This is why I own like 30 saddle pads and 9 pairs of gloves and 4 crops and a ton of brushes/halters/lead ropes and a dozen or so each of shirts and breeches. But zero actual horses. I'm a sucker for pretty tack and riding clothes...
Are the shoes for actual use, or just to hang over your doorways for good luck? :-)
Good one J-J!! Boots, I got boots for riding. Short ones, look like hiking boots with a heel.
Wow, cool! How fun, and interesting.
My best work friend used to own a horse (until she had a kid, couldn't afford both!) and has gotten back into riding recently. Sometimes all her talking about it makes me want to do some riding but, who has the time & money? (Okay, you do. I don't though.)
Riding always seemed like a neat activity but every time I sit on a horse I always spend the entire time feeling bad for the horse. That can't be comfortable, right? My logical counter is that it's probably not so bad for the horse since all the horse riding enthusiasts I know also really love horses and treat them very well, and thus would not be riding them if they thought it bothered them. Doesn't help my emotional reaction, though.
If a horse doesn't want you up there, he has ways of getting rid of you ;-) More seriously, you can usually tell if a horse is unhappy or uncomfortable based on behavior. A horse showing discomfort with no obvious source typically sees the vet pretty quickly.
An awful lot of industries have cropped up around the comfort of the horse just within the last 15-20 years. There are saddle fitters who will make sure the saddle is properly shaped to the horse's back, and some people even have them out every 6 months or so to adjust to the changing musculature of a horse in work. The saddle itself helps with the horse's comfort by dispersing the weight of the rider more evenly over a larger area. There are a large number of special pads that can additionally disperse the weight, avoid pressure points, absorb shock, etc.
There are horse chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists, and all kinds of alternative therapies. Feed supplements are available to help almost every issue known to man and injectable monthly joint supplements help keep them moving pain free. Some horses are comfortable going barefoot, but for those who aren't there are various types of shoes or temporary boots to fit their needs. When it comes to bridles there are so many different kinds of bits and bitless options to find something the horse agrees with, and there are also anatomical types of bridles being developed that are more comfortable for the horse. Most horses also have their teeth filed annually to make sure there aren't any sharp edges hurting them or impeding their eating.
And of course, most of us continue to take lessons throughout our lives (even professionals and Olympians typically have coaches or take lessons with each other) in order to be the best rider we can be. Someone who flops around like a lump and yanks on the reins for balance is of course going to make the horse more uncomfortable than someone who has an independent seat and hands. Horses chosen for beginners are usually those most tolerant of mistakes and also smart enough or well trained enough to correct for their rider's miscues.
Not everyone does these things (or all of them) and of course there are some who view their horses as nothing but a tool. But most people try to keep their horse as happy as possible and retire him when he is no longer comfortable.
And this is just part of why horses are ridiculously expensive to keep!
I did feel a little bad riding around on Eddie.