You might have seen quite a few riders at events using a breastplate on their horse alongside their usual tack. Although they look professional on a cross country course, there is actually a pretty good reason why riders choose to use them. Let’s find out as we go through what a breastplate is and the different types available.
A breastplate is a piece of tack that attaches to your horses’ saddle to hold it securely in place, and to stop it from slipping backwards. Riders who normally do a lot of jumping and fast work will opt for a breastplate, as the natural movement of the horse jumping can cause saddles to slip which obviously isn’t ideal when you’re halfway around a cross country course! When fitted correctly, they can be a really effective piece of tack and give you added peace of mind that your horse will be comfortable and you’ll both be safe when riding.
However, there are a lot of different types to choose from, so we’ll give you a quick overview of what each style does.
This is the more traditional of breastplates and is always made from a sturdy leather material. A hunting breastplate holds the saddle in place via four main points. These consist of the D rings located at the top of the saddle on both sides, the chest, and the girth. This breastplate is probably one of the more popular styles as it fits in the same manner as martingales, except there are two additional straps to attach to the saddle D rings. It’s also ideal if your horse does usually wear a martingale day to day, as this attachment can be fitted easily and is often already included with most brands.
A 5 point breastplate works similarly to a hunter breastplate except that it spreads the pressure more evenly across a larger surface area. These five points consist of the D rings, girth, chest and neck just above the shoulder. Often, five point breastplates will use a comfortable sheepskin padding and elastic on the areas where there is more pressure such as the shoulders to keep your horse comfortable while they work.
Made from a wide elastic strap which sits across the chest, this breastplate is mainly seen on racehorses as it allows the shoulders to move more freely. It should sit just at the top of the shoulders but below the bottom of the gullet. It’s important that when fitting this type of breastplate that it doesn’t obstruct the horses windpipe, so we’d say to seek help from a professional fitter if you’re unsure.
This design is a more modern version of the hunting breastplate, and as the name suggests, fits in a Y shape. These breastplates are usually made from elastic and leather to allow greater freedom of movement, particularly at the shoulders. The Y shape also causes less pressure on the windpipe so your horse can focus on their job and be comfortable.
The Schockmohle Pro Jump Plus Breastplate is ideal for eventers who want a quick turnaround with their tack. The end pieces are made with snap hooks so you can simply clip onto the D rings and girth so you can quickly attach and go. It also comes with a martingale attachment so is ideal if your horse usually wears one, and the wide straps are made from elastic for optimum fit.
Another firm favourite is the Schockemohle Sevilla Select Adjustable Leather Breastplate which fits like a hunting breastplate. Again, this design is great for those who event as the snap hooks can quickly be attached to the D rings and girth for fast tach changeovers. As well as this, it’s highly adjustable, and you can actually buy separate side parts to allow the fit to be unique to your horses shape.
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