Endurance Riding

Jan 17 2011

Endurance Tack

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Discover why getting the most suitable endurance tack is important for both you and your horse.

An endurance ride tests the stamina and condition of a horse and rider as a team. To receive a completion, the horse must finish the ride and be considered fit to continue by the ride veterinarian. There are several things involved with riding and competing in endurance and a win, or even a top 20 finish, involves more than just fitness and training.

An experienced endurance rider considers every little detail while readying her horse for an endurance ride, all the way down to endurance tack. She caters to her horse’s every need from the basics of nutrition to the challenges of understanding and managing metabolics. She strives to keep her horse comfortable over those many miles of trail, and will spend the extra time listening and learning from her horse during all of the training miles at home.

Choosing The Right Endurance Tack For Your Horse

Since the endurance horse will be covering many miles in one day, it is very important that endurance tack be well fitted and non-bulky. Loose fitting tack will move and possibly chafe the horse while he moves about over different terrain. Tack that is too tight can cause fluid restriction and possible swelling or hot spots. Tack should always be clean and free from grit and dirt.

The type of weather should be considered as well, since it is quite common to begin a ride early in the morning when temperatures are cooler and finish later in the day when the air is more humid and hot. A saddle pad that isn’t too thin or too thick and made of cotton or other type of woven material is suitable for endurance.

Thick felt or fleece pads can be very warm after a few miles, and can create quite a lather. It is a great idea to bring more than one saddle pad to a ride so that it can be changed out if it becomes soiled or excessively wet. Having more than one girth available can be beneficial as well, since some types can begin to collect sand or other irritants after the first few miles.

Synthetic Tack versus Leather Tack for the Endurance Horse

Synthetic tack has been available for several years now in all types of material to suit the needs of the discriminating endurance rider. It is easily cleaned, holds up very well, and resists stain and mildew unlike leather tack.There are several types available, with beta and biothane being the most common. Beta and biothane are often used to make bridles, cruppers, breastcollars and other strap goods.

Beta looks and feels like leather but is a bit more pliable. Biothane comes in a rainbow of colors, including types that glow-in-the-dark. Biothane is similar to a polyurethane coated nylon and is extremely durable. Both beta and biothane can be washed in soap and water or simply put in the top rack of the dishwasher for a touch up. Most reputable companies that manufacture biothane tack use UV resistant materials that last for years.

Although biothane type endurance tack is most common in endurance riding circles, leather tack still has a place of its own. Biothane and leather tack run neck and neck when compared to durability, but leather still takes a bit more maintenance to keep it strong and functional. Leather must be cleaned regularly so that sweat and salt don’t cause wear and tear over time. However, leather is still a favorite among many riders.

Basic Tack for the Endurance Horse

When choosing endurance tack, choose gear that isn’t too heavy, easily cleaned, and that won’t rub if wet or sweaty. The golden rule of endurance training is to train in the tack you will compete in and don’t make any changes on the day of the ride. All tack should be well broken in before ride day.

Too many new riders buy a new girth or crupper and try it out for the first time on a ride day which can cause problems, or maybe even result in a pull from the ride. All tack should be well worn including saddle pads, halter/bridles, and of course, saddles. Any back up tack (girths, bridles, etc.) should fit nicely and be broken in as well.

An endurance horse should be tacked up with the minimal amount of gear necessary to complete the ride. Selection and testing of endurance tack should be done at home during training rides or during the off season, and custom fitted ahead of time. Endurance riding is a partnership between horse and rider. A rider who makes sure her horse is comfortable and ready has already made it half way to having a successful ride season.

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