Tips for Correct Tack Fit

Improper tack fit could be the source of your horse-training problem.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

American Quarter Horse trainer and breeder Bill Myers has seen a lot of competition arenas through the years, hauling from his Myers Training Stables in St. Onge, South Dakota, which he owns and operates with his wife, Deb. They’ve trained and campaigned horses in several events, from cutting to racing to barrel racing. Their legendary stallion, Frenchmans Guy, has sired countless money earners in barrel-racing competition.

Bill and Deb have spent many years starting young stock and coaching riders. Many problems that Bill sees in barrel-racing performances often stem from two simple tack problems: curb strap fit and breast collar fit. You might want to take a closer look at your rig before your next go.

No. 1: Curb Strap Fit

People often have a curb strap too loose. The old “two-finger” rule – making the curb strap loose enough for two fingers to fit between it and the horse’s chin – can make a strap too loose.

A correct fitting for the strap is when the rein pulls on the bit, the strap doesn’t allow the bit to turn over too much, and it doesn’t cause a pinch in the horse’s skin between the corner of the mouth and the curb strap.

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If the curb strap is adjusted too long, then it will create a pinch in the skin at the corner of the horse’s mouth.

People understand easier when a curb strap is too tight. There is constant pressure on the chin before you pull on the reins, and you don’t want that.

But you do have to have the curb strap snug enough so that the bit stays in place and works properly, and so the strap isn’t pinching the horse’s skin.

No. 2: Breast Collar Fit

The breast collar needs to be tight enough that it keeps the saddle up, sitting on the withers where the saddle is designed to sit. A lot of people don’t have the breast collar snug enough; it shouldn’t hang below the point of a horse’s shoulder.

What usually happens is that people will saddle the horse and have the breast collar too loose. I don’t think they realize it, a lot of times, because it’ll look all right and the saddle will be in the right position when they first saddle the horse.

But as they ride, the saddle moves back, out of position. That tightens up the breast collar again, but the saddle is too far back, and the rider’s weight is too far back, more toward the horse’s kidneys.

When a horse is running and performing, your weight distribution has a lot to do with how he works and where he goes underneath you. There’s an area on the low part of the withers where the saddle is designed to sit. If your saddle sits too far back, it will put pressure on the back where it shouldn’t.

When the breast collar is fitted correctly, the saddle isn’t going to move out of position as you ride, even if you loosen the cinch.

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