Buying the horse is only the beginning…
One of the most fun parts of horse ownership is all of the awesome new things you get to buy! No more endlessly pinning polo wraps and saddle pads on Pinterest – now you can BUY them. Almost every horse owner I know (myself included) seems to have an addiction to purchasing tack and other equine supplies. After all, you need a halter for every occasion and a whole week’s worth of saddle pads…right?
The wonderful joy of tack shopping comes at a pretty steep price, of course. While one item may not be budget-breaking, when you need to start from nothing you could easily find yourself in over your head. You may be panicking and asking how much horse tack costs right about now. Are you better off looking for the cheapest thing or will that come back to bite you in the butt later?
Need-to-Have Horse Tack
- Saddle $100-$7,000+
- Saddle Pad/Blanket $20-$400+
- Girth/Cinch $20-$400+
- Stirrups $20-$600+
- Bridle/Headstall $40-$500+
- Bit $20-$350+
- Reins $8-$250+
- Halter $15-$500+
- Lead Rope $7-$40+
Learn more about what kind of apparel and equipment you need for yourself.
How Much Does a Saddle Cost?
The cost of a saddle varies quite a lot, depending on the maker, quality/ materials, if it’s used, if it is custom made, and what features it has. If you’re on a tight budget, you can probably go on social media or other online marketplaces and find a used saddle for pretty cheap. I’ve seen okay quality saddles sell for $50, which can look like a steal after seeing all those fancy, expensive saddles at the tack shop.
If it seems too good to be true, however, it probably is.
What should you look out for when buying a secondhand saddle, you ask? To begin with, you have no idea what the saddle has actually been through. It may have been dropped, trampled on, or just flat out neglected. It also may be broken in a bit wonky, depending on the previous horse and rider. Look out for signs of damage, excessive dirtiness, an asymmetrical shape, or other signs that it has been manipulated.
A cheap saddle can end up costing a lot if you need to do a lot of repairs.
It may need reflocked, the tree may be damaged, or it may need extensive leather work to be functional. If the saddle was broken in or was altered inappropriately, it may end up being painful to the horse and cost you a lot more than just money in the end! Make sure you go over it with a fine-tooth comb before forking over your hard-earned cash. If the saddle needs TOO much work, you’re probably better off just buying a new one for more up-front cost.
If you’re buying a saddle, in general, you want to be sure it fits both you and your horse. If this is your first time making such an important purchase, I can’t recommend a professional saddle fitter enough! Ask around to get recommendations so you don’t get scammed by someone just trying to sell you something or someone who is inexperienced.
There are horses, like my round barreled, short-coupled mare, which are a bit tricky to fit, so you might save money by hiring a professional with many options to try out. In the end, you want both parties to be comfortable so the horse doesn’t start to dread riding time and you can enjoy yourself without chafing and bruises.
- Be realistic about your budget, but don’t skimp on saddle quality by buying the cheapest thing out there
- Find a saddle fitter if you’re not experienced or want to streamline the process
- Be very careful if buying a used or discount-quality saddle, because they can end up being uncomfortable for both horse and rider
How Much Does a Saddle Pad or Saddle Blanket Cost?
I know I just said not to skimp on a saddle, which is true, but also don’t skimp on a saddle pad or blanket. These are in contact your beloved pony’s back the whole time you ride and absolutely have to be comfortable.
If you ride English, consider using a half pad in addition to your normal saddle pad to give your horse some extra cushion or protection.
If you’re a less experienced rider a half pad could provide the shock absorbing power your horse’s back needs.
Western saddle pads are generally used alone, but there are some on the market that allow shims to help with saddle fit or to provide relief for those horses with swaybacks or prominent withers. Some people may put a thin blanket underneath to help keep the expensive one clean.
- Consider a half pad if you ride English
- Buy the correct pad for the type of saddle you have
- Make sure it doesn’t alter your saddle fit
How Much Does a Girth or Cinch Cost?
Girths and cinches are another super important tack item that may or may not cost you a lot of money. One of the best girths I bought was an inexpensive, elastic, fleece-lined one for about $20. So, what might cause you to need a more expensive girth? If your horse is sensitive or particular about the material, you may need to hunt for something different.
You also may need something that distributes pressure more evenly, if your horse has a delicate girth area.
Some saddles need to be set back a bit to fit the horse properly and to avoid interfering with the shoulder.
If your horse is constantly hitting their shoulder blade on the saddle, they may end up painful and resistant. In this case, an anatomical girth or cinch is something you may need to budget for. Some of those fancier girths and cinches are designed for particular sports, so you likely won’t need to look at those (yet).
- Does your horse need a certain material?
- Are they sensitive to girth pressure?
- Do they need a contoured girth to provide shoulder relief?
How Much Do Stirrups Cost?
If you’re a beginner, you can likely get by using inexpensive stirrups, but safety stirrups are always a great idea. Yes, even for you adults. Consider purchasing one of the versions of safety stirrups, which are designed to release your foot so you don’t get caught up and dragged after a fall.
Western safety stirrups may run you a little more, but if you ride by yourself or are still fairly new at riding, they can be a lifesaver.
Of course, you can always sit back and ogle all those fancy, expensive stirrups. Some are made of amazingly light materials, have wider treads, or are jointed to help dampen the impact from all that riding to protect your knees and ankles. Necessary? Probably not. Fun if you want to splurge? Most definitely.
Another thing you might forget to consider are stirrup leathers. If you ride Western you don’t really need to worry about this, unless you want different fenders.
English saddles usually don’t come with the leathers and stirrups, so add on another $20-$100+ for those.
- Do you ride by yourself or are you still somewhat inexperienced?
- Do you have knee or ankle problems?
- Do you need extra support and grip to keep your stirrups?
How Much Does a Bridle or Headstall Cost?
It can be hard to pick your first bridle, but you don’t always need to spend a fortune to find something great. The most important part of any bridle or headstall is fit, so measuring your horse with a cloth measuring tape is where you should start. Once you have an idea of what size you’re looking for, you can then look for something that’s comfortable.
Cheap leather can often be very stiff and will require a lot of conditioning and breaking in to prevent rubbing and chafing.
Regardless, there are inexpensive options on the market that actually are nice and soft straight off the rack. So, you should either go to a tack shop and start touching, or ask other horse people for recommendations.
Other than correct sizing and comfort you should find something that matches the rest of your tack, although it’s not truly necessary to be able to ride. You may also decide to leave the whole “leather” thing behind and buy a synthetic bridle or headstall. These can be fantastic options if you live in a hot, wet environment, don’t have a climate-controlled tack room, and don’t want to battle with moldy leather.
If you plan to hit the trails and know you’ll be getting a bit damp, you might look for nylon or BioThane options. Those are the same as leather when it comes to making your choice, though. They need to fit AND they need to be soft and comfortable.
- Do you know your horse’s size? If not you had better measure.
- Make sure you buy something with enough quality to be soft and prevent chafing.
- Match your current tack or buy something that can go with anything.
How Much Does a Horse Bit Cost?
If you know a lot of horse people, you’ll probably notice that they have a ridiculous number of bits hidden away in their tack room. Why? Bits are one of those things that are a little tricky to buy, but have so many variations that you get tempted into trying out different designs. You should have an idea of what your horse prefers and what size they wear if they’ve already been trained.
Usually, the previous owner will let you know what they normally used and you can buy the same thing.
If you don’t know your horse’s bit size, there is a handy tool called a bit sizer you can buy for about $7. Improperly sized bits can pinch your horse’s mouth or hit their teeth and make for an overall unpleasant experience, so make sure you get it right!
You may also be expected to use (or not use) certain bits in certain disciplines.
You’ll probably see a lot more curb bits in the Western world, while those focusing on English are likelier to use a snaffle bit. Like many other aspects of horse ownership for newbies, you should have a trusted instructor on hand to help you make some of these decisions.
- If you don’t know your horse’s size MEASURE
- Pick what they are most comfortable with
- If you feel that you need a bit to control your horse, consider hiring a coach or instructor to work through your problems
How Much Do Horse Reins Cost?
Some of the less expensive bridles and headstalls out there may come with reins, but oftentimes they don’t. You can’t get much riding done without reins, unless you’re one of those special people that can. (Of course if you’re one of those people, you probably don’t need to be reading this!)
The type of reins you buy are based on the type of riding you do.
You may grab some of the standard flat laced reins if you’re riding English, or you might need barrel reins for barrel racing or split reins for some of the Western disciplines. What you can expect to pay is based on the material, quality, and bonus features. High-quality, luxurious leather reins can cost quite a bit, but you may be able to get by perfectly fine with some braided nylon ones.
- What reins are you expected to use in your discipline?
- What’s your budget?
- Do you need a special length?
How Much Does a Horse Halter Cost?
Horse halters can run you anywhere from $15 to several hundred dollars (for a fancy show halter). You probably only need to spend about $20 to grab a decent nylon or rope halter, though.
Expensive halters are generally reserved for showing in hand, but some of the nicer luxury halters can get pretty pricey.
- What size do you need?
- Do you need a breakaway halter?
How Much Does a Horse Lead Rope Cost?
are pretty cheap and run from about $7 to $40+ for special materials or features. The standard new horse owner only needs the typical cotton lead rope with a snap.
Halters and lead ropes from the same company are usually offered in matching colors, so you can coordinate everything.
- What type of material do you prefer?
- Do you want it to match your halter?
- What kind of snap do you prefer?
- What length do you want?
Nice-to-Have Horse Tack
How Much Do Horse Boots Cost?
There are quite a few different types of horse boots out there and you should understand what they’re for before you go out and buy them. There are hoof boots that horses wear like a shoe to protect their feet if they’re barefoot, or there are boots to prevent injury from back hooves overreaching and hitting the front, or there are boots to support and protect your horse’s legs and tendons.
Reining riders are likely to buy special boots to protect their horse’s legs from abrasions and strain while sliding. There are even boots out there to protect your horse’s legs while they’re riding in the trailer.
Boots can run you anywhere from under $20 for some bell boots to over $300 for a pair of sport boots.
- Do you do hard enough work to need something like sport boots?
- Does your horse overreach or need extra protection due to the way they move?
- What size boots does your horse wear?
How Much Do Horse Polo Wraps Cost?
are similar to sport boots in how they protect their skin from dirt or scrapes and can provide a little extra support. They’re usually a lot cheaper, though, and generally run $15 to $100.
The trick with polo wraps is learning how to actually put them on your horse!
The easiest way is to have an experienced friend or instructor show you and then watch you do it yourself. If they’re too tight they can cut off circulation and if they’re too loose they can slide down, so make sure to practice and check your work.
- Does your horse really need the extra support and protection?
- Do you know how to apply them, or do you have someone who can teach you?
- Most importantly: what color do you want?
How Much Does a Breast Collar or Martingale Cost?
English: $20-$250+Western: $20-$300+
Breast collars (for you Western people) or breastplates (for you English people) can be a great addition to your tack collection, if you need it. Those in the English realm may also see martingales – either running or standing. Western versions often go by the name tiedown. Martingales and tiedowns are used to control how the horse carries their head and can attach in different ways.
A tiedown may connect from the cinch to the noseband and is used for a horse to brace against while doing athletic maneuvers, such as barrel racing. They are not intended to keep your horse’s head down, although you will probably see them used that way.
A martingale is generally used to keep a horse’s head from coming up to high and smacking the rider in the face. Standing martingales are more restrictive than running martingales and can be riskier to use. No tiedown or martingale should ever be used if there is a chance that your horse will swim, end up in deep water, or risks falling.
Breastplates or breast collars are used to prevent the saddle from slipping. Some English breastplates have optional martingale attachments as well. Both breastplates and breast collars can be useful if your horse is making sudden turns or doing a lot of work at speed, because they help to keep the saddle in place.
- Do you actually need a breastplate/ breastcollar or tiedown/martingale?
- Are you able to fit and use one properly? If not, you should work with someone experienced.
- What material do you prefer, and do you need it to match your tack?
How to buy horse tack on a budget
If you’re on a tight budget, but need to buy tack for your horse, you can try looking for secondhand options either online, at a tack shop, or at a local tack sale. You can also wait for tack shops to have sales, if there’s something you want that’s a bit out of your budget.
You should also resist the overwhelming desire to buy the fanciest, most expensive options on the market.
It’s really hard, I know. Sometimes the best saddle for your horse is actually very reasonably priced. Save the super costly items for when you’ve narrowed in on your niche and are actually competing.
You should work with an instructor or a trusted friend if you’re not very experienced with horses and horse tack. There are many companies out there that will try to convince you that you need to buy a lot of gear, but, honestly, you don’t need very much to ride and enjoy your horse.
It’s so much fun to buy tack for your horse, whether it’s your first or your tenth (bit or horse). There are so many colors and patterns of saddle pads, so many comfy girth or cinch materials, and thousands of different bits to choose from.
It can be easy to spend a lot, but luckily, it’s not too difficult to find everything you need on a budget. Do your homework, ask for help, and you’ll be riding in style before you know it (with some cash leftover).
P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:
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- Beginner’s Guide to Horse Hay Nets & Bags
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- Estimate Your Average Horse Cost (State by State)