The cost of horse tack can vary significantly based on the quality, materials used, and whether the tack is new. Specialty tack and equipment that’s designed for maximum quality or competition will cost substantially more than a basic set of functional tack for everyday use.
In general, a basic set of tack consisting of a saddle, bridle, and associated accessories will cost around $450 on the very low end. A reasonable budget that’s closer to the average is $1,000–$2,000.
The expenses of horse ownership can rapidly add up over time, so not all horse owners have the same budget when it comes to buying bridles, saddles, reins, and other related items. More expensive items aren’t always better, so it’s up to you to weigh the costs involved with purchasing or upgrading tack.
While shopping, key considerations should include your personal needs, how you ride, whether you’re competing in any specific disciplines and your horse’s comfort. You should also think about which items you absolutely need to buy.
For example, some horses may need horse boots to protect their legs while riding. Others may need shorter or longer saddles, requiring you to own different saddles for your horses.
Setting A Budget
When establishing how much you want to spend on a new saddle, bridle, or other items, it’s important to consider your overall budget for riding and your horse’s care. If you’re just taking lessons or don’t otherwise own a horse, you won’t have to worry about as many expenses.
Horse owners should take into account the cost of hay, boarding, farrier visits, vet bills, hoof care, and other ancillary costs. If you also own a farm, you may need to review the costs of feeding multiple horses, tending to pasture areas, and stall maintenance.
Another factor is the overall market in your area. If equestrian activities are popular in your part of the country, you’re more likely to find used equipment at a fair price due to local supply. This can reduce your costs for bridles, saddles, reins, and other tack compared to areas that lack a notable equine population.
You should also consider your needs for each horse and all your horses in general. If you have multiple horses that need tack, a farrier visit, or boarding, then you’re likely to manage your expenses differently than if you only have to care for one horse or pony.
Furthermore, some expenses change over time. You can’t always expect to pay the same prices for materials over time, so it’s important to keep an eye on current costs to know how much to save.
If your last saddle was purchased over 10 years ago, then a similar model is unlikely to cost the same. It isn’t like watching prices for feeding your horses or paying for hay delivery. Those are routine items that you’re more likely to monitor on a regular basis.
Don’t let the expense of new tack sneak up on you. Set a budget and save as soon as you decide that new items might be necessary. Do the research early to see what current prices are before you have to rush out and buy something regardless of cost.
The materials used to make horse tack will greatly influence its value and cost. The prices for individual items go up based on the cost of the materials and how difficult they are to work with.
Leather is the most popular material, but the cost of leather isn’t always justifiable. A new rider or someone who needs tack for a limited purpose like riding a few weekends a year doesn’t necessarily need the highest-quality items.
Synthetic materials command a much lower price and make up an integral part of the market. The tradeoff for the reduced cost is often lower durability and quality.
Low-quality leather or synthetic material is more likely to be stiff and potentially cause chafing or irritation to your horse. Properly breaking in your tack will help prevent saddle sores and poor fit.
The main benefit of synthetic materials is their lower cost. Otherwise, leather remains the standard for most serious Western and English riders.
Saddle Pads, Blankets, And Saddles
Of all the accessories needed to ride a horse, a saddle pad or blanket is among the cheapest. A basic saddle pad or blanket can cost as little as $25.
A leather saddle will cost around $500–$2,000 new, although quality will be low at the $500 price point. Used models will be cheaper, and many are available in the $100–$1,200 range.
English saddles tend to be more expensive, while Western saddles hold their value for longer, often due to their increased durability and life. That’s why, when purchasing a saddle, you should consider the expected functional life of your saddle and how long you will personally use it.
If you’re an English rider who only needs a Western horse saddle for the trail rides every few months, your budget for a Western saddle is likely to be lower than someone who works on a ranch for a living.
You should also take into account the cost to ship a saddle if you’re purchasing through a company or an online vendor. Because of the weight, shipping costs can exceed $100 for a single item. This can be a surprise expense if you’re not careful.
Consulting a saddle fitter will add an additional cost to purchasing a horse saddle. A basic appointment that involves tracing a horse’s dimensions and identifying the ideal saddle fit will cost around $100 and up.
Although most horses can wear a standard saddle without issue, some horses require additional care and consideration because of their body type or health. It’s especially important to check saddle fit for a new horse or young horses who are still growing and changing.
Saddles that fit well for other horses aren’t guaranteed to have the right fit. Compared to spending money on a vet to treat saddle sores or other injuries, the extra cost of paying for a saddle fitter will seem like money well spent.
In some situations, it makes sense to hire a saddle fitter while considering the purchase of a new or custom saddle. A saddle fitter measures the horse’s body and dimensions and makes recommendations about which types of saddles to consider.
Halters And Bridles
A halter is one of the cheapest pieces of tack. Many halters are made from synthetic materials like nylon, but it’s not uncommon to have a halter made of rope.
These can cost as little as $15. A lead rope needs to be purchased separately but should also be quite cheap compared to other riding essentials. In fact, it’s simple to make a lead rope at home by securing a length of rope to a snap clip.
Bridles, on the other hand, are usually at least $50 without reins and a bit or $100 for a complete setup. They can range all the way up to $500 for bridles of the highest quality, but that is beyond what the average rider will need for trail riding, jumping, or ranch work.
A Western horse bridle usually costs slightly more than English bridles. The cost of a horse bridle will also be influenced by the design.
For example, some bridles have additional parts like a flash, which is a smaller strap that connects to the nose strap of the bridle and runs underneath the horse’s head to secure at the chin. A flash is designed to help keep the bit in place in the horse’s mouth without allowing the horse to move its tongue over it or move their jaw to manipulate the bit.
Accessories And Optional Items
There are also optional items and accessories that you may need for your horse or pony. These are less common in a basic set of tack but may be necessary to meet your particular needs.
Boots and wraps are designed to protect horses’ legs. They’re sometimes called fetlock or ankle boots. They cover the inside of your horse’s leg to add protection in case the hock on the opposite side hits against your horse’s leg.
Fetlock boots can cost as little as $35 per pair. Some come with a soft inner lining for comfort. They’re usually available in a variety of colors as well.
Breast collars and cruppers are important in some cases to keep your saddle in place. Breast collars attach to the front of the saddle, while cruppers run underneath the horse’s tail.
A breast collar or crupper costs approximately $50 on the lower end of the spectrum. They can be used on both Western and English saddles.
Tooling And Designs
The cost of tack isn’t just for the equipment itself. Many riders also enjoy paying for additional decorative details such as leather tooling and silver accents.
Custom work will cost even more than ordinary tooling. These designs may appear on the sides of saddles, stirrup leathers, or flaps.
Tooling is essentially engraving a pattern onto the leather using special tools like awls and groovers. Many saddlemakers perform this type of work to add a decorative flair to tack. This adds additional costs to purchasing a saddle, and the amount can add up quickly to outfit multiple horses with tooled-leather gear.
In general, Western riders are more likely to pay for these services since the Western discipline is more accepting of unique designs, tooling, costumes, and bright colors. English riding tends to be more traditional in style.
Some riders have special competition saddles that they reserve for shows. This is particularly true for extremely expensive tack at the highest levels of competition.
It can be important to practice with the tack you intend to use in shows, but many riders also need to balance that against the cost of replacing equipment once it wears out. A top-of-the-line saddle with bridle, bit and reins can easily cost close to $10,000.
This expense is compounded for riders who need multiple types of saddles. For instance, a jumping saddle that allows you to lean forward isn’t necessarily going to provide the appropriate riding position for dressage, where control of your horse is key.
Therefore, people who compete in multiple events may need multiple horse saddles, bridles, and other specialty items.
Used equipment can be purchased for much less than a new tack, making this an easy way to reduce the costs of horse ownership for horse riders who don’t need new equipment. Used tack can be bought from wholesalers, friends, or another horse owner.
If you’re familiar with a local shop or you know people from boarding your horses together, don’t hesitate to ask for advice. You never know when someone will see the perfect used bridle or saddle in your price range.
You might also find used items by talking to friends who ride in similar events. For instance, if you’re looking for a used dressage saddle, you may know another dressage rider who recently upgraded.
A used horse saddle can be as cheap as $200 at a local auction or over $1,000 for a high-quality model. A Western saddle and bridle is more likely to hold its value over time than English ones, but gear from both disciplines can fetch fair prices on the used market.
When buying a used bridle or saddle, the most important thing is to ensure that it is in good repair. If you intend to repair a bridle or saddle, look up an estimate of those costs before committing to the purchase to make sure you’re remaining within your budget.
The cost of a bridle, saddle, and other accessories for horse riding will depend on your riding needs and how invested you are in horse ownership. A professional riding instructor or ranch owner is likely to pay more for quality equipment than a new rider who isn’t sure whether they’ll continue with their hobby over time.
A basic set of tack can cost as low as $450 for synthetic, low-quality materials. A more reasonable budget is $1,000–$2,000 to purchase the basics needed for everyday riding.
The costs of horse ownership can add up, so the cost of tack is only one part of the equation.
If you know that your horse requires expensive hoof care, then you may not want to reduce your budget for hoof care just because you need a new bridle. You also need to consider other costs related to riding, such as buying new riding boots, paying a farrier, or buying hay.
In many cases, settling on a budget and reasonable costs for equipment is a matter of balancing money between competing priorities. Riders who want exceptional comfort at any cost can afford to pay more than someone who needs to maintain a pasture and worries about the costs of feeding multiple horses.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
What Horse Tack Do I Need?
The exact type of horse tack you need will vary based on your needs and riding style. Someone who’s just starting riding lessons can get by with basic items such as a cheap saddle pad, a used saddle, and a synthetic bridle. This will help keep costs low in the beginning.
More experienced riders or those who ride for a living may want to expand beyond the basics for increased durability, function, or comfort. For example, some riders may want a high-quality jumping saddle or a saddle with D-rings for a crupper and breast collar.
How Much Does the Average Bridle Cost?
Bridles aren’t as expensive as saddles. A bridle with bit and reins will typically cost around $100. Used bridles will cost less, and the price will increase according with the overall quality of the materials. High-quality leather bridles can cost as much as $500.
Why is Horse Tack Expensive?
Horse tack is relatively expensive because it’s traditionally made of leather. Leather costs more because of how it’s sourced and manufactured. Synthetic materials are cheaper but won’t last as long in most cases. For example, a synthetic horse saddle can cost less than $200 but is likely to wear out years before a leather horse saddle.