Cleaning tack – love it or hate it!
Some people love to do it; to others it's a task to put offto a rainy day. Whatever your viewpoint, there’s no denying that tack cleaningis an essential part of horse care. That is, of course, if you want to keep yourtack in excellent condition, preserve its life and prevent any injuries toyourself or your horse through unsafe saddlery.
Yet it's amazing how many people don't follow the correctregime, putting their tack at risk in the process. We’re hoping you don't fitinto that category, but just incase, or if you know someone who might need alittle help, we’ve put together a handy guide to make tack clean reallystraightforward!
Gather all your equipment – warm, clean water;two clean sponges; antiseptic wipes; saddle soap or dressing (an antibacterialtack cleaner has many added advantages); a buffing cloth or chamois; a nail; ablunt knife.
2. Take your tack apart, making note of the holesthat are currently fastened. Remove saddle cloth, girth, stirrups and bit, andset aside.
3. Lay out all the leather and inspect. If it isvery dirty, gently scrape a blunt knife across it to remove the dirt. Be carefulnot to damage the leather.
4. Dampen one sponge and squeeze the excess out.Place the leather between the sponge, and draw it through tightly to remove allthe dirt. Rinse and repeat, until all the leather is clean.
5. Use antiseptic wipes or spray to give a finalclean of the tack, helping to keep it hygienic and disease free.
6. Once the leather is spotlessly clean, it's timeto dress it. Using soap or dressing keeps the leather supple and protects itfrom the elements. Putting dressing on top of dirty tack traps the dirt againstthe leather, which over time builds up and eventually weakens the leather.
7. If using soap, dampen the second sponge, rinseuntil nearly dry, and rub into the leather. If the sponge is too wet, the soapwill foam up and will not protect the leather adequately.
8. If using dressing, follow the instructions onthe bottle, as it may differ per dressing. Make sure whatever dressing you use,it is worked into the leather thoroughly.
9. An antiseptic tack cleaner not only cleans butkills bacteria, fungi and viruses, helping to keep tack hygienic. It is alsogreat at stopping mould and mildew from building up, as it carries on working.Plus, you can also use it on bits and stirrups.
10. Whilecleaning your leather, check it for any damage, and make a note to have itmended if necessary.
11. Whenall the leather has been dressed, check the holes, as soap and dressing canblock the holes. Use a small nail to push through to make sure the holes areclear.
12. Usea buffing cloth to give a final polish, which will help give your tack anaesthetic shine.
13. Cleanyour bit in fresh clean water.
14. Scrubyour stirrups.
15. Brushyour saddle cloth and girth, or wash if very dirty.
16. Putyour tack back together, hang it up and take pleasure from looking at your hardwork!
How often should youclean your tack?
Let's be blunt here; you should clean your tack every timeyou ride. However, if you are not a fan of the task, the least you should do isclean your bit (otherwise it's like putting a dirty toothbrush in your mouth),wipe off the dirt with a damp sponge and apply some antiseptic tack cleaner. Thegood news, with a daily tack clean, you don't need to to take your tack apart!
If you are riding daily, do a full clean every week to keepit in good condition. For those who are hunting or if riding in bad weather,you may need to do a full clean every time. At the end of the day, if youinvest your hard-earned money into decent tack, it's worth putting some effortto keep it lasting longer.
And is it worth the risk of your tack breaking as you gallopup the bridle way? A small price to pay for safety.