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.