When it comes to equestrian sports and horse riding, maintaining the longevity and performance of your tack is crucial. Properly cleaning and storing your tack not only ensures its durability but also promotes the safety and comfort of both horse and rider.
The Importance of Cleaning Tack
Equine tack consist of bridles, saddles, cinches, reins, and other accessories, is exposed to dirt, sweat, grime, and natural oils from the horse’s skin. Over time, if not cleaned properly, this buildup can compromise the quality and longevity of your tack. Here’s why cleaning your tack is of utmost importance:
Hygiene: Regular cleaning removes bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms that can accumulate on tack surfaces, preventing infections and skin irritations for both horse and rider.
Comfort: Clean tack ensures the horse’s comfort, as dirt and grime can cause chafing, rubbing, and discomfort, leading to decreased performance and potentially compromising the horse’s well-being.
Durability: By cleaning your tack regularly, you remove sweat and dirt that can weaken leather and other materials, preserving their integrity and extending their lifespan.
Steps to Clean Equine Tack
Proper cleaning of your equine tack involves a systematic approach.
Remove Excess Dirt. Start by using a soft brush or cloth to remove any loose dirt and debris from the tack. Pay attention to crevices, buckles, and stitching, where dirt tends to accumulate. Disassemble the tack as necessary, removing any removable parts such as bit attachments or stirrups. Fill a bucket or sink with warm water and add a small amount of mild saddle soap or specialized leather cleaner. Soak the disassembled pieces for a few minutes to loosen dirt and grime.
Using a soft sponge or brush, gently scrub each piece of tack, paying close attention to areas that come into direct contact with the horse. Avoid using abrasive materials that can scratch or damage the leather. Rinse each piece thoroughly with clean water to remove soap residue.
After cleaning, wipe off excess water with a soft cloth and leave the tack to air dry in a well-ventilated area. Avoid exposing the leather to direct sunlight or artificial heat sources, as this can cause the material to dry out and crack.
Storing Equine Tack
Proper storage of your equine tack is just as important as cleaning it. Consider the following guidelines to ensure the longevity and quality of your tack:
Keep it Clean: Before storing your tack, ensure that it is completely dry. Lingering moisture can promote the growth of mold and mildew, compromising the integrity of the leather. Additionally, clean your tack periodically, even during off-seasons or periods of inactivity.
Avoid Extreme Conditions: Store your tack in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated environment. Extreme temperatures, excessive humidity, and direct sunlight can cause leather to fade, crack, or become brittle.
Use Proper Racks or Hooks: Invest in sturdy racks, hooks, or hangers specifically designed for tack storage. Hanging bridles and other leather pieces prevents them from becoming misshapen and helps maintain their structure.
Protect from Pests: To safeguard your tack from pests such as rodents and insects, consider using storage containers or bags that seal tightly. Additionally, you can place mothballs or cedar chips in the storage area to deter pests.
Regular Inspection: Periodically check your stored tack for signs of wear, mold, or any damage. Catching and addressing issues early can prevent further deterioration and potentially save you from costly repairs or replacements.
Cleaning and storing your tack should be an integral part of your equestrian care routine. By investing time and effort in maintaining your tack, you ensure its cleanliness, durability, and performance. Clean tack not only promotes the well-being and comfort of your horse but also enhances your safety as a rider. Additionally, proper storage practices help preserve the quality of your tack, extending its lifespan and saving you from unnecessary expenses. So, take the necessary steps to clean your tack thoroughly and store it in a suitable environment, and enjoy the benefits of a well-maintained equestrian equipment for years to come.
By, Staff writer
Photos courtesy of Lyndsey Lamell Photography