Horseback riding is a great sport whether you choose to do it in an arena full of other riders, participate in games like polo, or ride the long beautiful trails by yourself. After each ride, the rider should wipe down the saddle and bridle with a sponge slightly dampened with water. Then, at least once a month, the rider should thoroughly clean the tack to ensure the longevity of the equipment and restoring its lustre. Riders should know the proper way to clean their saddles and bridles.
Assembling a Tack Cleaning Kit
Start by assembling a tack cleaning kit. Having all the supplies in one place ensures that the rider is ready to clean their kit whenever the need arises. If the rider is sharing barn space with other people, then be sure to label each supply with the rider's name. The rider should have a box or bucket that contains all their saddle and bridle cleaning supplies. A large fishing tackle box works well for this purpose. If the rider is sharing barn space, consider looking for a box that locks.
How to Clean a Saddle
The rider should take special care of their saddle on a monthly basis. Start by deeply cleaning the saddle. Next, the rider should then condition the saddle before protecting the leather.
Start by wiping the saddle with a sponge slightly dampened in water as the rider does on a daily basis. Remove all the fittings from the saddle, including the girth and stirrups. Then, use a good quality cleaner according to the manufacturer's directions. Make sure that the product does not foam as this ruins leather. If your fenders, stirrups, or billets are leather, clean them too.
The rider should then condition the saddle, as this ensures that the saddle does not crack and remains supple, and stops the saddle from making noises. Apply a high quality leather conditioner with a 3cm paintbrush to the back of the saddle as some products slightly change the colour of the leather. Rub the product in completely with their hands and then wipe off any extra product.
The last step in caring for a saddle is to protect it from future harm. Use a glycerine product to do this according to the manufacturer's directions. Regardless of the product, never allow it to foam, which can cause the leather's pores to open. If foam occurs, wipe off immediately and start again.
The last step in cleaning the saddle is to clean any silver on the saddle, including the cinch or girth ring. Before cleaning the silver, make sure that no clear top coat is present. If it is silver, then wipe it down with a silver cleaning cloth being careful that the cloth does not come in contact with the leather. Then reassemble the saddle, inspecting for any signs of wear.
How to Clean a Bridle
If you take care of a bridle, it provides years of enjoyment. The first step is to take the bridle apart. Clean, condition, and protect the leather just as the rider did for the saddle. Use the flat side of a dental pick to remove any hair and grime in any openings on the bridle as dirt in these holes can cause the bridle to rot faster. Use a silver cloth to clean any silver on the bridle, except for the bit.
Clean a Bit
The rider should never use silver polish not meant for horse bits as it can be deadly to the horse. Instead, start by bringing a pan of water to a boil on the stove. Reduce the heat to simmer and put the bit in the pan. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the bit from the water and let it cool. Once cool, use a toothbrush and toothpaste to polish the bit.
How to Buy Supplies to Clean a Saddle and Bridle
Now that the rider knows how to clean a saddle and bridle, it is necessary to create your own tack cleaning kit. The best place to get these supplies is on eBay. Just enter the supply that you need into the conveniently located search box on any eBay page. Once you see product listing, make sure to read the product descriptions carefully to get the supplies you need the most. Cleaning tack can be fun when you start with the right supplies.