Spring cleaning: taking on your tack


So, we’ve tackled the tack room. Now for the tack.

Depending on the material of your saddle and bridle, the idea of giving it a good old scrub may fill you with dread, or just make you sigh. Either way, here are a few pointers to make the whole task a little easier:

1.    Take it all apart

We know it’s a pain, but at the end of the day it’s the only way to get into all of the nooks and crannies, especially on your bridle. It is a good idea to make a note of which holes you have your buckles on, you could even draw yourself a little diagram. That way when you come to put it back together again you won’t be faced with a complete puzzle.

2.    Hang it up

It’s much easier to clean your tack when it’s hung up, or on a saddle rack, that way you’re not cleaning it just for it to get dirtied up again on the floor. You can use the door of your horse’s stable – as long as he’s not there ready to dribble all over it for you! Hanging it up to clean also makes your tack easier to reassemble when you’ve finished, and saves your bridle becoming an indistinguishable tangle of leather straps.

3.    Use the correct type of cleaner

This may sound like a no brainer, but it’s an important thing to bear in mind when buying tack cleaners. Leather saddles need a bit of TLC every once in a while to keep them in good shape. Use a good quality leather cleaner, particularly one with beeswax – which will condition the leather without softening it, lengthening the life of your saddle. For synthetic saddles there are a variety of cleaners on the market, be sure to take note of the wash recommendations of your particular saddle.

4.    Wipe that bit

Your horse’s bit can get pretty nasty, especially if he’s prone to having a snack at every opportunity. It’s a good habit to get into to give it a bit of a wipe or at least a dunk in some water after riding him, even if it doesn’t look too grubby. That way, when you come to wash it, it won’t be in as bad a state. A soak in hot water followed by a good scrub with a brush or sponge will get rid of any dried on muck. This is also a good way to clean stirrup irons. Use metal polish on bit rings and buckles, but never mouthpieces. 

5.    Look it over

When you’re cleaning your tack, take the opportunity to give it a good glance over, checking for any defects such as stitching coming apart, and anything that might need repairing.

6.    Sit back and admire your good work!


Apply Neatsfoot oil to nourish new leather, and re-oil your tack when necessary – ideally once a month in poor weather. 

NEXT TIME: Rugs – reconditioning, cleaning and how to store correctly.

Check out the previous article on sorting out your tack room.

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