Given that your tack is one of the most expensive equestrian purchases you will make, it’s vital to take care of your leatherwork to ensure its longevity.

1. If you intend to take a break from riding over winter, or icy weather prevents you from hacking out, seize the opportunity to give your leatherwork a really good clean and condition before you store it to prevent it from becoming brittle and cracking.

2. Mould can have a devastating impact on your tack, burrowing into leather fibres and reproducing. It can be impossible to completely eliminate mould from your tack room but using a specialist leather tack mould remover should get rid of any mould, prevent its re-growth and remove that distinctive mouldy odour. Do this outside to prevent any mould spores from hanging around in your tack room.

3. Fluctuating temperatures, going from below freezing to warm, can cause your leather to dry out and crack. Take time to thoroughly clean and condition your tack. Start with a soap cleaner to remove dirt and grime before using a conditioner to nourish and protect your leather.

4. Don’t be lazy by cleaning your bridle while still in one piece. Take apart the components to make sure you thoroughly remove all dirt and condition everywhere. If you’ve used your bridle on the same horse for a long time, you’ll be able to see where it goes back together by the creases at the buckle holes. But, if it’s new, you may want to count the holes and make a note so it is easier to reassemble.

5. Choose products that are multi-purpose. As you use your tack, sweat, dirt and grease will all attack your leather, causing it to crack and discolour. Opt for a conditioner which also protects your leather in the future by helping to repel oil and water-based stains. This should cut down future cleaning time too.

6. If you have old saddles, bridles, girths or martingales lurking at the back of your tack room where the leather has become hard and brittle, it may be possible to revive it by using a product especially designed for older tack. Choose a cream-like product to nourish and soften the leather. Use a re-colouring balm to touch up any fading.

7. No matter how tempting it is when you come in wet and cold from hacking out or hunting, don’t leave cleaning your tack until the following day. Remove any mud and sweat with warm water and your leather cleaner before allowing it to dry away from direct heat. 

8. Use a metal polish to clean up any buckles and rings to add a little extra sparkle to your tack if you’re entering any winter dressage competitions.

9. Hang your saddle on a saddle rack well above ground level to preserve its shape. Invest in a saddle cover to protect it from dust, debris and any accidental scratches.

10. While you’re having a good clean, it’s the perfect chance to check for any damage. While proper cleaning and conditioning will elongate the life of your tack, nothing lasts forever. Look for wear and tear, check all the stitching, and take anything which needs mending to a specialist tack repairer. It’s imperative all your tack is well looked after for your own safety and that of your horse. If your stirrup leathers, reins or girth straps snap while riding, you’re much more likely to have a fall or lose control of your horse.

Putting in some time and effort after each ride and choosing cleaning and conditioning products especially designed for your tack will make it last longer, ensure your horse is comfortable while you ride, and could even prevent a fall.

This information was provided by Saddle Clininc. Saddle Clinic is a leather care and repair specialist, providing everything the equine enthusiast needs for regular maintenance of saddles, tack and other equestrian leathers. Saddle Clinic develops, manufactures and sells a comprehensive range of products for the care, repair and restoration of equestrian leathers and tack.

The range consists of a Saddle Soap Cleaner, Saddle Soap Conditioner, Leather Revive, Leather Re-Colouring Balm and Mould Remover.