Well ok so It’s not technically spring yet, but I have ‘spring cleaning fever’, and with both horses currently out of action (Soap is on his holidays, and Dustry is ‘off games’ at the mo’ whilst a cut on his leg heals!) I have turned my attention to my tack. I tend to only really clean my tack before competitions and after is has been used in muddy/wet conditions so this was a bit of a treat for my leather work!
Over the years I have picked up a few tips when it comes to cleaning tack, nothing ground breaking or terribly fascinating but fairly handy I think so I thought I would share them with you…
1) There’s no need to spend money on fancy tack cleaners, or degreasers a bit of washing up liquid and hot soapy water does a great job at cutting through the grease and cleaning the leather.
2) I use a lighter saddle soap on my bridle to avoid build up around buckles and keepers. I really recommend Albion solid saddle soap it smells like Aloe Vera and lasts ages. I then use a heavier leather feed on my saddle, the same stuff I use on my everyday boots and chaps. I like Ariat leather conditioner, it sinks in really nourishing the leather, and also makes the seat panel much more grippy against full seat breeches, which is very reassuring when heading out xc!
3) When you clean your stirrup leathers check the stitching! I’ve had my ‘lucky leathers’ for ages now, but did get quite a shock at one event when I went to put them up and they almost fell apart! You can get any fraying joins restitched so no need to buy new stuff. Whilst my leathers are off the saddle I also always hold them up to make sure they are even, which is a positive affirmation that I’m riding squarely, and with equal weight in both stirrups. Phew!
4) I’ve had my saddle for over 6 years now, and I love it. From the very outset when I bought it my saddler gave me a great tip he said ‘don’t ever soap the 3 girth straps because it will soften the leather and encourage them to stretch out of shape’. I use the 1st and last straps and they have only stretched a very minimal amount considering the hours of wear they have racked up.
Now with all my gear in order I feel very smug, but what are the odds that the next time to I go to use it I get caught in a rain storm and have to do this all over again?…pretty high I think!