Steps For Maintaining Your Tack and Equipment
Many equestrians will tell you that next to their horse, tack is one of their largest investments – both monetarily and emotionally. After all, finding that perfect saddle that fits both you and your horse is no easy task (if you are still looking for the ideal saddle, check out our selection here), so naturally it makes sense to protect your tack and ensure its longevity.
It is essential to care for your leather and synthetic saddles and bridles. Proper maintenance and storage will preserve your tack, keeping it in top condition. Check out our tips to promote safety and ensure a long life for your valuable tack purchase.
Fortunately, caring for your equipment is a simple two or three step process. Synthetic tack needs to be properly cleaned and stored, while natural leather tack necessitates an additional step of conditioning the leather as well.
All leather and synthetic tack must be frequently cleaned to remove dirt, dust, sweat, and hair, all of which will damage the material over time. Even if your tack isn’t noticeably dirty, this is a step that you must be diligent about in order to preserve your tack.
Many saddle and bridle manufacturers recommend or produce a specific cleaning product. While this is an excellent medium for cleaning your tack, there are a many other products that are equally as beneficial.
Some equestrians choose glycerine-based saddle soaps, which do not leave a sticky texture on your leather. Other natural-based cleaners absorb into the leather, helping to maintain it’s natural oils. There are even complete cleaning products that condition the leather as it is washed. Just remember that these 2-in-1 tack cleaning products should not be used on synthetics.
When cleaning synthetic tack, much of the dirt and grime can be removed with a clean sponge or cloth and tepid water. There are specific cleaners formulated for synthetic leather products which efficiently remove any remaining debris.
In order to keep leather tack supple and free from cracking, equestrians need to condition their equipment regularly. After thoroughly cleaning your leather, allow it to dry completely (not giving the leather ample time to dry may result in mold). Then, apply a thin layer of conditioner, allowing it to completely soak into the leather. You may find that areas that get the most wear absorb the conditioner quickly, so apply another layer in these areas for complete coverage.
Just as with cleaners, there are a number of different conditioning products on the market. Choose one that you feel comfortable with and is recommended by your tack manufacturer. Many conditioners are neatsfoot oil based, while others use natural lanolin to soften and supple the leather. Creams that are formulated with mink oil help the leather to maintain its durability, while beeswax protects and seals the leather while giving the rider additional grip.
Synthetic equipment does not need to be conditioned.
Where and how you store your tack should always be considered. Extreme temperatures can wreak havoc on your equipment. Excess heat or cold can cause leather to lose its natural oils, which will make it hard and brittle. Severe temperatures will also damage synthetic products, making them stiff and unmalleable. All tack should be kept out of direct sunlight, which will degrade the material.
Saddles should be stored on a rack that protects the internal structure of the tree. Look for a saddle rack that will not compress the panels of the saddle or cause them to become misshapen.
Consider keeping your tack in saddle and bridle bags to protect them from dust – and to maintain all of your hard cleaning and conditioning work!
One Final Rule of Thumb
As you clean and condition your equipment, inspect it visually for any signs of wear and tear or damage. Pay special attention to the stitching on the stirrup leathers, billet straps, and the girth buckles. When any sort of deterioration is noted, make sure that you replace it or have it repaired immediately. The safety of you and your horse depends on having quality and safe equipment.
The Cheshire Horse has everything that you need to properly maintain your tack, carrying a wide variety of quality cleaning and conditioning products, as well as saddle stands and tack and equipment bags. Our friendly and experienced sales staff can help you to determine what you need to correctly care for your saddles, bridles, halters, and the rest of your equipment.
Save the Date!
We will be hosting a free Spring Saddle Fitting Workshop at our NH store on Sunday, May 5 from 5:30-7:30 PM. Join us for basic English and Western saddle fitting tips, and much more! You’ll learn about saddle innovations from top brands, you’ll have the opportunity to sit in different saddles and see their fitting features, and you’ll learn about how different saddle pads affect saddle fit. There will also be a demonstration of Easy Change saddle fitting solutions. Refreshments will be served, and you can enter to win great prizes.