Equipment Basics

So you’ve started riding? Someone bought you or a family member riding lessons for your birthday or Christmas. Or you finally gave into that childhood dream of riding horses. You get to your first lesson and you realize you’re not sure what a halter is or a curry comb or a bridle? Fear not! Here at Short Manes we’ll take you through the equipment basics.

The Halter:

  • The Halter is a piece of equipment that goes around the horses head. It is typically made of nylon or leather and does not have a bit attached to it (nothing goes in the horse’s mouth). The halter is either attached to a lead rope or has one built into it. (For more information see Types of Rope Halters)

Grooming Materials:

  • There are multiple brushes that we use on our horses. There’s a soft brush, a stiff brush, a curry comb, a hoof pick, and a few others that are useful, but not part of the core kit.
    • Hoof Pick: You should always start with the hoof pick and picking out your horse’s hooves. Rocks and other debris can get stuck in a horse’s hoof because of the way it’s designed. For this reason you should start the grooming process with the horse’s hooves. Rock’s can leave bruises if they are stuck in the frog of the hoof for too long.
    • Curry Comb: Next to the hoof pick the curry comb is one of the most important tools in your grooming arsenal. The curry comb is used both before and after riding to break up and loosen dirt, sweat, and other debris on the horse’s coat. If the horse is covered in dried mud the curry comb will break the dirt up enough that it can be brushed off, and will also ensure that the dirt is broken up all the way down to the horse’s skin. If your horse is sweaty after work the curry comb can be used to break up the moisture and the salts in your horse’s hair allowing the hair to dry faster. It is the only grooming tool that is supposed to go against the direction of the horse’s hair.
    • Stiff/Hard Brush: This brush is as its name suggest: very stiff. It is used to brush away dirt that is close to the horse’s skin. This brush should be used before the soft brush, as it helps brings dirt to the surface. If you only have time to use one brush before saddling the horse I recommend the stiff brush. It will make sure there’s nothing hiding against the horse’s skin that could irritate their skin under the saddle.
    • Soft Brush: The bristles of this brush are much softer then the stiff brush and the brush itself is used to clear away dirt and dust that has settled on the surface of the horse’s hair.


    • Saddle Pads: There are a variety of saddle pads that can be used under a saddle. This really depends on the horse and the saddle used. You’re trainer will provide the correct ones for the horse you are using.
    • Saddle: This is the thing that goes on the horse’s back that you sit on. Short Manes is dedicated to English riding and in this discipline saddles are much smaller and lighter than Western ones, but come in a variety of types. Most likely if you are learning English you will be in an all purpose or jumping saddle.
    • Girth: This is the piece of equipment that keeps the saddle on your horse. It’s a long piece of leather that attach on either side of the horse’s stomach to the saddle. (Leather used to be the most common. Now there are neoprene and fuzzy girths).


  • This is the piece that goes over the horse’s head. It consists of: two cheek pieces, a nose band, the throat latch, a brow band, the bit, and reins. The three pieces you deal with on a regular basis are the bit, throat latch, and nose band.
    • The bit: is the metal piece that goes in the horse’s mouth and attaches both to the main part of the bridle, the headstall, and to the reins. There are a lot of different types of bit and the best one for your horse will be provided by your trainer.
    • The throat latch: this piece is a thin and long piece of leather that hangs on the right side of the halter and loops up and attaches on the left side of the horse’s throat. There should be about three fingers width between the horse’s throat and the leather piece.
    • The nose band: this piece attaches a few inches above the horse’s nostrils. English bridles have nose bands, though it is possible to remove it and ride without it. It is much tighter than the throat latch; you should only be able to fit about a finger between the leather and the horse’s skin.

I hope this brief discussion of equipment basics gives you a better idea of what your trainer is talking about. Thanks for stopping by!