When you go trading or shopping for horse gear, try to buy the best that suits your needs and pocketbook. If you make your gear, make the best you are able---or go looking for a mentor to guide you.
Well-made leather, silver, bits, spurs, rawhide, blankets, etc. will give good service and last a long time if taken care of. In fact, some items such as saddles, bits and spurs, can actually go up in resale value. If made properly, they can aid in your horsemanship and the performance of your horse rather than detract from your experience and work. They are not, however, a substitute for consistent work and practice.
There is a large variation in the gear needed depending upon the western riding you do, the horse type you are riding and your personal style. This is just an overview.
- Essential Items
- Headstalls built for both snaffles (if used) and shanked bits that fit, are in good condition and adjustable
Hackamore/bosal---to start, usually 5/8ths inch (but can be 3/4 inch), then 1/2 inch and 3/8 inch. A 3/8ths bosalita for the finished horse (can be suspended by a latigo hanger under the headstall or via for an advanced horse a single string attached to the forelock)
- Mecates---a series, each the same size of, or within a 1/8 inch under the diameter, of the bosal bars in use, in cold weather or humid climates, a half worn out 8 strand or just a simple 6 strand is useful part of the year
- Get down rope---usually 12-16 foot and 1/4 to 3/8ths inch diameter of mane, angora or poly with a popper on one end and a small tassel on the other. It can be tied around the horse's neck in a bowline (a knot that will not pull down tight) &/or dropped down nearer the chest and then brought up when needed for leading. These are never for tying a horse, but for leading---especially a horse in the bridle. Ernie Morris says, "Don't leave home without one."
- A selection of CA shanked bits with a variety of mouthpiece options
- A variety of flexible curb straps (no chains)
- A cinch made of natural materials that allows air circulation and is the correct length
- An extra latigo or two or half breed billets
- Appropriate, clean pads and blankets that allow the air to circulate and the horse's back to "breathe"
- A good rope halter with a 12-16 foot lead preferably without metal hardware
- A lass rope or reata
- A good, sharp knife, a multi-purpose tool
- A set of brushes, combs, hoof pick and other grooming essentials
- A first aid/emergency kit for horse and rider including a roll of duct tape, matches, a piece of leather boot lace or string for repairs
- A filled water bottle
- A cantle pack to carry items without the issue of saddle bags
- A good mascada/scarf preferably in silk which can be employed for a variety of uses
- An appropriate hat or helmet
- Sturdy leather boots with heels
- Optional Items
- A whistle on a lanyard
- Cell phone in good reception area