No matter what type of riding you enjoy, well-maintained horse tack is an essential part of your horse-riding experience. Aside from being important for appearance and functionality, taking proper care of horse tack is also beneficial to your horse. Learn more about the benefits of caring for horse tack and how to keep it in clean, ready-to-use condition.
Benefits of Properly Cared-for Horse Tack
- Clean Horse Tack You Can Be Proud Of: Horse tack that’s clean, soft and supple can make a positive impact as you show or race your horse, whereas tack that’s lacking in polish can make a negative impact. The saddle, reins and other items are an integral part of the riding experience, and their appearance should reflect that.
- Germ- and Bacteria-Free Tack: Germs and bacteria from the horse’s saliva and sweat can damage your horse tack and cause problems for your horse. Regular cleaning and care protects horse tack, as well as you and your horse, from germs and bacteria.
- Avoid Molding or Cracking: In addition to keeping horse tack clean, proper care techniques also prevent the leather from becoming so dry that it cracks. Likewise, proper cleaning and conditioning protects the leather from becoming too moist, which can lead to the development of mold.
- Keep Leather Soft and Supple: The leather tack you use should feel comfortable for you and your horse. Properly maintained tack will be comfortable when you put it on your horse and prevent him from associating the riding preparation process with discomfort.
- Protect Yourself and Your Horse: Having leather tack that’s properly maintained isn’t just a matter of keeping up appearances. It protects you by handling easily and feeling comfortable throughout your ride.
Keep Horse Tack Clean and Conditioned
- Daily Care Steps: It’s important to remove superficial dirt from the surface of horse tack after each use. Wipe down the bit with a clean cloth, and check the underside of the saddle to ensure it’s not damp from the horse’s sweat.
- Before a Thorough Cleaning: Gather clean cloths, a quality leather cleaner and leather conditioner. Since a thorough cleaning warrants unbuckling every buckle, do this ahead of time.
- In-Depth Cleaning: After wiping away surface dirt, spray the surface of your tack with a non-toxic, gentle leather cleaner. Avoid using a wet sponge or one that’s abrasive. Once the tack is clean, wipe off residue with a clean, damp cloth. Follow by going over the tack with a dry cloth.
- Conditioning: Allow the leather to dry completely after cleaning. Then apply a small amount of leather conditioner in thin, even coats, using a lint-free cloth or brush.
- Drying: It’s best to clean and condition horse tack the day before use to allow the conditioner time to soak into the leather. Freshly conditioned leather tack can be slippery, making it unsafe to use.
- Dealing with Mold and Mildew: A greenish or white powder on your leather tack is indicative of mold. Wipe it down with a solution of water and apple cider vinegar before applying conditioner. Keep tack stored in a dry place.
Long-Lasting Beauty and Performance
Proper cleaning, care and maintenance should be of the utmost importance to the horse enthusiast, the casual rider and the competitive rider. The condition of the leather impacts how the horse feels and determines how long and how well the tack lasts. Follow the steps above to reap the benefits of properly cared-for horse tack.