Protect your tack this winter

We are reaching the time of year again where the weather is constantly changing. One day warm and raining the next bitterly cold/snowing, then windy etc. This changing weather really takes it out of your tack. Tack in use is exposed to all of the elements, and any tack not in use starts to get covered in mould from all the damp and changing temperatures. It can seem like a never ending job trying to keep on top of it, and stop your tack from being ruined. We have put together some handy tips to help you get on top of your tack and keep it spic, span and winter ready.

1. Give it a really good clean:

I like to get the water as hot as possible and give it a good scrub, now if the tack is fairly clean a wipe over with the sponge will remove the dirt and hair, however some areas get particularly dirty and may need a scrub. Areas to check are the inside of the noseband, the back of the keepers on the cheek pieces and the billet hook keepers, and the browband. These areas may need more of a scrub, or you can use your nail to gently scrape off the grease so as not to scratch the leather.

2. Leave it to dry

I take the whole bridle apart and then clean each part in the order i will put it back together. So that by the time i have finished washing all the parts, the first bit – the headpiece is dry.

3. Give it a good condition

Once it is fully dry you need to re nourish the leather using a good conditioner or saddle soap. My personal preferences are Renapur or Oakwood Leather Care. I find their products fantastic, and they leave the tack looking like new. There are loads of different products out there so it really is a case of trying them and finding which one you like best. You can get solid tubs and bars of the soap, as well as tubes of liquid soap. My preference again is the tubes, as i find them much easier to use and much less messy than the bars. But again its all about personal preference.

4. Clean the metal work – bits/stirrups

Whilst leaving the saddle soap to soak in I clean the metal parts of the tack, the bit and the stirrups. I soak them in hot water whilst i am cleaning the leather, then i take them out and give them a good scrub, after drying them i cover them in a thick layer of tooth paste and leave for a minute before washing off. The tooth paste brings the metal up really shiny, you can also get a really good paste called Diamond Paste – Sprenger do one, or it is available in DIY shops too. However i prefer the toothpaste as i use it on the bit, as well as the stirrups, so i know it is safe. After washing off the toothpaste i buff the metal dry with a clean cloth.

4. Buff the leather with a dry clean cloth and put back together

Once the metal work is done and the conditioner has had time to sink in, i get a clean cloth and wipe over the leather, removing any excess conditioner and buffing the leather, then putting the bridle back together. When i finish i loop the reins and any neck straps, martingales etc through the throat lash and buckle it up.

Don’t forget to do your girth and stirrup leathers !!

If your tack gets soaked in the rain allow it to dry out then give it a good slather of saddle soap and allow it to sink in for a couple of minutes before buffing away the excess. If you don’t soap it after it has been soaked it can cause the leather to dry out and crack.

5. Storing the tack

In order to stop your tack going mouldy it needs to be kept as dry as possible. There are a few options here. If you have tack you are not using then taking it home and keeping it in a wardrobe or the airing cupboard inside a pillow case is a good option. If you need to keep the tack at the yard then covering it up will help, You can just put it inside a pillow case, which will help, but is not waterproof, or you can get bridle and saddle bags. Personally i put a fleece cover on my saddle and then a waterproof one over the top of that, and i put my bridle inside a pillow case and then into a bridle bag. I have found this combination of a soft, warm material with a waterproof one works very well.
Once i have given the tack a good clean and then packed it away i give it a quick wipe over with leather wipes every few weeks if it is not in use. The tack that i am using, i try to wipe it down every few days and then give it a thorough clean every couple of weeks.
Other things to look at to help are dehumidifiers for the tack room, you can buy small plastic ones in Poundland, these work well in a small area, but if you have a large tack room you may need to invest in a bigger electric one. Also look at heating the tack room,there are various different ways of doing this, from using plug in heaters to having a full heating system put in,  again this option will depend on the size of the room and the budget.


There has been a lot of Tack Room break ins over the last few weeks, with thousands of pounds worth of tack and equipment being stolen. So what can we do to help stop ourselves being the victims of theft? First of all you need to look at your security measures, now this can be hard, especially as many of us are on Livery Yards and therefore have no control over what measures can be put in place. The fact that tack rooms are used by many people also increases the risk of human error and doors being left open or unlocked and also alarms etc not set, also with a busy tack room on a big yard people may not question anyone who goes in as they just assume they are authorised to be there. However having a lot of people using it is also a deterrent as it means there are less periods of time when no one is about and it also helps stop routines being set, as people turn up at all times.

With all security it needs to be seen as a deterrent – not a complete solution that 100% stops all theft. When looking at what measures you can put in place always start from the inside, with the items you are trying to protect. Then work your way out adding in layers of security (protection) . The other constraint on Security is budget, here we will look at some options for you that hopefully cover all budgets.

Tack Lockers:

Over at Equine Security they have designed a High Security Tack Safe called the Tackguard, which is a small strong room designed to protect your tack. They start at around £1100 and are bolted to the floor of your tack room. They hold up to 3 saddles each and can be built to your specification. These are perfect if you are on a livery yard and unable to put other security measures in place. They are at the higher end of the budget, but may be a worthwhile investment if you have hard to replace tack.

Tack Cabinet

More details on these can be found here.

Tack lockers are another very good investment. They work very well in a shared tackroom where you want to be able to securely store  your equipment without other tack room users having access to it.  Bear in mind that in order for the tack locker to protect your tack fully from theft it will need to be attached to the fabric of the building or bolted to the floor. Otherwise it can easily be wheeled or carried onto a truck and taken away, giving the thieves plenty of time to work on cutting open the locker without needing to bring tools etc to the yard.

Security Saddle Racks:

There a few saddle racks on the market that act like a wheel clamp, for your saddle

Bulldog Security Saddle Rack:

  • Easy to use, saddle can be secured in seconds.
    • Fitted with Bulldog’s proven high security plunge lock, with over million possible
    combinations.
    • For ease of use, keys are only required to unlock Saddle Stop®
    • Highly visual yellow powder coating.
    • Wall bracket is manufactured from 30mm x 12mm steel.
    • Supplied with security screws to fit to brick or wooden walls. Head design only
    allows screws to be inserted. Undoing these screws with a screwdriver is not possible.

 

Image result for bulldog saddlerack

 

Stubbs England  do a lockable saddle rack that attaches to the wall and works in the same way as a conventional one, but has a metal bracket that comes down over the saddle and is locked into place when not in use. If you are using the Stubbs England one you will need to provide your own padlock, so ensure you get a high quality security padlock, Asser and Abloy are good makes to look for, however your local locksmith will be able to advise you too.

 

If you are going to use one of these saddle racks, make sure it is being attached directly to the wall, as if it goes onto a plinth, it may be possible to remove the plinth and take the saddle rack too.

 

Marking or Chipping your tack

 

You can have your postcode stamped onto your saddle, Leather saddles are stamped on the panel under the saddle flap. This method can also help to reunite you with any items that may get stolen

 

They  avoid the soft leather of the padding to ensure no damage occurs in the process of stamping the letters.

 

 

Synthetic saddles are engraved with the postcode onto the stirrup bar.

 

Bridles are marked on the underside of the headpiece, where it fits behind the ears of the horse.

More details can be found at http://www.ukhorsewatch.org.uk/index.html

Once stamped your details can be put onto a database which is used by police and other agencies, much like micro chipping, to reunite stolen goods with their owners.

Datatag provides a simple to fit electronic ‘finger print’ for your saddle together with a warning decal for the tack room.

Unlike some similar systems on the market, Datatag uses a transponder that is resistant to the crush and shear that occurs in a saddle and benefits from the comprehensive infrastructure of Police scanners to support the Datatag system.

Datatag is easy and quick to install at home with no special tools needed. Alternatively you can use your local saddler to install it for you.

Datatag Equine Saddle System

 

You can also get microchipping kits which are Simple and quick-to fit, they contain a pre-loaded syringe with an RFID microchip.

Using the same technology as is used for horse microchip implants, all trading standards offices in the UK have the scanners.

The chip is implanted into the lower panel of the saddle on the right-hand side, and a permanent, numbered anti-tamper sticker is attached to the gullet of the saddle to indicate that the saddle has been micro chipped. This method has been a PROVEN deterrent to thieves . Once Chipped you can register your saddle on  the national database. There are saddleries that offer to fit the service for you, alternatively you can purchase a DIY kit to do at home.

The Building

The next layer is to look at the fabric of the building the tack room is in. Ideally a robust construction such as brick or metal, without windows. If the building is not robust then thieves will just go in through the wall and bypass any doors etc.

Shipping containers are ideal tack rooms from a security point of view, as they only have one entry point, are a robust material that would require cutting tools to get in and have a metal door and no windows. Windows are a security weak point, so if your tack room has them the ideal solution would be to get them bricked up, if this is not possible, then consider putting bars on the inside of the window, or boarding up the window with wood. The next point to consider is entry and exit points, from a security point of view the fewer the better. All doors on the tack room should be outward opening and fitted with security hinges, as thieves will not think twice about removing the door. Again the perfect solution is an outward opening steel lined security door with security hinges, however these are very expensive. A cheaper alternative is fitting sheet metal to the back of your door, for an added layer of protection. At the very least you want to have a very thick sturdy wooden door, outward opening with security hinges.

Looking at the lock on the door is also very important, not all locks are considered equal. Many insurance companies specify that at the very least the door must be secured with a  5-lever mortice deadlock, some also have clauses about the windows too, and again specify that the room has steel bars or steel grids on all windows; or Large metal containers that cannot be removed and are suitably locked. Some companies also base the excess you have to pay on whether there are visible signs of forced entry, so if someone else leaves the tack room open and your tack is stolen, it could result in you paying a greater excess than if the tack room has been forcibly broken into. It is worth having a look at your lock and checking your policy. There is nothing worse than having something stolen, only to find out it is not covered by insurance due to the wrong lock, or a door being left open.

If you are using a key lock on the tack room door the key must be kept in a secure place when not in use wall mounted key safes, secured by a code are good for this, especially if the tack room is shared by lots of people, as it cuts back on the amount of keys needed. Make sure the code is changed every time a livery moves yards though, and also ensure there is a spare key to hand, in case it gets lost, or someone accidentally takes it home.

Phoenix Key Store - KS0002C

An alternative to keys is using a Push Button Code Lock on the door instead. These are good because you can change the code if someone leaves the yard or you have to give to someone for a one time access use, then it can be changed again for security. However be sure to check with your insurance company that this type of lock is approved by them.

Extra Security Measures

The next points to consider are what you can add as extra deterrents, things such as security lights, CCTV and alarms.  These are all proven methods to deter thieves. You can get motion sensor solar security lights cheaply off the internet, these require no electrical source and are very easy to install.

You can also now get CCTV cameras which run off a sim card and leisure battery, allowing you to view your tack room at any time on your mobile phone, with out the need for an electricity point or WIFI on your yard.  Rydale Security Cameras do a popular one

Another company offering rural security solutions are Alarms for farms who have the  GSM Stable & Tackroom Alarm which is Ideal for remote stables and tackrooms, and for use where no mains power is available.

A GSM-enabled Stable / Tackroom Alarm incorporating a GSM control panel and a selection of internal security sensors. The receiver and GSM dialler are located somewhere reasonably secure and dry (usually in the roof of the tackroom), and the PIR sensor / transmitter is located in the area to be protected (also, usually the tackroom). The system is armed and disarmed either by text message or a remote control keyfob on on a pre-programmed schedule. Once armed, any intrusion will trigger the system and cause text messages and voice-calls to be sent to up to ten phone numbers.
The system also has an output for an external siren which will serve to frighten the intruders off. This is especially useful if you don’t want to confront intruders, or if you live some miles away and are not in a position to respond rapidly. Additional sensors can be incorporated into the system  to protect a wider area. To protect areas outside the stable block, external infra-red beams can be deployed at gates and vulnerable stretches of the perimeter up to a kilometre from the control panel.

They also offer the  Tackroom Alarm, which is a simple hardwired tackroom alarm with a built-in keypad for arming and disarming, a switch to select silent operation if required, and an external siren to provide a powerful deterrent. Supplied with magnetic contacts for two doors, so one can be used on the lower-half of a stable door. No mains power required, as the alarm runs on its own internal batteries.

Finally as mentioned a few times above insurance. You can usually add on your tack to your horses policy, however check the stipulations very carefully as some companies do not replace like for like, and some also require the purchase receipts, again check the incidences which could occur where your tack may not be covered, or you may have to pay an extra excess, for example someone leaving the door unlocked/open. Again also check that your tack is covered at shows, and if so, what are the clauses- must it be locked in your car? or is a tack locker OK??

If you do not feel comfortable keeping your tack at the yard you can always take it home with you, some household policies will also cover tack, so it is worth checking with your provider there as well. If you are going to keep your tack at home we have a brilliant Travel bag that is designed to hold a full set of tack, as well as the accessories including your hat, gloves, saddlecloth, boots etc it even has a chiller pocket for keeping drinks or therapy boots cold, and comes with a removable trolley. It is perfectly designed to use for transporting all of your equipment safely and easily.

 

 

 


Every horse owner should have a vet kit to hand for emergency situations. I have a full vet kit kept in the tack room, and a pared down version on the trailer. Everyone has different ways of wound management and uses different makes and types of items. Over the years a lot of us have also developed little hacks that make life easier when dealing with injuries, for example using a nappy to poultice a hoof,mixing copper sulphate powder into hoof grease, or pouring mouthwash over the hoof to treat thrush. If you are a first time horse owner its worth speaking to other owners and finding out what their must haves and life hacks are, to help you out in future. We have compiled a list below of our veterinary kit must haves.

  • Strong, waterproof, lockable box – That you can also stand and sit on whilst administering equine first aid
  • small clean bowl for washing minor cuts and grazes
  • big bowl/buckets for washing larger guts and also soaking hooves
  • Wash such as HibiScrub
  • Salt
  • Animalintex for poulticing
  • Nappies for poulticing feet and awkward areas e.g hocks
  • Gamgee for wrapping legs
  • vetwrap – tons of it, in bright colours
  • stable bandages
  • wound powder
  • wound creme – there are many different types varieties – have a read on the bottles and speak to your vet for advice. You may find you have a few different types for different wounds and locations.
  • Wound spray – you may want this for those cuts that the horses are not going to let you get near, then you can stand at a safe distance and spray
  • Saline Solution – for cleaning eyes
  • eye cream – you can specialist equine eye creme
  • Cotton wool  – for cleaning wounds
  • Hoof pick
  • Baling twine
  • Polo’s – for bribery
  • A twitch
  • Clippers
  • Sharp scissors – A big pair and  a little pair
  • Hoof boot or bag
  • Duct Tape
  • Torch
  • Head Torch
  • plastic gloves
  • Tweezers
  • Thermometer – make sure you take your horses temperature regularly so you know what is normal for your horse
  • Pen and Paper
  • Useful numbers – yard owner, vet, transport company
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Wire cutters
  • shoe removing equipment
  • Spare headcollar
  • sudocreme

You can buy stocked first aid kits from most tack shops and online stores and then add in your go to lotions and potions yourself. Remember to regularly check your first aid kit and make sure it is still sealed, sterile and in date. Also make sure to keep lotions and potions and medicines at he correct temperature, and move them inside in the winter if needed, and store in a fridge in summer if needed It is also worth practising how to poultice a hoof and put on bandages correctly so you what to do in an emergency.