The TackHack's Guide to Cleaning & Conditioning Tack
As a horse owner, keeping your tack clean and in good condition not only keeps your tack looking great, but helps save money in the long run by extending its lifecycle. With so many different types of cleaning products available, it can be overwhelming to figure out the best way to clean your horse’s gear. In this article, we will cover some of the best practices for cleaning horse tack and maintaining it for years to come.
First, it is important to clean your tack regularly. After each ride, wipe down your saddle, bridle, and any other leather or synthetic gear using a damp tack sponge to remove sweat, dirt, and grime. This will prevent dirt and sweat from building up and making your tack stiff and uncomfortable for your horse. Be careful not to scratch the leather or damage any hardware; we recommend our best-selling Half Dozen Donut Tack Sponges for the job, not only because they make barn chores fun, but because they include a loofah on the back for getting grass and other gunk off of your bit!
Next, apply a small amount of saddle soap or leather cleaner to your damp sponge and rub it into the leather. Pay extra attention to areas that come into contact with your horse’s skin, such as the underside of your saddle and the noseband of your bridle. We're super fans of organic products, so we highly recommend Sterling Essentials Leather Cleaner not only because it's effective and smells like lavender essential oils, but because it is 100% organic and free from harmful chemicals.
After cleaning, rinse your tack cleaning sponge off in your tack bucket to remove excess soap. Then wipe off any excess soap or cleaner that might remain on your leather tack with your damp sponge. We are old school and highly recommend "figure-8-ing" your bridle to keep your tack looking tidy while it hangs. To do so, simply wrap your throat latch around the front of your bridle before buckling it. Then double wrap your nose band around the front of your bridle and buckle that as well. If possible, hang your saddle and bridle in a well-ventilated area to allow air to circulate and prevent mold from growing. Avoid storing your tack in direct sunlight or damp areas, as this can cause the leather to fade or become brittle.
In addition to regular cleaning, it is important to condition your leather tack to keep it supple and prevent it from cracking. We recommend applying a leather conditioner or oil to your saddle once a week or as needed, depending on how dry your tack looks. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use a product specifically designed for horse tack, as some oils and conditioners can damage the leather if used improperly. Our favorite conditioner is the Sterling Essentials Lavender Leather Conditioner. Once again, this product is all natural. We also love it's solid format for spill-free storage.
When it comes to synthetic tack, such as nylon halters and lead ropes, cleaning is relatively simple. Wipe down your synthetic gear with a damp sponge after each use to remove dirt and sweat. For more thorough cleaning, you can wash your synthetic tack in a bucket of warm water with a mild detergent or soap. Be sure to rinse it thoroughly and let it dry completely before storing.
In conclusion, cleaning and maintaining your horse tack is an essential part of horse ownership. Regular cleaning, conditioning, and storage will help to keep your gear in good condition for years to come. By following these best practices, you can enjoy your tack for years to come and ensure the safety and comfort of you and your horse during rides!