Photo by Barbara D. Livingston
Always Inspect Your Tack Before Mounting
When it is time for your set* to go out, the groom will take your horse out of its stall and give it a turn around the barn to loosen up the horse’s muscles. The Thoroughbred race horse has been standing in its 12 by 12 foot stall for more than twenty-three hours, so it needs to stretch its muscles before suddenly adding the weight of a rider. Wait with the other exercise riders until your horse stops in front of you, and then quickly, but expertly, inspect the tack on your horse.
*A set is a group of horses going to the race track at the same time. Some gallop together in company and others gallop by themselves.
Check your tack every single time before you mount. Inspect both the saddle and the bridle. There are times after the bridle has been cleaned when the reins are not reattached properly or the headstall is not fastened together completely. Many things can happen to affect the proper functioning of the equipment.
As for the saddle, it could have slipped to one side or is too loose. It might be set too far forward or backward. The saddle towel and pad could also be positioned improperly. You make this check because you are completely responsible for your own safety and that of the horse once you are mounted.
You can only expect what you inspect, so be diligent in making sure your tack is safe.
Excerpt from How to Exercise a Thoroughbred Race Horse
by Janice L. Blake