Top Tips For Cleaning Your Tack While Staying At Home
Ever been guilty of giving your tack a quick wipe down and saying, ‘that’ll do it’? We’ve all been there – tack cleaning has to be up there in the top ten of tasks that get left until tomorrow, and then the next day, and so on.
Due to the UK lockdown, many people are staying at home and doing their bit to limit the spread of COVID-19 and save the NHS from further strain. It’s important to keep busy while staying at home, so now is the perfect time to (you guessed it) hinch your tack!
Now, there are two kinds of people in this world, the ones who take to their saddle with a baby wipe and say ‘that’ll do it’, and the ones who put in the elbow grease! If you’re the former, don’t worry, with our top tips on tack cleaning your saddle and bridle will be gleaming in no time.
Cleaning your tack regularly is essential if you want to keep it supple and in great condition. If you properly care for tack, it will take care of you. Master saddlers would have nightmares about some of the approaches to tack care at many yards!
The goal when tack cleaning is to remove any dirt, hair, grease, and sweat that has been built up when riding. Before beginning to clean, it’s important to completely take apart your tack (we know, sigh!). By taking apart your bridle and removing your stirrups and stirrup leathers, you can properly check over your tack for any safety issues before your tack lets you down when you need it most. Check the leather for any cracks and wear and make sure that you check the metal fittings for rust and other signs of wear and tear. When you take apart your bridle and remove the stirrup leathers, make sure that you make a note of what hole everything was fastened on, to make sure that your tack is correctly fitted when you ride in it next.
Once you’ve taken your tack apart and thoroughly checked it over, you can begin removing dirt with a soft sponge and warm water, to take off any initial grime. Clean your horses bit with warm water and don’t use any soap, you don’t want to leave an odd taste in your horses mouth! It’s good to have a stiff brush at hand to get the grit out of your stirrups and other tough areas where more dirt may have built up and use a toothbrush to get into small and tricky areas. Overexposure to moisture and heat can also be detrimental to the condition of the leather, so make sure that your tack doesn’t dry in the heat after applying water, you don’t want to allow your tack to be wet for a prolonged period of time so dry it with a towel if need be.
Once you are satisfied that you have removed initial dirt and grime, you can apply some saddle soap to your tack. Make sure that you use an old school saddle soap, rather than a generic leather cleaner, as a great deal of damage to leather is a result of chemistry (an unbalanced PH level if we are getting technical). A great tip for your buckles and metal fittings is to use a metal polish to give them that extra sparkle and shine! Once you have worked the saddle soap in with a soft cloth or sponge, you can allow it to dry before applying a conditioner. Again, you can buy tack conditioner from any tack store and there is always a range to choose from so do your research. Apply the conditioner once the saddle is dry and allow it to soak into the dry leather, restoring the softness and sheen. After your tack has been conditioned, make sure that you leave it out of the sun to dry as the heat and sunlight can damage your tack and essentially cook the leather.
Once you’re all done, give your tack a ‘buff’ with a dry cloth to give it that signature gloss. Put your tack back together once dry and you are good to go! Happy tack cleaning everyone!