Well maintained saddlery is vital for the comfort and safety of horse and rider and will help to ensure that the tack lasts.

All tack should be lightly cleaned after use, the bit should be washed and leatherwork should be wiped with a damp sponge and then quickly wiped over with saddle soap.

At regular intervals the bridle should be completely taken apart and the saddle stripped down. All buckles and straps should be undone and stirrups, girths and guards removed from the saddle. This provides an opportunity to check all fastenings such as the cheekpieces, reins and stirrup leathers. If they are showing any signs of wear or cracking then they should be replaced immediately to avoid them breaking at an inconvenient moment

The bit and stirrups should be washed in warm water and can be scrubbed with a brush to remove any stubborn dirt and once dry metal polish can be applied to the stirrups but should never be used on the bit. To keep a stainless steel bit looking good simply wipe over with a little baby oil after washing.

Leather Tack

Saddle, bridle and any other leather tack can be cleaned with luke warm water and a sponge. A small amount of tail hair can be used to help get rid of stubborn clumps of grease. If tack is exceptionally muddy wash in cold water and leave to dry naturally away from any form of heat which will dry it out permanently. Saddle soap can also be used to clean off your saddle before applying a leather dressing. It is important to clean all areas including the underside of the saddle, under the saddle flaps, etc.

There are many different types of leather dressings available and most carry useful information on cleaning your tack so read any instructions carefully before use.

Synthetic Tack

Synthetic tack should be cleaned using a stiff brush and luke warm water. Once cleaned it should be left to dry naturally.

Girths and Numnahs

Girths and Numnahs should be brushed and cleaned regularly and can be hand or machine washed provided they are of washable fabric. Leather girths should be cleaned daily and kept soft with a quality leather dressing. Dirty and stiff leather girths can cause unpleasant girth galls leading to time off work and considerable discomfort.

Inspection

Whilst cleaning the tack it is important to inspect it for any signs of weakness or damage and arrange repair or replacement as necessary. In addition to the actual leather the stitching should be checked, particularly the stitching that attaches the girth straps on the saddle.

Storage

All tack should be kept in a dry room. Tack kept in a damp atmosphere can become mouldy and rot and if kept too warm the leather can dry and crack.

Good quality tack will last a lifetime if looked after properly.