Shopping for tack can be both fun and exhausting. It's always nice to walk into the show ring with a sleek new saddle and bridle, but the process of finding the right ones can be time-consuming. Here are some tips to help you choose the leather English tack for you and your horses.
1. Pay attention to the quality of the leather.
Not all leather goods are made equal, and this is as true of English tack as it is of anything else. Cheap leather may rub your horse's skin, break suddenly, or crack as it ages. Whether you're buying a saddle, a bridle, a martingale, or some other piece of equipment, here are a few ways you can tell if the leather is a good quality.
It smells like leather. Cheaper leather is often coated in wax, which will hide this smell.
The edges are raw, not painted. If the sides of the leather are painted, that may be to hide the fact that it was not tanned properly.
It's supple and bends easily in your hands.
2. Measure your horse before you go to the tack shop.
Do you need a cob-size bridle or a full-size bridle, or a 44" girth or a 48" girth? Measure your horse before you go, and compare those measurements to the tack you're thinking of buying. Do not just rely on size names. One brand's cob-size bridle may be bigger than another brand's cob-size bridle, and having to return something you've already tried on your horse can be tough.
3. Check the color names of any tack you're trying to match.
Most people do not want to show up to the show ring with a light-colored bridle and a dark saddle, or vice versa. If you are trying to match another piece of tack, write down the color name before you head to the tack store or, better yet, bring the tack you are trying to match with you. It's so easy to misremember how dark a bridle or saddle is and end up buying another piece that doesn't quite match.
4. Pick a brand, and stick with it.
Once you find a brand of leather tack that you love, stick with that brand. You will have an easier time finding other pieces that match because you can be more confident the shade is consistent throughout one brand.
If you follow the tips above, you will have an easier time finding leather English tack that you love and that fits your horses.