Basic Equipment You Need for Your First Horse

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illustration of basic horse riding gear for beginners.

Once you get a horse, you’ll need a few basic pieces of equipment so you can care for it properly, and of course, enjoy the activity that you bought it for, whether that be riding or driving. Many of the things you may already own if you have a country property. The pitchforks, wheelbarrows, and shovels used for cleaning up after horses are the same as you what you would buy in any hardware store for gardening or other yard work. There are some specialty items you’ll need to pick up at your local tack shops, such as special brushes and the tack for riding and driving.

Although bits, bridles, and saddles (also called tack) might be something you’re excited to acquire before you bring your horse home, it might be best to wait. That way, you’ll be able to custom fit your horse, keeping it comfortable and happy. Other items like brushes, buckets, and lead ropes can be purchased well ahead of time, so they’re waiting for your horse when it arrives. You should also have several weeks’ supply of hay and any supplements or grain you decide to feed your horse. Your fences and stable should be ready. You’ll need some type of bedding if your horse will be stabled at all, and of course, you’ll need a good supply of fresh water.


Some of the items, like feed and water troughs, can be made of re-purposed buckets and barrels. Just be sure no toxic substances were stored in them and that they're well cleaned out and have no sharp edges.

Here are the items you will need if you plan to care for and use your horse for riding and driving.

Feeding Equipment

  • Feed pan for individual feeding
  • Feed container (preferably metal or plastic with secure lid to prevent rodents) to hold feed
  • Water trough or large buckets
  • Water heater or heated buckets if you live in an area that experiences freezing temperatures.

Barn and Pasture Maintenance

  • Pitchfork
  • Stable broom
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Manure Fork
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Spare lightbulbs
  • Extension cord
  • Secure, dry place to store hay/feed/tack/supplies

Handling and Grooming

  • Halter
  • Lead ropes
  • Hoof pick
  • Curry comb
  • Body brush
  • Mane comb
  • Cloth (an old washcloth will do)
  • Fly repellent
  • Blankets for cold weather if needed
  • Sweat sheet if needed


You’ll probably decide to ride either English or western, and this will help you decide what type of tack to buy. To help with saddle fit, you should probably buy a saddle after you’ve brought your horse home, or had a chance to try any saddle you’re thinking of buying on the horse.

  • Saddle with girth or cinch
  • A saddle pad or blanket
  • Bridle and bit
  • Helmet
  • Stirrups and stirrup leathers
  • Optional: lunge line
  • Optional: tendon boots, bell boots, any other leg support or protection the horse may need


There are several types of harnesses, both light and heavy horse. You’ll need to learn which is the right type for the driving you wish to do.

  • Harness with bridle
  • Safe, sturdy vehicle
  • Driving whip
  • Helmet

Emergency Care

Emergency information and gear should be posted or stored in a place that is easy to find if there is an emergency.

  • List of emergency numbers, including veterinarian, farrier, local animal control
  • First-aid kit

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