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Horses are graceful and beautiful animals that have been domesticated for human use for thousands of years. Nevertheless, before a horse can be used for work, sport, or competition, it must undergo a vigorous education by human trainers. Specific horse training equipment will depend on what the horse is being trained to do, but there are many pieces of general horse training equipment that may be important to own and understand before beginning a horse's training.
Probably the most basic piece of horse training equipment is the halter. This is a detachable headpiece that wraps around the horse's nose and head. A halter is usually attached to a lead line, similar to a leash, that allows the trainer to direct the horse where to go and when to stop through gentle pulling and tugging. It is important to fit a halter correctly, as a too-loose fit can allow the horse to get out of it, while a too-tight fit may cause irritation to the skin.
Similar to a halter is a bridle, which is used to direct the horse while riding. Bridles are usually made of leather and consist of a halter-like structure for the horse's head, and a long pair of reins that are held by the rider. The reins are attached to the bit, which is a small mouth guard that fits into the horse's very sensitive mouth. Using the reins to apply gentle pressure to the bit lets the rider communicate to the horse a variety of commands.
Few sets of horse training equipment would be complete without a saddle. A saddle may be distinctly different depending on the type of training involved; English-style saddles are typically very small and flat, while Western-style saddles are much more bulky and ornate. Saddles are clipped or hooked together under the horse's belly, while many have stirrups that hang down on either side for the rider's feet. Saddles may need careful adjusting to remain in the correct placement without being tight enough to cause chafing of the horse's skin. An improperly positioned saddle can also slide off, taking the rider along with it.
Some horse training equipment is for the safety of the rider. Beginners may be required to wear a helmet at all times, to prevent head injury in the event of being thrown from the horse. Many people wear protective gloves to prevent sweat from ruining their grip on the reins. Sturdy shoes or boots are useful, as horses can sometimes step on their rider's feet.
Some riding disciplines use horse training equipment such as spurs, whips, or crops. These pieces of equipment are meant to guide the horse through slightly uncomfortable sensations, such as the light tap of a crop. It is important to remember that these tools are never meant to be used to discipline or punish a horse.
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