How To Clean Horse Tack

Keeping Your Tack in The Best Shape

As daunting as it is, cleaning and maintaining your tack is a vital task for every equestrian. Clean and well-maintained tack not only ensures your horse's comfort but also enhances your riding experience and improves the longevity of your tack. But how do you clean each item in your gear and make sure they stay in top shape for longer? The Equestroom Team has some tips for you in this blog post!

1. Why do you need to clean and maintain your tack?
Imagine wearing shoes without cleaning them for weeks. Unthinkable and even disgusting, right? Similarly, your tack requires regular cleaning to remove dirt, sweat, and grime that can accumulate during your rides. Clean tack not only looks professional but also lasts longer, ensuring the safety and comfort of both you and your horse.

2. How often should you clean your tack?
The ideal cleaning frequency changes based on the usage frequency and the type of the item. Here is how often you should clean some of the most important tack pieces:
  • Saddles: Quick wipe after every few rides. Deep cleaning can be done weekly.
  • Bridles and Other Leathers: Quick wipe after every ride, and a thorough cleaning at least once a month.
  • Bits: Rinse after each ride and clean weekly.
  • Saddle Pads: Wash after several uses, depending on how much your horse sweats.
  • Protection Boots: Neoprene boots can be wiped clean after each ride, while fur ones need less frequent cleaning.
  • Polo Wraps: Clean after a few uses or if visibly dirty.
  • Stirrups: Wipe down after each ride, and give them a more thorough clean every couple of weeks.
  • Halters: Clean as needed, especially if they get muddy or dirty during turnout.

3. What supplies do you need to clean your tack?
There are many supplies you can use when it comes to cleaning tack. To keep it minimal and affordable, here are the essentials you will need to start:
  • Soft Brushes: To remove loose dirt, dust, and hair from your tack. Avoid using harsh brushes on leather as it can cause scratches.
  • Damp Cloth: To down leather surfaces before and after cleaning.
  • Leather Cleaner: We recommend investing in a quality leather cleaner to effectively remove any dirt and sweat without damaging the leather.
  • Leather Conditioner: To the leather soft and supple, preventing it from becoming brittle or cracked.
  • Bit Cleaner: If you have bits, a bit cleaner helps remove residue and ensures your horse's comfort.
  • Mild Soap: When diluted in water, mild soap is perfect for cleaning non-leather items like neoprene leg protection boots and polo wraps.
  • Sponges: To apply the leather cleaner and conditioner evenly.
  • Cloth or Towel: Handy for drying your tack after cleaning.

4. How to Clean Different Tack Items

Saddles: Begin by gently brushing away dust and dirt from the saddle using a soft brush. Pay special attention to crevices and seams. Dampen a clean cloth with water and saddle soap. Work the soap into a lather and apply it to the saddle's surface, focusing on areas with stubborn dirt. Use a soft brush to gently scrub the leather, being careful not to scratch it. Wipe off the soap with a damp cloth and repeat if necessary. After cleaning, apply a leather conditioner to keep the leather soft and supple. Let it air dry naturally, away from direct sunlight or heat sources.

Bridles and Other Leathers: Begin by disassembling the leather parts and any attachments. Dampen a cloth slightly and wipe down the leather to remove surface dirt and sweat. For areas with accumulated grime, apply a small amount of leather cleaner on a soft cloth and gently rub in circular motions. Pay attention to areas where the leather bends and creases. After cleaning, apply a leather conditioner to maintain the leather's quality and prevent cracking. Reassemble once the leather is completely dry.

Bits: Detach the bit from the bridle. Fill a bucket with warm water and allow the bit to soak for a few minutes to loosen debris. Use a soft brush or cloth to scrub the bit, paying attention to crevices and corners. For stubborn residue, apply a bit of mild soap or bit cleaner and scrub gently. Rinse the bit thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue. Dry the bit completely before reattaching it to the bridle.

Saddle Pads: For machine-washable saddle pads, remove excess hair and dirt by brushing or shaking. Follow the care instructions on the pad and wash it in a gentle cycle using a mild detergent. To hand wash delicate saddle pads, fill a basin with lukewarm water and add a small amount of mild detergent. Submerge the pad and gently rub the fabric to remove dirt. Rinse thoroughly with clean water until all detergent is removed. Squeeze out excess water and lay the pad flat to air dry.

Protection Boots and Polo Wraps:
  • Neoprene Boots: Wipe the neoprene boots with a damp cloth to remove dirt and sweat. If the boots are particularly soiled, you can use a mild soap diluted in water. Gently scrub the neoprene with a damp cloth or sponge. Rinse the boots thoroughly to ensure no soap residue remains. Let the boots air dry in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight.
  • Faux-Fur Boots: Brush off dirt and debris from the fur boots using a soft brush. If there are any stains, lightly dampen a cloth with water and mild soap. Gently blot the stained areas, taking care not to saturate the fur. Use a clean, damp cloth to wipe off the soap. Allow the boots to air dry naturally, fluffing the fur occasionally to maintain its texture.
  • Polo Wraps: Machine-washable polo wraps can be placed in a mesh laundry bag to protect them during the wash. Use a gentle cycle and a mild detergent. Ensure that the Velcro closures are secured to prevent them from sticking to other items in the wash. For hand washing, fill a basin with lukewarm water and a small amount of mild detergent. Submerge the wraps and gently rub the fabric to remove dirt. Rinse thoroughly and gently squeeze out excess water. Lay the wraps flat to air dry.

Stirrups: Wipe down the metal parts of the stirrups with a damp cloth to remove dirt and sweat. For stubborn spots, you can use a mixture of water and mild soap. Gently scrub with a soft brush or cloth, paying attention to crevices. After cleaning, dry the stirrups thoroughly to prevent rusting or corrosion.

Halters: For halters that are not leather, begin by rinsing the halter with lukewarm water to remove surface dirt. Apply a small amount of mild soap to a soft brush or cloth and gently scrub the entire halter, including the hardware. Pay attention to any stains or areas with stubborn dirt. Rinse the halter thoroughly to ensure no soap residue remains. Hang the halter to air dry in a shaded area.

Taking the time to clean and maintain your tack regularly not only enhances its longevity but also ensures the comfort and safety of both you and your horse during rides. If it is a barn chore that you don't like, you can invite barn friends to host tack cleaning parties and help each other out while chatting about horses!
Remember to follow manufacturer instructions and use appropriate cleaning products for the best results. With proper care, your tack will remain in top condition, contributing to enjoyable and successful rides.

1 comment

  • Marilea Butler

    A mildly abrasive toothpaste (not gel) is the best for cleaning bits, if you don’t get it totally rinsed it’s not a big deal and if it’s peppermint horses usually love the taste.

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