Riding Gear

You have a horse and a brand new saddle, so you feel ready. Wait! Scan the list below to make sure you”re not leaving out any basic riding gear or apparel. Experts tell us that owners on a shoestring can get by with about $3,500 a year; serious participation and good equipment may cost up to $30,000!

A Horse

You might already own a horse, but you should be realistic about veterinarian bills for emergencies, illnesses, checkups, and routine care such as worming, immunization, dental care and shoeing. Many riding sports require an investment in good grooming care products.

If you don”t already own a horse, or you don”t have a barn or pasture that”s adequate, you could save a lot of money by leasing a horse. Don”t forget to ask whether the owner will allow you to enter the horse in competition and whether you”ll be allowed to transport the horse.

You probably won”t have to worry about flying your horse overseas to participate in the Olympics, but neither will you be trotting down a country road to the local fair. In any case, horse transportation is a considerable expense. You”ll need a large truck or a vehicle that”s up to the task of pulling a trailer.

Graphic example of saddle styles.Riding Gear: The Tack

Simple tack can cost as little as $500, but if you purchase silver and brass and a good variety of items, you can quickly spend $10,000 on tack.

Some competitions such as showing require particularly beautiful reins and bridles. They need not be new, but a good quality product that is carefully maintained and polished always shows well. Decorative items are optional.

Hunting and racing require saddles specifically designed for the sport. Many riders keep a variety of saddles for riding and competing.

Cleaning products should be included in your budget, as they will extend the life of your equipment, particularly leather goods.

Riding Apparel and Other Riding Gear

Almost all equestrian events have dress codes. Safety helmets or hats are almost always required. English riders like bowlers, top hats and hunt caps. Western riders wear felt hats in cool weather and straw hats in hot weather, although straw hats tend to fall off too easily.

The fine wool jackets and tailcoats available for English riding competitions are worth an investment as, with good care, they last for years. A transparent plastic raincoat is also a good idea. Western riders should follow protocol and wear long-sleeve shirts, but little else in terms of riding apparel is required.

Good boots are critical. Regular street shoes will not prevent your feet from sliding through stirrups, so a good solid heel is an important feature. Whether you wear knee-high English riding boots, short boots or western boots, keep them well polished and they will serve you for a long time. Most other items are optional, except in advanced competition:

  • Some English riders like to wear specialized riding trousers called jodhpurs.
  • Western riders like the look and protection of leather chaps, except when they get in the way.
  • Both types favor spurs, but make sure you follow competition rules for size and style, and never use spurs to brutalize a horse.
  • Seasoned riders in all sports invest in a good pair of gloves, usually leather.
  • Neckwear is not always required, but western riders like a colorful neckerchief to complete their outfits and some English riders compete in ties and other formal neckwear.

Training or Riding Lessons

Paying for lessons can be an unexpected strain on your budget, but you should avoid the mistake of learning a sport from a friend or relative. If you”re serious about competition, you”ll have to learn the correct procedures that help prevent injuries to you or your horse. Show jumping, for example, can be hazardous if not done correctly; you cannot prepare for jumping in competition by leaping over pasture fences.

Check for certification or licensure. If you”re not sure what to look for, contact the national organization that specializes in the particular sport you”ve chosen.


Your participation in equine events will require responsible ownership. Protect your investment in your horse, and look into ways to protect yourself against liability for injuries caused by your horse. To protect your investment in your horse, look into special insurance for surgery or, if your horse is particularly valuable, some life insurance.

Of course, the best way to prevent disasters is with caution. Be very choosy about letting friends ride your horse; you may be held responsible for falls and other injuries.

Insurance and information can be obtained from professional equestrian organizations.