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The History of Horse Riding Equipment

The History of Horse Riding Equipment

Horse riding equipment can be traced back to about 700BC, although there is disagreement about dates, with some scholars believing that Equus (Latin for horse) or horses were being ridden as far back as 4000BC. Saddles were no more than tasselled cloths or pads, held on to the horses back by a strip of material, known in modern times as a girth.

From the earliest time, saddles were used as symbols of wealth. Elaborate decorations including fancy leather work, stitching and precious metals were added to prove an individual’s status. Comfort and distinction was for the rider, rather than the horse.

Although designs progressed, including the addition of basic frames, pommels and cantles, early saddles were still treeless and did not use stirrups. It wasn’t until around 100BC that a wooden saddle tree was invented by the Romans. As far as horse’s welfare was concerned, this was a major development. Saddle trees helped to spread the weight on either side of the horse’s spine and distribute evenly over the horses back. The saddle was at last comfortable for the horse as well as the rider.

Another milestone in horse gear development was the invention of the stirrup and stirrup leathers. The first pictorial evidence was on a tomb in China around AD 300. Stirrups greatly increased the rider’s ability to stay securely in the saddle and control the horse. It is argued, the invention of the stirrup was as important in the spread of modern civilisations, as the invention of the wheel or printing press.

At the same time as the innovation of the saddle, a basic bridle or headgear was used to control the horse. Full Bridles are likely to have been bitless and made of rope, sinew or leather. Early bits were made from bone, horn or hard wood, with evidence of metal bits as early as 1200BC.

The need to use horses for pulling, carrying and warfare, meant the design and evolution of horse equipment changed frequently, developing into two main categories “Western Horse Tack” and “English Horse Tack” styles during the 1800’s.

Horse Riding Equipment over the last Hundred Years

Over the last hundred years or so, horse riding equipment has been predominately made of leather, with designs aimed at specific disciplines, such as Show Jumping, Eventing, Dressage, Showing, Horse Racing, Horse Polo, etc. but ultimately horse stuff was geared towards comfort for the horse, whilst maintaining comfort and control for the rider.

Since Pink Equine was established in 2007, Horse Fashions have changed dramatically. Horsey clothes were not cool and badly stereotyped. Think of a “Horsey Person” and imagine a wearer of ill-fitting breeches, wellies and a fluorescent jacket or bulky tweeds.

Whilst traditional athletic gear was being designed for everyday fashion even if the wearer wasn’t sporty, equestrian fashion was being left behind. The last fifteen years however, has seen a huge leap forward in Equestrian design and equine couture. The realisation of “Riding” as a lifestyle choice and the invention of modern technical fabrics, have seen an influx of equestrian inspired fashion designs, which can be worn on or off the field.

Of course having gone to the trouble of co-ordinating your own look, it’s natural to assume you want your horse to look as good. In the past, you had two choices when choosing your riding tack, black or brown leather. Saddle pads were available in white, black, brown and if you were lucky green. There certainly wasn’t any fancy horse tack!

Sadly in recent years, rather than innovate, manufacturers and retailers have used cost cutting exercises, such as cheaper materials, to sell horse accessories as cheaply as possible, resulting in a tidal wave of low quality, inferior equestrian equipment. A business model based on always being the cheapest, cannot be sustained for ever and Equestrian Clearance was a good example of this, having recently gone into receivership.

Discerning customers understand the old saying is true, that “You get what you pay for”, but we also recognise there is a balance to be had between cost and quality.

Since our inception, Pink Equine has been one of the market innovators in horse tack fashion. Our unique horse tack designs offer you the rider the means to co-ordinate the look of your horse and make a fashion statement, but at a reasonable cost.

We have direct relationships with all our manufacturers and sell direct to customers, so there are no “middle men” taking their cut. This way we are able to offer our customers high quality products (that other retailers sell for a lot more!) at competitive prices.

Pink Equine the Future of Horse Riding Equipment

If you love horses and beautiful things, as we do, our products are elegant and top quality to match. We only use premium Italian leather and genuine crystals. All items are finished by hand and protected by our Quality Guarantee. We believe that tack for horses should feel good for the horse, function correctly for the rider, as well as look amazing!

Always pushing the boundaries of equestrian tack design, Pink Equine is proud to launch what we have lovingly called our “Bespoke Configurator“. The “Configurator” is an online tool which is easy to use and allows you to become your own designer. Each item of horse tack can be customised to suit your own colour scheme and style. Save designs in your own account, or print them off to show your friends.

“Elegance is not standing out, but being remembered” – Giorgio Armani


Precision – The determination to deliver consistent perfection


Individual – Providing customers with the opportunity to unleash their inner creativity


New Fashioned – Leading the way in bespoke Horse Tack Design


Knowledgeable – Over a decade of experience, designing and bringing quality horse products to market

We look forward to welcoming you as a Pink Equine customer and bringing your aspirations to reality. Become a member and benefit from money off your first purchase as well as other exclusive member privileges. Its free to join.

We love receiving pictures of your new horse riding tack and the lucky horse who is wearing it, so feel free to send in your snaps or even a video!!

Bespoke Horse Tack