Horse tack is expensive, but caring for it properly means it will last you much longer, even if you’re spending long days in the saddle.
It’s funny – some of us wouldn’t dream of splashing out on a leather jacket, but will happily spend triple the money on a good saddle. (It makes sense when you think how much more enjoyment you’ll be getting out of the horse gear!).
Here are 5 top tips to looking after your horse tack:
1. Don’t put it off!
It’s tempting to leave your horse tack for cleaning ‘later’, but cleaning it immediately after a ride makes a really big difference to the longevity of leather tack. You don’t need to do an elaborate cleaning job every time, but wipe off the obvious dirt with warm water and leather cleaner.1 A quick wipe-down that happens daily is better than an elaborate cleaning session that isn’t so frequent.2
But when you do give it a good cleaning session, take it apart to do so.
2. Give the saddle special treatment
Your saddle is a complex bit of kit and needs special treatment. Yes, you need to condition it after cleaning, but you need to be very careful about the girth straps because too much oil can weaken them3 and it’s important for safe riding that they remain strong. So condition the girth straps roughly once a year, but condition the rest of the saddle more frequently.
You should also invest in a proper saddle rack and saddle cover – the former to help the saddle keep its shape and the latter to keep the dust off. Avoid stacking saddles on top of each other because this can damage the leather.
3. Be on the watch for mould
Mould is a menace in the damp British climate. It can eat away at your horse tack, causing potentially dangerous equipment failures.4 Good ventilation helps to reduce the spread of mould, but don’t be tempted to leave your saddle in hot sun as a mould-prevention strategy; too much sun exposure will damage the leather too.
To reduce the risk of mouldy horse tack, clean it thoroughly with a water-based cleaner, make sure it’s dry before putting it away and keep your tack room well aired if possible.
4. Take extra care in winter
Think about how your skin feels in winter when you’re going from the freezing outdoors to the overheated indoors and back again. It’s the same thing with your horse’s tack: sudden changes in temperature can be very drying. So in winter, take extra care over conditioning your horse tack after cleaning.
Winter might also be a time for you to take a break from riding, which means your horse tack will be stored for a while. If so, give your tack an extra good cleaning and conditioning session and make certain it’s completely dry before putting it away.
5. Ask the manufacturer
There is a huge range of different tack-care products on the market, some much more expensive than others. The wrong product, or a product used in the wrong way, could do more harm than good. To be sure that a product is right for a specific piece of tack, check the manufacturer’s guidelines. They often have a list of recommended products. If you’re still not sure, it might be worth contacting the manufacturer directly. They’re the experts on what’s right for the horse tack they make.
At Wessex Animal Health we stock a range of tack cleaning essentials - visit our online store to view the range
Information kindly supplied by Horse Dialog brought to you by Zoetis