Now let's move on to the reins. Your reins should not reach the saddle horn when your horse is in his natural standing position. Your reins should be 2-4 inches in front of your saddle horn.  Longer if your horse runs with his head low and shorter if he runs with his head high. Reins that are too long will cause you to be late in getting your hands in proper position for your barrels. Reins that are too short might make your handle your horse too much.

    In regards to your saddle, you always want to check your fit without a saddle pad and look for nice even pressure in the bars and where they contact the back. You do not want your saddle to run down hill or have gaps. Once you have determined your saddle fits correctly, be sure you have a good quality pad. Try to avoid using an old pad that is broken down in the withers or has wear spots.

    One thing riders overlook is breast collar fit. A poor fitting breast collar can restrict a horses stride costing you time and possibly making your horse sore. The breast collar should sit above the shoulder nice and smooth. Since many breast collars end up hanging down on the shoulders, we have found wither straps will correct this by simply improving the fit of the breast collar by keeping it above the shoulder.

    Cinches are what keep you and your saddle safely on top of your horse. Cinches need to fit your horse correctly to help prevent your saddle from rolling. As we talked about on a previous tip, you should have about 8 inches of space between your cinch buckle and the rigging on your saddle.

    Now it's time to look at your splint and bell boots. Most average horses wear a medium but if you have a fine boned horse you may need to go to a smaller size.  If you find your boots barely fitting or too tight, it's best to go up to a large. Remember it's important that your tack and equipment fit comfortably and correctly to help ensure that your horse can compete to the best of his ability. You never want to lose a barrel race because of equipment that doesn’t fit properly. A comfortable horse will help you run and win!

Winning Fit 

    Making sure all your equipment fits your horse properly is part of your job as a rider. You should inspect your horse’s equipment from head to hoof. Start with your bridle, making sure it is adjusted properly with one to two wrinkles on each side of the horse’s mouth. Always make sure your bit is not sitting crooked in your horse’s mouth. If using snaps on your reins, be sure you have them on both sides for balance. Sometimes riders have bits upside down or curb chains attached in the wrong places. Always consult a more advanced rider to check out your equipment fit or help you if you are unsure.