Working Ranch Guide to Tack

Whether you are a veteran rider or just a beginner on your first cattle drive vacation, it pays to know the language of tack. Though you might not use every piece of equipment we mention in this article on your working ranch vacation, understanding the language of tack will help you be one step ahead of your game on your working cattle drive vacation.

On the range, success often means having the right gear and knowing how to use it. If you are not already, familiarize yourself with these tack terms. You’ll be glad you did when it comes time to saddle up and embark on your cattle drive vacation.

Cattle Drive Vacation: Real Work

Anyone who has ever worked with their hands knows this: using the right tool makes all the difference. During a cattle drive holiday at Dryhead Ranch, you will learn all about the specialized gear that makes Montana cattle drives possible.


Most people are familiar with the saddle. The saddle acts as a seat while horseback riding. It is typically made of leather and requires meticulous care to maintain, both for the comfort of the rider and the horse.


A surcingle is a strap that fastens around a horse’s girth region. It is used to hold the saddle in place.


A “crupper” is occasionally used to add even more stability to the saddle. It is composed of a padded loop, usually leather, with one side attached to the saddle and the other around the base of the horse’s tail.


Breeching, also known simply as a “horse harness,” is the series of straps used when a horse is used to pull a cart or other implement. Chances are, you will not see much breeching during your working ranch vacation.

Saddle Blanket

A saddle blanket is used between the horse’s back and the saddle to ensure the horse’s comfort during riding.


Stirrups are foot straps designed for added stability, especially during hard riding. They hang down from either side of the saddle.


A bridle is a head harness used to direct the horse. Some people consider the entirety of the head gear, including the bit and the reins, as the “bridle.” Others might exclude the bit and reins, referring only to the harness.


Hackamores, or bitless bridles, are stiff nosebands used to direct horses. They are often used to train young horses and in Western riding.


The reins (depending on who you ask) attach to the bridle and are held in the rider’s hands. The rider uses the reins to direct the horse.


The bit is a piece of metal or other hard material held in the toothless region of a horse’s mouth by the headstall (unless you consider the bit and the headstall to be a part of the bridle, that is). It is used along with the reins to direct the horse.


Halters are bitless head harnesses which can accept a rope or lead for leading a horse while walking.

Horsing Around on a Working Cattle Ranch Vacation

Learn from the best! On a cattle drive vacation, you will have opportunities to work along real cowboys and see how they get things done. A hands-on education is the best kind of education, and Dryhead Ranch is excited to show you the ropes.

Now that you know a little about tack, you can confidently talk equestrian with our seasoned staff during your working ranch vacation. Horses will be a big part of the adventure. They are an indispensable part of any cattle drive. Come learn a little more about horses with us here at Dryhead ranch. Book your cattle drive vacation today.

Interested in a Cattle Drive Vacation? Send us Your Questions or Comments.

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