Tack cleaning is often the thing most riders dread however it can be a very rewarding process and not necessarily the dreaded chore it is reported to be.
The care of the tack is far from just a cosmetic venture. It has varied safety implications for both horse and rider.
There is no substitute for well-fitting tack; in fact a poorly fitting saddle can cause untold discomfort to the horse and therefore many problems for the rider.
Your tack should always be stored correctly. Saddles should be supported on correctly shaped racks and bridles should be hung untangled on a bracket designed for the purpose. These generally have a domed profile keeping the leather nicely curved. Always avoid hanging a bridle on a single hook as the head piece can become misshapen. Ideally a tack room should be well aired and provide a dry environment but this is not always the reality.
The cleaning of the tack can be made easier by employing a few good habits.
It is always easier to clean mud and sweat from your tack when it is fresh! You may not feel like it having just returned from your ride but a quick wipe over pending a deep clean saves a lot of graft.
Depending on the storage conditions and the frequency of use you can sometimes notice a formation of mildew on the saddle .This is sometimes more evident under flaps and straps or where moisture has become trapped. This is not only unsightly but if left untreated and cleaned can cause damage to the leather if it takes hold.
It is not necessary to remove straps and dismantle your tack on a daily basis but it is important to be vigilant in checking the condition of the leather. The leather will be maintained in good condition by a good cleaning routine. The use of a good leather conditioner following a thorough clean will help maintain flexibility in straps, stirrup leathers, and in the bridle preventing pressure on the horses face. Take care with the use of oil as over oiling can make the leather too soft and a bit fluffy reducing the strength of straps etc.
Remember cleaning tack is not like washing clothes, and too much water can be damaging to the leather so do not immerse the tack. For synthetic saddles, cleaners are available with particular ingredients suitable for their composition. So happy scrubbing and polishing and remember do it now! Not later, as safety is paramount.