Best Horse Training Equipment – Review & Buying Guide

Best Horse Training Equipment – Review & Buying Guide

Horses need a lot of stuff. No matter how minimalist you might be in your own non-equine life, you can’t handle or train your horse properly without a range of good, basic equipment.

Specifically, you need equipment that will hold up to the job and not cost the moon and stars because as all horse people know, you need some money left over for vet bills. And carrots. If you are training, you will need money for carrots. We’ll leave you and your horses to do your own rating and reviewing on the carrot front. Here are our picks for training aids that are effective, reliable and reasonably-priced.

The following review contains links to Amazon.com. When you purchase something after clicking these links we earn a small commission at no cost to you.


Best Line of Bits – Korsteel Bits (9.0 / 10)

Features & Benefits

  • Korsteel bits are well made and well-designed for comfort andperformance without the huge price tag other bits can carry.

Korsteel Bit with Copper Roller
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Pros

  • Customers almost universally praise the bits’ quality and their value.

Cons

  • The bits are geared more towards an English-riding clientele, so you’ll find more options if you’re a hunter than a barrel racer.
  • Rarely, customers found their bits to be squeaky after a few rides, which they suggested they fixed with a little Vaseline in the joints.

Editorial Review

Value and dependability made Korsteel bits our top pick in this list. They offer a range of bits made with form and function in mind. Their JP by Korsteel® line is designed with Australian trainer John Patterson for even greater communication between horse and rider.

Made of materials like hand-polished steel, copper and cyprium, they offer reliability and quality at a reasonable price.

These are great bits for schooling and showing, incorporating both classic and cutting-edge bit design.

With all the available options, you’ll likely find one that fits your horse, whether it’s green, sensitive, strong or finicky. These are bits that are found in the tack rooms and tack trunks of trainers, schools and all levels of horses and riders, and for good reason.

With any kind of training aid out there on the market, you’re going to have a lot of choices. We’ve tried to give you ideas about products that find that sweet spot of reliability plus reasonable cost and Korsteel comes through on both of those fronts. For us, they ticked all the boxes: they’re well made, have a solid brand reputation behind them, feature classic and more cutting-edge options and come in at a reasonable price. Our only complaint is that they don’t currently offer as many choices for Western riders.

What Others Are Saying

People who have bought and reviewed Korsteel bits typically comment on their high quality. They tend to find them sturdy and well-made, with a nice weight to them. They often compare them to other more expensive bits and find that Korsteel bits are just as effective and come at a much more reasonable price.

It’s not uncommon to find reviewers who already own a range of these bits and who stick to buying them because they know they’ll hold up to years of use.

Some customers report ordering bits that then didn’t fit and having to pay for return shipping. Remember to always measure accurately before you order. If in doubt, contact Korsteel and ask about sizing.


Best Sticks and Whips – Fleck (8.5 / 10)

Features & Benefits

  • Fleck whips and crops are high quality, long-lasting and durable and come in a wide range of innovative designs and materials


three fleck whips


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Pros

  • Great quality
  • Many options to choose from

Cons

  • Higher price point, depending on model

Editorial Review

Fleck whips and crops are the choice of many professionals, one of the reasons why they made our top pick, as well.

The company has been around since 1870 and pride themselves on staying at the forefront of advances in manufacturing and design technology. Their products come in a range of styles, lengths, grips, colours, materials and designs and are made for many disciplines.

If you need a solid basic whip or crop, or if you have a specific requirement or issue you’re trying to solve, chances are you’ll find something from their catalogue that will fit your need.

There are many cheaper alternatives on the market, but long-term, cheaper isn’t more cost-effective if you have to replace your whip every year. That said, some customers report that the ultralight models are fragile, so read reviews before purchasing.

What Others Are Saying

Fleck’s customers love their products. Reviewers talk a lot about the durability of these whips and typically say that their purchases have stood the test of time. In their comments, customers focus on the functionality of the whips and praise their balance, weight, grip and ease of use.

The ultralight models were an issue for users, with many reviewers reporting whips that were too fragile and even some that reported the whip breaking after an ordinary bump against a stirrup.


Best Halters and Lead Ropes – Weaver Leather (8.5 / 10)

Features & Benefits

  • Weaver Leather halters and lead ropes offer durability and dependability with a wide range of options at a very reasonable price


leather halter
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Pros

  • Great value
  • Strong and long-lasting
  • Halters tend not to rub

Cons

  • Sizing can run large
  • Some people found them flimsy

Editorial Review

Weaver halters and lead ropes made our list because they’re affordable and durable.

They’re not just leather! They come in a wide range of styles, colours and fun patterns. If you’re on the lookout for a classic halter for the showgrounds, something flashy to let your horse stand out or a good basic product for everyday use, you’ll find something in the Weaver lines.

The hardware is high quality and the materials made to last. Weaver products tend to be well-stitched and nicely finished. Customers especially like that the halters don’t rub if they have to be kept on for any length of time.

Keep in mind that many customers report that they found the halters run large, so check reviews before buying to see what others say about the sizing of that particular model.

What Others Are Saying

Customers who review these halters and lead ropes almost always talk about their value. Reviewers stress that the quality of Weaver products is excellent for the price and that their hardware is solid. The range of colours and patterns is also a big draw.

People generally report that the halters seem very comfortable for their horses, with no signs of rubbing even if the horse needs to wear the halter for a longer time. Others, however, have found some halter models so soft and thin they sagged or didn’t hold their shape on the horse.


Best Training Flags – Mustang Manufacturing Corp (8.0 / 10)

Features & Benefits

  • Mustang’s training flag is lightweight, flexible, weather-resistant and affordable

black horse training flag

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Pros

  • Made of tough but light materials
  • Designed for comfort

Cons

  • Flag only comes in black
  • Its flexibility might not suit every user

Editorial Review

The Mustang flag was our pick because of its value and because it’s so user-friendly. Customers report that the flag’s handle is very comfortable and that its light weight makes it easy to hold for longer training sessions.

Some users love its flexibility, although not everyone wants a flag this bendable; those who prefer something more rigid might find that this is not the flag for them. Likewise, if you like to incorporate some colour into your work with flags, you should be aware that this one only comes in black.

For those new to using flags in their groundwork, Mustang’s could be an especially good choice: with this flag’s price point you can try it out without having to make a big financial investment.

What Others Are Saying

Economy and ease of use are the main reasons people like these flags. Reviewers typically report that the flag is lightweight, comfortable and easy to handle. People who prefer a bendable flag really appreciate this one, while others found it not sturdy or rigid enough for their liking.

Some customers have reported that the metal tip at the end of the flag has come off and needed to be glued back on, but on the whole, people comment that they don’t consider this to be a big issue, especially for the price of the flag.


Best Surcingle/Roller – Tough- 1 (8.0 / 10)

Features & Benefits

  • Tough- 1’s nylon surcingle features neoprene lining, 12 rings for attachments, heavy-duty materials and an attractive price point


neoprene-lined surcingle

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Pros

  • Great value
  • Good quality
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Sizing runs small
  • No buckle rollers

Editorial Review

Tough- 1’s surcingle made our list for functionality and value. Surcingles can be quite costly, but Tough- 1 offers a solid basic model for a reasonable price.

This is a good basic surcingle for everyday use. The rings for attachments are positioned well and large enough for most training aids. The neoprene lining offers some cushioning and a non-slip, easy to clean surface. It’s designed to stay in place, even when your horse romps. It can be worn with or without a pad underneath.

Users often found the surcingle’s girth too small for larger horses and had to modify by using either a girth extender or a different girth. Also note that the girth doesn’t feature rollers, so you may find it harder to buckle.

What Others Are Saying

People often found themselves surprised by how well-made the Tough- 1 surcingle was for the price. Reviews tend to be very positive when it comes to the quality and the design of this surcingle. Users love its generous padding and comment that it sits nicely on their horses and doesn’t move around.

Girth sizing was a frequent complaint, especially from those who tried it on draft and warmblood types. Some users reported that the stitching around the hardware was weak and easily came apart. Make sure you check the stitching before use.


Buyer’s Guide to Horse Training Aids

horse head and neck with bridle and martingale

Now that we’ve offered some ideas about training product lines to try, here’s some advice on making the smartest purchase you can make.

Do Your Research

The key to finding effective, long-lasting equipment for your training program is research. Ask people you respect what they use in their programs. Talk to other people in your equine community about what they’re using, what they like about their equipment and what they wish was different. Read articles (like this one!), ratings and reviews. You can save yourself the hassle of having to return or replace an item by learning what other people’s experiences with it have been first.

Lots of times reviewers will share a bit about their horse and the kinds of riding they’re doing so you can get a real sense of what people working with similar horses and similar issues are experiencing. Big online marketplaces will often have the option to ask a question about a product so you can learn more about a piece of tack or equipment before you buy it.

Even better, don’t be afraid to ask if you can borrow someone’s piece of equipment and try it out yourself before you buy. It often takes just one session to figure out if something is going to work for your horse or not.

Consider What You’re Using Your Equipment For

You already know your horse is going to be hard on your things. It’s like they don’t even care about keeping anything nice. Above and beyond that, though, factor the ways you’re going to use your purchase into your decision. Will you use the item every day? In what conditions and kinds of weather? How much maintenance and cleaning do you want to do? How rough are the horses (and you) going to be on it? Does it need to adjust to several animals or is it only going on a single horse? Are you the only one who will use it or are the kids at the barn likely to “borrow” it?

You can definitely spend the money on the highest-possible-end surcingle to lunge your semi-retired warmblood once a week, but you don’t in all honesty need to. On the other end of the spectrum, if that surcingle is going on three colts a day for its foreseeable future, it had better hold up and lower-cost items simply might not do that. Again, this is where research into a product is going to pay off.

Be Wary of Trends

Fads in training are unavoidable and it can be tempting to order the latest thing your own trainer is into, or that you saw a great clinician use. You don’t need me to tell you that many new solutions are actually old solutions, excellently marketed. Before you run up the credit card, think about what the new piece of equipment actually does differently and whether the real selling point is the name associated with the equipment. Most importantly, honestly consider how much time you and your horse want to spend mastering this equipment in order to get to the point where your results are the same as the professional’s when you saw them use it.

Get Creative When Shopping Around

There’s never been a wider marketplace for horse products. Big retailers and online tack shops aside, there are also social media groups for used tack and tack swaps. If you can afford to wait until a good deal comes up, you might get lucky and find that your neighbor has exactly the item you’ve been looking for and that you now don’t have to pay for shipping. It’s also easier than ever to post a “Looking For” ad up on local equine social media groups and see if someone has a gently used piece of equipment they’re willing to part with.

Think Twice About Economy Models

Many equipment manufacturers will either specialize in economy models of items or feature a line of economy items. When you’re buying something online, it can be especially difficult to see the difference between the lowest priced option and those in the mid-range.

Unfortunately, when it comes to horse tack, the rule that you get what you pay for often doesn’t seem to hold true. Ask around and you’ll find at least one person with a true story of a bridle they bought for ten dollars in 1997 that’s still going strong. A higher price doesn’t necessarily mean that your tack will last longer or serve you better than something in a mid-range.

In general, though, it pays to be skeptical of a manufacturer that’s offering an item at a significantly lower price point than any of its competitors. Not to sound like a broken record but do your research and see what other people are saying about the quality of an item. As in all things, you can learn a lot from other people’s regrets.

Do a Thorough Check Before You Use Anything

It’s so much easier to return something that’s in pristine condition than something caked in arena dirt. Before you put anything on your horse, you’ll obviously want to check for manufacturing defects and for anything out of the ordinary that might harm your horse (sharp edges, etc.). When your purchase comes out of the box, also double-check that the item measures what the description or tag says it measures and is the material and colour you thought you were getting. Test out the buckles, straps, fittings, elastics and hardware. Have a close look at the stitching. Put a little pressure on the item and make sure it’s not going to crumble the moment it comes into contact with an animal.

Don’t be afraid to return something if it’s not what you thought you were getting. It might cost some money to return, but it saves you from having a collection of crappy equipment taking up space in your tack box or garage.

Good luck and happy training!

 

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