What to Buy & What to Skip

There’s nothing as exciting as waiting for your new horse to arrive. Before they do, it’s a good idea to take a trip to your local tack shop and stock up on all the items you’re sure to need.

Before you start shopping, make a list of everything you’ll need. Organize your list into categories, such as tack, grooming, seasonal, stall, turnout, and barn items. If you’re on a budget, stick with the basics (like a hard brush and hoof pick) and buy “luxury” items (like shampoo) down the road. With tack, buying used is a great way to save money. Don’t forget to budget some money for a first aid kit.

Feature photo Courtesy of Anu Joshi

Tack Basics

At the bare minimum, you’ll need two halters and two lead ropes to start. Why two? In case your primary one breaks, it’s always wise to have a backup on hand.

  • Saddle (used is fine)
  • Saddle pads (two, so you can alternate for washing!)
  • Girth
  • Bridle
  • Reins
  • Bit
  • Stirrups/leathers (if they don’t come with the saddle)

If you’re on a budget, you can expand your supply of tack over time. Just because other people may have two saddles, doesn’t mean you also need two!

What’s a good way to save money when buying tack for a new horse?

Try to buy used tack when you can. Especially if it’s a high-quality leather saddle, gently used could mean saving thousands of dollars.

Otherwise, keep an eye out for sales on online websites (like Christmas or Black Friday).

Photo Cred: Canva

Grooming Gear

The only items you’ll use more than your halter are your grooming tools. Here are the most important ones to get:

  • Curry comb
  • Hard brush
  • Soft brush
  • Mane/tail comb (wide-toothed)
  • Hoof pick
  • Shedding blade
  • Water scraper
  • Tote or box to hold everything (in a pinch, a cheap bucket also works just fine!)

While there are more options, these are the basics that can see you through it all.

Why is it a bad idea to share grooming tools between horses?

Horses are prone to skin conditions (such as rain rot) which are contagious. Sharing Fluffy’s brush with Star means Star could end up with the same rash.

If your horse ends up with something, make sure to thoroughly clean his brushes once the issue is resolved.

Photo Cred: Canva

Stall Savvy

If you’re responsible for the care of your horse’s stall, here are a few items you’ll find handy.

  • Pitchfork
  • Muck tub (preferably with a wheeled cart for easy transport)
  • Broom
  • Salt block holder (ground or wall)
  • Water bucket
  • Feed bucket
  • Hay net or manger (optional: some horses don’t like them, some barns won’t use them)

How many bags of shavings should you put in a stall?

This varies widely from person to person. At a bare minimum, two bags will thinly cover a 12 x 12 stall. Three adds a bit of cushion and four or more (if the stall floor is bare) provides the best coverage.

The amount of shavings you need per week will depend on how much turnout your horse gets.

How can you combat stall boredom?

For starters, try to minimize stall time. Go for overnight or extended turnout-time options when available.

Otherwise, using slow feeders (like a hay net) or stall toys (like hanging balls with a long-lasting chew treat) can be helpful.

Trailering Considerations

Some people trailer their horse weekly, others only once a year. If you own a trailer (or frequently borrow a friend’s), here are some items to have on hand.

  • Muck bucket
  • Pitchfork
  • Hay nets
  • Spare grooming bag
  • Spare halter and lead rope
  • Small first aid kit
  • Leg wraps (polo wraps work well, although some riders prefer trailering boots)

What do I need if I’m not planning to haul my horse very much?

It’s always good to have a friend who does own a trailer and can help you out in a pinch. Otherwise, keep a list of trailer rental places (if you know how to drive one) or trailering services.

Photo Cred: Canva

Equine First Aid Kit

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of a first aid kit. While they don’t need to fit into a little red box, these supplies are helpful to keep on hand:

  • Wound cleaner
  • Healing ointment or salve
  • Clean towels
  • Gloves
  • Vet wrap
  • Thermometer
  • Scissors
  • Poultice
  • Saran Wrap
  • Polo wraps
  • Cotton Quilts
  • Bute
  • Liniment

Can you create your own first aid kit?

Absolutely! Most tack shops have a large selection of potential supplies to choose from.

If nothing else, grab a water bucket and fill it up with what you think you’ll need.

Equine Seasonal Gear

No matter where you live, there are some supplies you’ll only need seasonally.

  • Fly mask
  • Flysheet
  • Fly spray
  • Waterproof turnout sheet
  • Blankets (come in many thicknesses, needs vary based on geography)

How many blankets does my horse need?

This depends on your horse and your local climate. Generally, a horse who remains unclipped and is in good physical condition doesn’t need a blanket (though a waterproof turnout sheet is still a good idea to have on hand).

If your horse is young, old, thin, or clipped, you’ll want a light- and medium-weight blanket as well.

Photo Cred: Braided

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a commonly overlooked item for a new horse?

Halters and lead ropes. Imagine your new horse arriving sans-halter. How will you get them off the trailer?

Q: What should a first-time horse owner know?

You don’t know everything, never will, and asking questions is always cool. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know something and seek some advice.

Benefit from the older and wiser horse-people around you. They’ll be more than willing to share their experiences and offer advice.

Q: What items should you have duplicates of?

Different horse people will answer different things. Here is my list of spares.

  • Halter
  • Hoof pick
  • Fly spray
  • Gloves (riding)
  • Soft brush

Parting Thoughts

Buying a horse is a wonderful time in your life. Spend some time stocking up on any supplies you may need. Don’t worry about forgetting things, because you will. If you’re on a budget, look for online sales and sales at your local tack shop.

My favorite thing about owning a new horse is choosing a color palette (for my last horse, everything I got was teal). Shopping has never been so fun!

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