You make your way to the tack shop. Your new horse is coming home this week. Excitement is bubbling through your body as you think of the moment your horse comes off the trailer. Before your horse gets home you want to make sure you have all the equipment and supplies you need.
The problem is, you are on a budget and only plan to spend money on the absolutely necessary items. As you walk through the entrance to the tack shop you are flooded with thoughts of :
Where do I start? What exactly should I get and not get? Am I going to miss something I might need?
There is so much stuff in the tack shop that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You might buy some things you thought you needed, but then realized you really just wasted your money.
I am going to help you make a plan for your shopping trip to the tack shop. I will be giving you a bare essential list of horse items you will want as a horse owner. You will have what you need and you won’t spend more money than you have to.
Things You Need For Your New Horse
There are some key factors for what will be on your list. Are you full boarding, rough or co-op boarding, or keeping your horse at home?
You will need the most items if you are keeping your horse at home, the least with full boarding, and somewhere in the middle with rough or co-op boarding.
The items I am listing in each of these categories are good for whichever way you are keeping your horse. I will have two sections below for the extras you will need to add to your list if you are doing partial board or keeping your horse at home.
Each list builds off one another. So if you are keeping your horse with rough boarding, you will want the overall needed items and the “rough board” items. If you are keeping your horse at home, you will want the overall items, rough board items and the “keeping your horse at home” items.
The categories on your list of horse supplies and equipment include:
- Horse Ware
- Tack and Equipment
- Horse Care
- Stable Supplies
I am just going to go over items for the horse, and not for the rider. I am assuming that if you are buying a horse, you have been riding for some time and already have riding clothes, helmet, boots etc.
Halter and Lead Rope
I am hoping this is self-explanatory. But just in case… you will be using a halter and lead rope set to:
- Bring your horse back and forth from the paddock.
- Tie up or cross tie your horse for grooming.
- Trailer your horse.
- Are doing ground training with your horse.
- Bring your horse for a walk.
- Hold your horse for the farrier or vet.
These are staple items. People even ride with their horses wearing a halter sometimes.
Turnout Blankets And Sheets
It depends on your horse if you need blankets and sheets. If your horse’s coat is clipped, they will need them.
If your horse has a high metabolism, is underweight, loses weight easily, or is a senior, they will benefit from blankets.
If your horse grows a warm fuzzy coat and is a good weight, they can go without a blanket. However, even if your horse generally doesn’t wear blankets, you should have a waterproof turnout sheet.
A turnout sheet can help protect your horse from cold winds and rain. You can tell a horse is cold if they are shivering, huddling next to other the horses or if the horse’s temp is under 99.6F.
Tack + Equipment
Bridle With Bit Or Bitless Bridle
You can choose to ride in a bridle with a bit or a bitless bridle. There are different kinds of bridles and many kinds of bits (check out our favorites here). There are also different kinds of bitless bridles you can choose from.
Some horses go better bitless, while others go better in a bitted bridle. Looking at bits, it is the same, some bits are more accepted by the horse than others.
Unfortunately, it can be a guessing game of what works best. It can be a good start to use what the horse is used to being worked in if he is comfortable and happy with the equipment.
You can always try something else and then sell what you decide not to use.
The most important thing about the saddle is that it fits both you and your horse. Saddles that don’t fit properly can cause many problems with your horse, including soreness, injuries and behavior problems.
Unless you are experienced and knowledgeable about saddle fitting, you will want the help of a trained saddle fitter to help you find a suitable saddle for you and your horse.
What you can do is get a few saddles on a trial basis. Be careful not to scratch them, especially since you don’t own them. Make sure they are your size.
Have the saddles checked by the saddle fitter. Then try out the ones that fit well and pick out which is the most comfortable.
You will want to find a pair that is the right length for your legs and match the color of your saddle.
You don’t need fancy stirrups. Plain fillis stirrups or safety stirrups work fine. Unless you want more flexible, shock-absorbing ones because of bad knees or ankles.
Saddle Pad or Saddle Blanket
There are many different colors, fabrics, and shapes. The more breathable the better.
Make sure you get the right saddle pad for the type of saddle you are buying. There are western saddle blankets, all-purpose saddle pads, jumper saddle pads, dressage saddle pads, and so on.
Girth or Cinch
Do you want your saddle to stay on your horse? Then don’t forget the girth (or cinch if you have a western saddle). Find out what size your horse is and get the right type of girth for the saddle you are using.
Dressage saddles have long billet straps and short girths. Close contact, jumping and all-purpose saddles tend to have shorter billets and long girths. Western saddles use a cinch that come in different styles. Find out what size your horse’s girth is from the sellers if you can.
Horse Care Supplies
The following are the absolute basic supplies needed for a grooming kit. I haven’t included a hard brush (a.k.a dandy brush) is because there are some horses that don’t even like the hard brush.
- Hoof Pick
- Curry Comb
- Soft Brush
- Grooming Tote, Bucket or Container For Grooming Supplies
I have groomed horses that were very sensitive and thin-skinned and they couldn’t handle the hard brush. They were groomed and cleaned up on a regular basis with these items.
The soft brush can go on your horse’s face as well as legs, where the hard brush cannot. But it’s up to you if you want to get a hard/dandy brush.
These are the basics of your bathing kit. You can be creative and use your curry comb or your hand as a sweat scraper or just buy a sweat scraper. But if you use your curry comb this way you will want to clean it first, especially after washing your horse, because it will most likely be pretty dirty.
- Wash Bucket or Container
Flies are pesky and drive the horses nuts. At the very least, you want to help your poor horse out with regularly stocked fly spray. It will usually need to be applied a couple of times a day.
Where I live in Massachusetts, the fly season usually is from May to October and can be pretty bad.
Stable Supplies: Rough or Co-op Board
Most full barn facilities provide all the stable supplies for you. The following is what you’ll need for a rough or co-op boarding situation.
You will need one to two water buckets to hang up in your horse’s stall. If your horse tends to drink a good amount, you’ll want an extra. Don’t forget to buy double end snaps to hang the buckets up with.
Feed Bucket or Tub
You will want a bucket to put your horse’s grain in. There are different kinds of buckets for grain that you can choose from. You can choose a rubber feed pan, a flat back bucket like your water bucket, a triangular corner feeder which needs 4 double-ended snaps, or a round corner feeder that needs 3 snaps (but depending on the brand, some come with the snaps attached).
If you are doing rough board, then you are probably mucking your horses’ stalls. Some barns may provide pitchforks, while others may require you to have your own.
It may be good to have your own anyway in case others are at the barn mucking their stalls.
First Aid Kit
You want a basic first aid kit in case your horse gets a cut or some type of wound.
Supplies for Keeping Horse At Home
So you decided you are going to keep your horse on your property. I am going to assume you have the land, paddocks set up with horse safe fencing, a barn with stalls or a run-in shed, a place for a manure pile, a place to store grain, hay, shavings and an area to ride around on.
You will also need the following supplies to be fully ready to keep your horse at home.
Muck Tub or Wheel Barrel
You will be wheeling your mucked out stall debris to your muck pile. Make sure you have a good place to put your muck pile not too close to the barn, as it heats up and could get hot enough to cause a barn fire.
Some rough board barns might require you have a muck tub or wheelbarrow, but generally not.
Salt Block Holder
Whether it is a holder on the ground or mounted on the stall wall, you’ll want your horse to have access to a salt or mineral block.
You need a broom to sweep the barn aisle, sweep back the front of your stall, and to de-cobweb around the barn, which is a fire hazard.
Water Tub For Paddock
Your horses will need water out in the paddocks. Most rough board barns provide these, but you might need one if they don’t.
Cross Ties or Single Tie
This is to tie your horse up when you are grooming and tacking your horse up. You will also need a tie ring screwed into the wall to attach the rope to.
This would be kept in your riding area or if you have an arena. It helps save your horse’s back from the unnecessary strain they would get from mounting regularly from the ground.
Large metal trash cans can work well for storing grain.
To scoop out and measure your horse’s grain. Some people just use a quart-sized coffee can which can work just as well as a feed scoop from the tack shop.
You want to dump, scrub, and refill your water buckets on a regular basis. You’ll need a scrub brush or can use a fairly clean hard brush.
How You Can Save Money On Horse Supplies And Equipment
There are actually several different ways you can save money while checking off the boxes on your horse equipment & supplies shopping list. These are places on and off the internet. Get ready to pull up your sleeves and do some deal-digging, horsey style.
Tack Shops Sales Online and In-Person
If you are lucky enough, there may be a tack shop having a good sale and be able to save a good chunk of money.
Be careful though, as I’ve noticed some tack shops make it look like a good deal when it is almost the same as regular price.
Clearance Section In Tack Shops
Often tack shops have an area where everything is on clearance. You may be able to find some gems and save some good money.
Horse Rescue and Adoption Centers
Search Google for your local rescues and reach out to see if they sell used donated horse equipment. I have saved a lot of money buying used bridles, halters, boots, blankets and sheets and even horse books from the MSPCA.
Just like there are horse auctions, there are also tack auctions. It may take some searching on the internet but I have seen online and in-person auctions, selling saddles, bridles and other horse equipment.
The only thing is if you buy a saddle, it may not fit your horse and you won’t be able to return it.
You can find used horse equipment people in your community are trying to sell. You will want to check whether the seller is willing to ship because some people just want to do pick up.
You can find used and new items for decent prices on eBay. However, if you are looking at a saddle find out if you are able to return the saddle if it doesn’t fit properly.
Walmart and Dollar Tree
There are some random items you can use as horsey items. I have seen a grooming tote, grooming-mitt, a car squeegee that could be used as a sweat scraper, buckets and more.
You just have to keep your eyes open and who knows what you might discover.
Buying A Used Saddle
This will save you money for sure. A $2000 saddle brand new could be $950 used. Your best bet is to find saddles that can be taken on trial or returned after purchase if the fit is not right.
You will want to know the tree size your horse needs and the seat size that you need. Have an idea of the brands of saddle you want. Find a saddle fitter that can make sure your horse is going to be comfortable.
Have Everything For Your New Horse?
Make sure if you are full boarding or rough boarding you find out what equipment and services the farm will provide.
Sometimes the full board barn provides all the stable supplies, including the water buckets, feed bucket, and salt block holder. Other full board barns you may require you to provide these items yourself.
The same goes with rough board. Make sure you find out what is provided to help you know what you need to get. To make life easier find this out before your horse comes home.
What are your budget horse keeping essentials?
Kacey Cleary is a lifetime equestrian and stay at home mom. She blogs, enjoys time with her lease horse, and does fill-in barn work at a couple of stables. The rest of her time is wrangling her high-energy toddler and husband. Her blog, Sparkles Rainbows and Unicorns, is about making life work as an equestrian and mom as well as starting your kids in horseback riding.