CARE AND CLEANING OF TACK
Shared by: ijm13762
THEORY FOR SADDLE CLUB BEGINNER GROUPS CLEANING GEAR Saddlery is expensive but if you take good care of it, it can last a very long time. Gear should be cleaned thoroughly at least once a month (or immediately after you have ridden if it is muddy or wet). This means you completely strip the gear, undoing all the buckles and cleaning each piece with saddle soap to remove all the dirt and dried sweat. Then it should all be thoroughly oiled to keep it supple and stop it from cracking. Oil also helps it to repel water. Gear which is badly looked after can be dangerous and cause accidents. Every time you ride, you should wipe your gear over with a damp or oily cloth to remove any sweat, as this can make the leather dry out and crack. Bits should also be cleaned with water after every ride as a dirty bit can cause the horse’s mouth to become sore. Never put gear down on gritty surfaces. If you have to put your saddle down, stand it on the front flaps with the cantle leaning against a wall or post with your saddle cloth behind it to prevent scratches. Never drop your saddle or leave it where the pony can stand on it as the tree can easily be broken and then the saddle cannot be used. STORAGE: Leather gets easily damaged if it gets wet or damp. Rats and mice also like to eat leather so it must be stored in a dry place away from rodents. The saddle should be put on a proper rack so that the padding does not get damaged. Bridles should be hung up by the headpiece with the reins neatly folded over the top. WHAT YOU NEED TO CLEAN GEAR: A BUCKET OF WARM WATER A SPONGE A TIN OF SADDLE SOAP A SOFT CLOTH NEATSFOOT OIL OR SIMILAR NEWSPAPER TO PROTECT THE FLOOR A HOOK OR BRACKET TO HANG BRIDLE FROM A STAND TO SIT SADDLE ON A TOWEL HOW TO CLEAN GEAR: Strip the saddle (ie take off the stirrups and girth). Put the saddle on the saddle horse or rack. Wet the sponge and wring it out so that it is just damp. Rub the sponge in the soap and, starting from the inside underneath, soap the saddle all over. If the soap foams, the sponge is too wet. Rub the soap in thoroughly all over until the leather is really clean. It is not necessary to oil the saddlery every time you clean it as oil can discolour the leather if it is used too often, but if a saddle has been really wet or the leather is cracked and dry you can oil the smooth leather (never oil suede) by rubbing the oil in with a soft cloth. Once the oil has been absorbed by the leather, it can be polished with a dry soft cloth. The girth and stirrup leathers can be cleaned the same way and replaced. Store the saddle in a clean, dry place away from rats and mice. Cleaning the bridle: Undo all the buckles and remove the bit. The bit should be put in a bucket of soapy water. All the leather should be wiped over then soaped with the saddle soap. It can then be polished with a soft cloth. Then the bridle should be put back together and stored in a dry place. THEORY FOR SADDLE CLUB INTERMEDIATE GROUPS 15/03/03 CARE AND CLEANING OF TACK Saddles, bridles and other items of tack are expensive to purchase but with proper care they will last for a very long time. Tack that is not properly looked after can deteriorate and become dangerous to use. Saddles should be put away on appropriate supports and bridles hung up in a dry, well- ventilated area. Regular cleaning helps to keep leather supple and in good condition. It also, of course, keeps the tack looking good. Tack should be cleaned every time that it is used with a more thorough clean once a week for items that are used frequently. Bits MUST be cleaned after EVERY use! The bridle does not need to be taken to pieces every time that it is cleaned. Hang the bridle up and using a damp (not soaking wet) sponge, wipe all the dirt and sweat from the leather. It is easiest to do this soon after using the bridle as dried-on sweat is much harder to remove than that which is fresh. Make sure to remove the straps from keepers and clean behind them. Once all the dirt is removed allow the leather to dry. Then take a bar of saddle soap, rub some onto a dry sponge and apply it to the leather. Rub the soap in until the leather begins to get a shine. If the sponge is too wet the leather will remain dull looking. For a special finish polish the leather with a soft, dry cloth. Hang the bridle away properly. MAKE SURE YOU KNOW HOW TO DO THIS! Saddles are cleaned in the same way, making sure that the parts under the saddle- flap do not get forgotten. Occasionally the tack will need to be conditioned with oil. It is best to take the bridle apart for this. Clean the leather first with a damp sponge, apply a light coating of a suitable oil (ask your saddler) and wait for it to be absorbed. Then apply saddle soap in the usual way. Do not use oil too often as the leather may become overly soft and limp. Remember not to oil the top surface of the saddle, as your jodhpurs will become stained! While cleaning tack keep an eye open for any cracks in the leather or worn stitching. If repairs are needed get them done straight away. Never leave saddles and bridles where horses can reach them. Some of them love to chew on leather and can cause much damage in a very short time! If you have to put a saddle down on the ground, rest the pommel on a saddlecloth, hang the girth over the cantle and lean this against the wall. Saddles that are placed directly on hard flooring can be permanently damaged.