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Caring for your tack

Caring for your tack


Tack is expensive, but caring for it properly means it will last much longer, especially in the winter weather.

It's very tempting to just throw your tack in the tack room after you have returned from a ride out, and you are wet and covered in muck. However, despite how you feel, cleaning your tack immediately after a ride makes a really big difference to the longevity of leather tack and will ensure that your tack is safe to ride in and prevent any breakages. You don’t need to do an elaborate cleaning job every time, but wiping off the obvious dirt with warm water and leather cleaner is a good exercise.


Remember, leather was once a living, breathing organ-- skin! So, consider how your skin feels in winter when you’re going from the freezing outdoors to the overheated indoors and back again. The same is the case for your tack. Any sudden changes in temperature, can dry it out. So, in winter, it's important to take extra care over conditioning your tack after cleaning.


First, gently remove any visible dirt build-up from all leather goods. To wipe it off, use a cloth such as an old flannel or dishcloth dipped in a small bucket of warm water and thoroughly squeezed out. After cleaning the dirt and grease from the bridle, apply a coat of saddle soap. Be sure to pay special attention to seams, stitching, and creases in the leather. Once the surface grime is removed, it is time to use that leather soap and lukewarm water to create gentle suds onto the leather. Wipe down with a hand towel to remove excess water and saddle soap. Remember, too much moisture that lays on the leather or soaking for long periods of time without proper drying can make the leather start to break down prematurely. 


When your leather is ready for conditioning, use a rag or tack sponge and apply to tack. There are a range of conditioners on the market, some come in the form of sprays or balsam. Depending on if you are using a spray applicator or just a container of a solid product, you never need much!


Your saddle is a complex bit of kit and needs special treatment. As a result, it needs to be conditioned after cleaning, but you need to be very careful about the girth straps because too much oil can weaken them and it’s crucial that they remain strong. When you’ve finished, place a cover over your saddle to prevent the moisture from evaporating and drying out the leather.


Monthly, you should take apart bridles and apply a small amount of leather dressing. Allow the bridles to sit for a day to allow the dressing to soak right in.


If it’s the case that you are taking a break from riding and your tack is going into storage you will need to give your tack an extra good cleaning and conditioning session and make certain it’s completely dry before putting it away.


Mould is a menace in our damp climate. It can eat away at your tack, causing potentially dangerous breaks. For this reason, you need to keep your tack dry and check it regularly.

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