There are two basic types of equipment for recreational horse riding: Western and English. There are some others, but let’s focus on Western and English gear, as those are the most popular forms.
Equipment for the Horse
The horse will need a bridle with bit and reigns, as well as a saddle blanket and saddle. If there are a lot of flies, horses can also wear a fly mask to keep them protected. The types of bit differ, the owner of the horse will know what type of bits the horse has been trained on. The reigns for English riders are split, whereas the Western-type reigns consist of one piece. Does this sound confusing? Just imagine the Western reigns looped over the horse’s neck like a lasso, whereas the English reigns have one piece of leather on each side of the horse’s neck.
A Western saddle is bigger than an English saddle and has a pommel or horn in the front. The blanket or pad, that goes underneath the saddle, can pretty much be the same whether you ride English or Western. It is nice if they co-ordinate though in color and/or pattern with the rest of the gear, even the riders themselves.
The Western rider will need a boot with a heel, usually some type of cowboy boot. Jeans are popular, but pants and chaps can be worn also. A helmet is the most important piece of gear and mandatory for all types of riding.
English riders usually wear breeches that are enforced in the knee and thigh area and heeled riding boots that go up to the knee. The enforced breeches are important because due to the type of English saddle there can be chafing and irritation in the thigh area when riding without the proper pants.
Riders with long hair should also tie their hair back. Riding gloves are optional but recommended as it is easier to keep your grip on the reigns, especially in the summer when one tends to perspire.
Riding equipment does not have to be brand new, but it should be periodically inspected. For riders, this applies mostly to the helmet. If the helmet has been through a fall, inspect it closely to make sure there are no cracks. On growing children, you need to purchase helmets to grow with the child. The helmet must fit well, so it can protect properly.