling the strap out. Pull the wrapped strap, (not the tail end of the latigo) to get this off. You may need to put the empty
cinch ring on your pinkie finger so it stays up out of the dirt but allows you to use two hands to accomplish this task.
When the cinch is loose, put the end of the latigo over the saddle seat so it doesn't get stepped on while you hang up the
cinch and get the smaller one. Put the empty cinch ring over your pinkie finger to keep it out of the dirt as you put this
cinch onto the latigo. Put the latigo tail through the ring coming toward you, the hook is on your side of the ring. Keep
wrapping the latigo until you think the cinch will fit your horse. Measure it and finish adjusting after putting the saddle on
To secure the cinch follow the steps:
Take the keeper off the latigo
Put the keeper on the saddle horn
Pull the latigo toward you (use the little tail)
Keep the latigo in your right hand
Turn to face the horse's back legs
With your left hand reach between the latigo and horse leg for the cinch
Pull the cinch up behind the front legs
Hold the cinch ring with your left hand - face the horse
With your right hand put the latigo tail into the cinch ring so the latigo points toward the ground
Pull the latigo through the ring; keep your hands on the latigo and let go of the cinch ring
Put the tail of the latigo into the ring on the saddle pointing the tail away from you and down
Pull the latigo down toward the cinch ring and put it through again pointing the latigo tail to you
At this point, it will depend on how long the latigo is whether or not we wrap it through the rings another time.
After enough wraps are taken, begin to snug the cinch up. Use small tugs not hard pulls. Hold the tail side and use
up and down pulls - this takes the slack out of the latigo. Check tightness frequently. Too tight is as bad as too loose.
During this process, check to see where the metal ring underneath is in relation to the dip. Sometimes it pulls off center
as you tighten. You can adjust this by tightening more on the right side if needed.
Check it periodically to see how tight it is getting. When it is tight enough to go to the arena put the latigo tail
into the stirrup.
INFORMATION How tight should it be? We want the saddle to stay in place when we walk the horse to the arena. The
cinch should feel snug to you. You may have a little difficulty getting your hand between the cinch and horse.
Remember to put your hand in from the side away from the horse's leg, side closest to the stirrup. Horse bodies are pear
shaped and if you check the cinch from the side near the leg, you can make the cinch too tight for the horse's comfort.
Checking it from the side closest to the stirrup will make it safe for the rider and comfortable for the horse.
I believe a comfortable horse will be more willing to work for us.
Special Tack - Running Martingale – used on Shag - If you need to use this it goes on now, before the bridle. Work from
the horse's left side. Hold it so the rings are pointed toward Shag’s head. The narrow long strap goes around the horse's
neck (bringing it up from underneath) with the strap coming over the neck and the buckle remaining on the horse's left
Put the strap through the buckle and pull up to the hole that has the wear (black) mark. Secure the buckle and tuck in the
end of the strap. At this time, the reins are handled just like any other. Make sure you have the ones with the rein stops
Special tack - side straps - If you need to use these, they go on now. You will need one for each side of the saddle. The
strap will go into the back ring/slit on the saddle. You put the strap in so the tail is pointing toward the horse, (the buckle
will be nearest to you and the strap against the horse) then pull it through until the buckle is close to the ring/slit.
Next, keeping the strap against the horse put the tail of the strap through the cinch ring. The tail will point to you as it
comes through. Make sure all this is against your horse, under your stirrup. (You can put the stirrup up over the saddle
horn to keep it out of the way while you are putting on the strap.) Be sure to put the stirrup down before going to the
horse's right side.
If you put one strap on always put on the second one. Put the tail of the straps through their buckles but don't tighten.
We use side straps on the horses that are round backed/mutton withered to help the saddle stay in place but keep the
BRIDLING THE HORSE - Always check the temperature of the bit BEFORE beginning the process. If it is too cold, warm
it with the hair dryer. On really cold days see if someone (adult - children's hands do not have enough heat to keep the
bit warm) will hold it with their bare hands while you prepare to put on the bridle. Work from the horse's left side.
Remove the Halter before putting on the bridle
Remove the lead line from the hitch rail or pick up from ground tie
Put lead line around the horse's neck, crisscross the end (make sure there is room between the
lead line and horse ears for your halter to fit on the neck)
Unbuckle the halter keeping the right hand on the strap and the left on the buckle
Stretch your arms to make room for the halter to slip down off the horse's face
Hold onto halter and bring it back onto the horse's neck
Bring your arms together and buckle the halter around the neck like a necklace - hook in any hole. The only time
you need to tuck in the tail of the strap is when the halter is on the horse's head.
Special tack - pony over check If you are riding a pony and need the over check, now is the time to put it on. See the
reference at the end of the bridling section.
To Put on the Bridle
Hold headstall in your right hand in the middle - if it has a throatlatch, keep both straps together. (There are times when
you need to pinch the headstall together to put it on a particular horse. Ask me if you are not sure and I can show you
how.) If the horse doesn’t need the pinch approach, don’t use it.
In cold weather, check the bit with your bare hand. If it is cold, warm it with hair dryer (do this before you remove the
halter). Adults can warm the bit with their hands.
To get the bridle ready to put on hold the headstall with your right hand.
Hold your left hand under bit as you have been shown, two fingers pinching the bit and thumb inside to open horse’
s mouth if needed. Little finger reaches to hold curb chain/strap out of horse’s mouth.
Put bridle over horse's face (at the mouth) and bring bit back under chin.
Position bit at mouth while keeping headstall straight up on the horse's face. Keep hands apart so that leather
from headstall does not fold.
If needed, put your thumb into corner of horse’s mouth (area with no teeth) so horse will open its mouth for the
Pull up with your right hand and support the bit with your left until it goes into the mouth
When the bit goes into the mouth keep your hand open and stop it at the mouth – take your left hand and slide it
with the curb chain into the chin groove on the face while pulling the headstall up with your right hand.
After the bit is seated in the mouth take both hands and put the headstall behind the ears.
At no time curl your fingers around the bit for any reason . This action of yours can get your fingers bitten. Always work
with a flat hand.
SPECIAL NOTE For the horse's comfort ALWAYS support the bit until it is sliding into the mouth. If we are not
considerate with the bit and allow it to bang on the horse's teeth, the horse will not want to have a bridle put on or taken
off. That is hard to deal with and can even be dangerous.
As the bit slides in to the mouth keep your right hand pulling up on the headstall as the left hand supports the bit as it
goes into the mouth.
Use your left hand to scoop the curb chain/strap into the chin groove.
Put your left hand onto the head stall
Take your right hand and put it behind the horse's left ear against the neck
Push the ear forward flat on the head
Pull the headstall over the ear
Slide your hands to the right
Repeat the process for the horse's right ear
NOTE one ear MUST be in front of the headstall. The second ear may be in front of headstall or in a loop or slit. Some
head stalls have:
• Browband - this will come across the horse's forehead and both ears will be in this area with headstall strap behind
both ears. Usually a headstall with a brow band will have a throat latch too. The throat latch is buckled under the horse’s
throat. Make sure you put the hook into the first hole you come to.
• One ear slit - The horse's right ear will go through the opening and the left ear will just have the strap behind it.
• One ear adjustable - This loop can go over either ear with the strap behind the other one.
• Strap only - In this case, the strap goes behind both ears and that is all there is.
NOTE Always check your bridle to make sure no straps are twisted and that it is sitting comfortably on the horse's head.
Putting on the reins
• You should have the reins around your neck having picked them up when you prepared the bridle.
• Stay on the horse’s left side to do this.
• Take reins off your neck.
• Put excess reins into the crook of your elbow, over your shoulder or hold in your hand. Keep the excess out of the
• Unsnap the snaps.
• Snap one snap onto the bit ring nearest you.
• Snap other snap onto the far bit ring.
• Lay reins across the rail.
Take the halter off the horse’s neck. First unbuckle the halter then pull the lead rope to you. You do not have to buckle
the halter since you will use it again. Hang it on your hook by a piece that won’t come apart. Put the lead rope over the
Special tack - pony over check - If you need to use this it goes on after the bridle. The over check has snaps and a long
line. Have the lines run up the center of the pony's face, between the ears and onto the neck. Lay the lines on the neck
while you put the bridle onto the head. After the bridle is on and adjusted, take the lines of the over check and wrap
them around the headstall one time. Keep the lines on the head stall in the middle between the pony's ears. Make sure the
over check on the face is snug and straight after you wrap. Take the lines and tie them to your saddle horn. You want the
line tight enough so the pony cannot drop its head to the ground but not so tight it cuts into him/her as you ride.
Special tack - whip - If you are using the western saddle put the loop of the whip over your saddle horn before leaving
If you are using the English saddle - place the whip under the saddle (between horse’s back and saddle) before leaving
Riding bareback it is necessary to carry the whip in your left hand with the excess rein. Carry the whip so it is straight up
and down with your body. This way, if the horse looks over, the whip will blend into your body and will not threaten
NOTE TO BAREBACK RIDERS All things are the same for you except you are not putting on the saddle or anything that
goes with it. If you need a whip, you will carry it with you so it is non-threatening.
NOTE TO ENGLISH RIDERS All things are the same for you except the information specific to the western saddle. The
only special equipment that applies is Shag’s martingale and a whip if indicated for the horse.
The saddle and pad stay together. Put them on the saddle rack.
When you pick up the saddle the stirrups will be in parked position. They remain there until you take them down to adjust
for your length. We make sure they are parked before moving the horse anywhere.
Pick out the girth located in the store room. There is a chart of girth sizes on the wall. Select the one for the
saddle (charts for kids and adults saddles – girth sizes different) and horse you are riding.
Put girth over the saddle seat and tuck ends into stirrups. It is ready to put on the horse.
To park stirrups pull the stirrup iron up to the top on the back leather. Both straps will be on top of the iron. Take both
of them and wrap them around the side of the iron that is closest to the tuck in tab on the fender. Wrap from top to
underside two or three times. Take the tail of the strap, put it through the loop the leather made from the top down (tail
pointing toward the ground) then tuck the tail into the tab on the fender. The stirrup is now parked and ready to move
the horse or be put away.
LEAVING THE BARN
One horse in barn - You may turn either direction or back your horse out.
NOTE - NEVER turn a horse's heels toward another horse. It is easier to prevent a kick then to control a kick. ALWAYS
turn the horse's head toward another horse. You can control a bite.
Two horses in the barn - Horse in tack room station, #1, can either back out or turn head toward second horse. Horse in
ground tie corner or storeroom station can only turn toward horse #1. If horse #2 leaves the barn first, then horse #1
can either turn around or back out.
Three horses in barn - Horse #1 at tack room station can only back out the door. This keeps any heels from presenting to
another horse. After horse #1 is out of the barn the horse in the ground tie corner can walk forward and out the door.
The horse in the store room station will have to make a left turn then walk out the door.
Outside the barn door - make sure you are on the horse's left side to lead it to the arena. Your right hand should be
holding the reins just under the bit and the rein slack should be in your left hand. Have your horse stopped for making
any changes to handling the reins.
Keep distance between horses - You want about 10 feet between you and the horse in front. This allows room if any
problems should occur – you stand a chance of getting out of the way. You are now ready to go to arena.
© Wendy Toombs 2013