You’ve invested a lot of money into your tack and on your horse. It’s important to increase the longevity of your tack by keeping it properly cleaned and maintained. Another reason to keep your tack clean? Dirty, sweat-covered bridles, saddles and pads can lead to irritated spots and sores on your horse.
Tack Cleaning Tips
Cleaning items to keep in your tack room:
• Rags or towels
• Saddle soap or a product formulated specifically for cleaning saddles and tack
• Leather conditioner
• Suede cleaner (if you have a suede seat)
• Silver polish or toothpaste (for show saddles)
• Toothbrush and/or bristle brush
Ideally, you should run a clean cloth over your tack after every ride — paying special attention to any areas that may have come in contact with your horse’s sweat. If your tack is particularly dirty, muddy or coated in sweat, use a damp sponge instead.
After every ride, it’s also important to clean your bit, especially if your horse managed to snack on some grass while wearing it. Don’t use soap, which can leave a bad taste in your equine’s mouth. Instead, just rinse your bit under running water and scrub any dried sweat or food with a towel or toothbrush. As for your saddle pads, store them upside-down on a saddle rack, so they can air out and dry completely between each use.
Periodic Deep Cleanings
Every couple of months, your tack deserves a thorough cleaning. How often this occurs depends on the frequency that you ride and the type of riding you do. For example, if you prefer gentle trail rides three times a week, you could probably wait six months to deep-clean your tack. On the other hand, if you ride intensively every day, you will probably need to thoroughly clean your equipment every three months or so to keep it in good shape.
Deep-Cleaning Leather Tack — Including Saddles, Bridles, Breastplates and Martingales
• Brush off as much dirt from your tack as possible — otherwise, you’ll end up grinding the dirt into your leather surfaces during the cleaning process. Some riders will also use a garden hose to thoroughly rinse — but not soak — their saddles. Other riders, though, prefer to use a damp sponge, especially if they have a saddle with a suede seat that could be stained by water.
• Apply a leather cleaner or a combination leather cleaner/conditioner to your saddle with a damp sponge. If your leather tack has intricate tooling, use a toothbrush to work the cleaner into the pattern. Take the time to undo all of the buckles on your tack so that you can thoroughly clean every inch of your leather pieces — including those hard-to-reach creases and areas, such as the backside of the fenders. If your saddle has a suede seat, avoid getting the leather cleaner on it, as it could leave stains. Instead, clean your seat with a product that has been designed specifically for suede. This is also a good time to check each piece for signs of wear or distress and, if necessary, repair or replace them.
• Use a clean damp sponge or towel to remove all traces of leather cleaner or soap residue from your tack (if you are not using a combination cleaner/conditioner). Then, apply a leather conditioner to your tack. Be careful not to soak the conditioner into the seat padding or the stitching, as this could cause rot and damage down the road.
• Clean the silver accents on your saddle. You can use either a dedicated silver cleaner or — if you don’t have one — toothpaste.This is also a good time to wash your saddle pads. Scrub any matted hair or sweat from your saddle pads, rinse thoroughly and then allow them to completely air-dry before using them again. However, if you can’t get your saddle pads to look clean anymore or they seem to have lost their cushioning, it may be time to invest in a new one.
At Best Ever Pads, you can order a custom saddle pad that will be handmade to your specifications. For more information, please call 805-528-8009 or email: [email protected].