Are you thrilled about having another thing to clean? Probably not, and you’re not the only one. People who enjoy chores are rare, but if you’ve invested in high-quality gear for your horse, taking proper care of it is necessary.

Why?

It’ll make it last longer and feel more comfortable for both you and your horse. You’ll also prevent parts of tack from getting wear-and-tear damage and ensure your safety.

Are you unsure where to start with the cleaning and how to do it? We’ve got you covered.

When to Clean the Tack

Experienced riders and experts will tell you to clean the tack after each use.

That’s a good idea since it’s more likely that you’ll notice anything that may be wrong with the gear. You’ll find it much easier to clean, the saddle and the stirrups, for example, before the dirt and mud get stuck and impossible to get off.

But don’t get alarmed just yet. This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours cleaning the tack after each ride. A thorough cleaning can be done less frequently. It’s enough to wipe down the saddle, flap, girth, and other parts of the tack to make sure hair, dirt, sweat, and other things that may damage the gear are removed.

How often you clean your horse tack will also depend on how often you ride. If you only use it once a week or so, it’s unnecessary to disassemble and wash everything more than once a month. But if you use the gear daily, you should make sure to condition it every week.

What Tools to Use for Cleaning the Tack

Depending on what part of the tack you’re cleaning, you may need different tools to do so.

When wiping the tack after each use, you typically don’t need more than water and a tack sponge. And, of course, a bucket to hold the water if you don’t have access to a hose. Make sure the water is warm since it will make the dirt fall off more easily.

However, you may need different types of brushes, sponges, cloths, and towels on other occasions. You will also want to keep the gear off the ground when cleaning it, so ensure that you have the necessary hooks and ropes and a place to hang it, especially while it’s drying.

You may need a lot of space for cleaning all the tack. If you’ve been riding your horse through mud, then it may get particularly messy. It’d be best if you could do it outside. If necessary, get a big, old towel or a pad to put on the ground and place the clean gear on it.

Cleaning Different Materials

The type of products you’ll use to condition your tack mostly depends on the material the tack is made of. The care may vary a lot for leather, and synthetic gear, since these materials behave differently in contact with water. Always use appropriate products to prevent possible damage to the tack and prolong its life.

Leather Tack

What’s leather really? It’s skin! And as such, it requires special care. If you want to get the most out of it, there shouldn’t be any compromises on its daily cleaning. Don’t skip wiping it down after each use, and dedicate enough time to condition it more thoroughly at least once a week.

Here are a few tips.

  • Don’t use warm water on leather because it may cause dryness. Excessive dryness may lead to scratches and abrasions, which will make your tack less comfortable and secure.
  • Don’t soak the sponge in too much water. It should be damp but not completely wet.
  • To soften the leather, use glycerin soap after you’ve wiped down the dirt.
  • Try solutions and creams made specifically for maintaining leather horse tack to moisturize and clean it.
  • Check with your tack manufacturer if they recommend any specific products that will work best with the kind of gear you have.
  • When storing the saddle and other parts of the tack, try to provide the optimal temperature. Excessive cold or heat can damage leather. Also, mice and rats may try to feast on the horse tack when they don’t have enough food, so ensure that you’ve stored the tack somewhere safe.
  • Make sure you wash the cleaning tools after each cleaning session.

Synthetic Tack

Synthetic tack isn’t as sensitive as leather. You can use warm water to clean it, and you don’t need glycerin soap – any soap without aggressive ingredients will do. You can even soak smaller parts in a bucket of warm water mixed with gentle soap.

Here’s some more advice on cleaning synthetic gear.

  • Use a soft brush to remove any lingering dirt after you’ve used water to clean an item.
  • If you don’t feel like using soap, you can buy a special synthetic tack cleaner instead.
  • Instead of washing off the mud and using the soap, you can also wait for the mud to dry. Then you can use a brush to remove it and wipe down the tack with a damp cloth.
  • Check the label – you might be able to wash some of the parts in the washing machine.

Metal Parts of the Tack

Different parts of the tack can be made of brass, stainless steel, iron, etc. You can use a scrubbing brush to get the mud off and a liquid detergent, and a soft towel to collect the excess water. Also, you may want to use metal polish for brass fittings to give them a shiny look.

Don’t Forget Your Gear Either!

Your boots and other gear are essential too. Don’t let the dirt build-up, and include your riding clothes and footwear in the cleaning process. If you condition it all together, you won’t forget to wipe down your boots or helmet after each use. All in all, the key to your horse tack’s longevity is regular care and using the right products. If you do that, you’ll be able to use it for years, and it’ll stay as good as new.