Each item in a tack room has a storied history, sometimes spanning decades, sometimes spanning centuries. Lynn Howland and I put our heads together for some research.
Top photo: Flick/Adam Gerritsma/Creative Commons License
What’s a numnah?
A saddle pad that is shaped like a saddle is also called a numnah, more commonly in Britain than in the U.S.
Here’s a funny moment from the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Sameer Mishra, an eighth-grader from West Lafayette, Indiana, was asked to spell the word “numnah” but mistakenly thought the word was “numbnut.”
What’s the story behind a figure-eight noseband?
The figure-eight noseband was originally named after the horse it was created for. The horse was named Grackle, a British racehorse that won the Grand National in 1931. The horse was a puller and the crossed noseband helped to control him.
Grackle winning the 1931 Grand National — you can see his bridle in the post parade:
What is the difference between a regular full cheek snaffle and a Fulmer snaffle?
The Fulmer snaffle was created by 1950s-60s British Olympic Dressage Coach Robert Hall of the Fulmer School of Equitation, renowned during its heyday in the ’70s for its emphasis on a proper foundation based on the principles Hall learned while riding at the Spanish Riding School. (There’s a fascinating article about Mr. Hall in a 2010 edition of The Aiken Horse — you can check it out here.) He took the top shanks of the snaffle and had them bent so they would hold the keepers on more effectively. Also a Fulmer snaffle always has loose rings to encourage relaxation of the jaw.
Who invented the Kimberwick?
The Kimberwick was developed by Phil Oliver, the famous British show jumping Olympic coach. He tweaked the name of the local town of Kimblewick where he had it made. It is sometimes called a Spanish Jumping Bit even though its origins are British. The original design has a ported mouthpiece but it now available in a variety of styles.
Where did stirrups originate?
While earlier manifestations are known, such as a toe loop that held the big toe and was used in India late in the second century BC, the first stirrups bearing resemblance to the modern variety were invented in China in the first couple of centuries AD. The innovation coincided with the first use of a saddle with a solid tree, made of felt that covered a wooden frame.
Should I mount from the ground or from a mounting block?
Although being able to mount from the ground is a good skill to have mounting from a mounting block is better for your horse. When you mount the saddle twists towards you. This twisting can either be uncomfortable or painful depending on the horse.
Slow-motion video of a rider mounting from the ground…
…versus from a high mounting block, via Centaur Biomechanics:
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