angle-left Preferred Tack for Speed-Event Horses

Preferred Tack for Speed-Event Horses

From bits to saddles to spurs, one horseman shares must-have tack for barrel racing and pole bending horses.

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Having the correct tack and equipment is a fundamental of riding barrel racing, pole bending or stake racing horses. Here, AQHA Professional Horseman Doug Leasor of Kentuck shares his preferences on tack for speed-event horses, from bits and bats to saddles and spurs.  

  • Bits: Start with an O-ring snaffle bit with a curb strap. Doug doesn’t use solid mouthpieces when starting speed-event horses. With a broken or jointed mouthpiece, you can control either side of the horse’s face, and you can lift each side separately.
  • Tie-Downs: “A tie-down is a good thing if it’s used right,” Doug says. “My theory is that a tie-down is something to help a horse brace itself to stop, not keep its head down.” 
  • Splint Boots: “If I’m going to run them, I will put (protective boots) on,” he says. “A football player doesn’t go out on the field without his helmet. If I’m just legging them up, such as trotting or loping circles, I won’t put (protective boots) on.”
  • Saddles: “... I use a saddle with a solid tree that will not move,” Doug says. “Buy the best quality equipment you can afford. It will last longer.”
  • Spurs: “I just use barrel-racing spurs,” he says. “I don’t use them when I run, just when I train. I ride a lot with my legs, and this is just a little more push than your heel.”
  • Leather Bat: “I have a leather bat, and I keep it strapped to my arm,” he says. “I don’t even have to pick it up, because it’s attached to my arm.”

“Some horses you can bat, and it slows them down,” Doug says. “It depends on the horse. And some horses don’t need the bat at all, because they give you all they’ve got. Generally, I’ve found that mares give you all they’ve got from the time you ask them until you pull back. Geldings are a little different. Ask them, and they will give you exactly what you ask them for and no more.”

Choosing the Right Bit

How to choose the right bit for your horse? AQHA world champion Doug Milholland explains some popular bits and the correct way to use them.