Does anyone else out there love cleaning tack? No? Just me? Tack cleaning and conditioning are essential to prolong the life of your tack and also makes it soft, supple, and beautiful. I consider tack care as somewhat of an art-form, and find it therapeutic. You can call me crazy and you wouldn’t be wrong. But as with most things in life, there’s a right way to do it and a very wrong way. Here are my top 5 tips for getting the most out of your tack cleaning sesh.
1. Make sure your tack is CLEAN before using any type of oil/grease/conditioner/balm. If you leave grime and add conditioner, you’re sealing in the dirt and giving it the opportunity to cake on.
2. Repeat after me. “I will never ever soak leather in oil.” But seriously, don’t. I’ve made this mistake before and believe me – you’ll end up with limp, greasy, slimy leather that never really comes back to its normal form. If you’re using oil, I recommend using a paintbrush to brush it on and then…
3. Use your hands! Any time I use a conditioner (oil, grease, balm, etc.) I use my hands to work it in. Your body heat naturally warms both the leather and the product, which helps it penetrate the leather. You can get into all the nooks and crannies better – especially when it comes to laced reins. I like to gently work the leather to soften it up and help it break in. Using your hands also means you’re not wasting product from it being absorbed by a sponge or rag.
4. Know your leather. Calf, buffalo, and grain all have different requirements. Some types of leather are not meant to be oiled at all. Do your research and see what the brand recommends!
5. Don’t forget to check in the hidden areas, like under the knee blocks and where the seat meets the panels. Dirt loves to accumulate in these areas and will build up and get real nasty.
Regular care of your tack will help keep your equipment in tip-top shape, and don’t forget to frequently inspect your tack for any cracks, loose stitching, etc – there’s nothing scarier than a broken rein or girth! Happy tack cleaning, and as always, let me know if you have any questions!
Cover photo by Sara Shier Photography