Thanks to Hilary [Equestrian Art Hart] for another awesome blog hop topic! Growing up, I hardly ever cleaned tack except for prior to horse shows and all I used was plain old saddle soap. Over the years I learned a little bit more about cleaning tack and tried a few products that friends had lying around, like Horseman’s One Step and Leather Therapy. But it wasn’t until I started riding with my current trainer that I got a real education in cleaning and taking care of tack. Rule #1 at Brookside Farm is clean your tack after every ride, especially if it isn’t yours. And so help you if you show up to a lesson with grimy, gross leather. Ever since then, I’ve found cleaning tack to be cathartic, and I take a lot of pride in my really nice stuff looking really nice. So here’s my tack cleaning routine:
#1 Wipe down bit
I use plain old water and a rag to wipe my bit down after every ride. Every once in a while I’ll use Horse Armour Flavored Bit Wipes, but usually only during the winter when I’m too lazy to go fill a bucket of water. I also use just plain water to wipe down my rubber Professional Choice girth every few rides.
#2 Soap Suds
I’ve tried a few different kinds of soap, but by far my favorite is Higher Standards Leather Care. I know it’s kind of in a fad phase right now, but the proof is in the pudding. Nothing makes the chore of rubbing off dried sweat from my reins as easy as this stuff, plus is smells like a spa. I’ve yet to encounter grime that can’t be easily wiped away with this stuff, and it won’t give your arms a workout [but maybe you like that?]. I try to clean my bridle and martingale a few times a week, as well as a very light cleaning of my tall boots.
I used to not be very into conditioning my tack; if it was stiff, I’d just go straight to oil. But that’s because I never used a really good conditioner before. I got Prestige Leather Balm free with my new saddle, and it’s heavenly. It’s a cream, which I find that this consistency doesn’t take long to sink in, never leaves a residue and is very easy to work with. This stuff softened up some of the cheapest leather I own in just two sessions; it’s amazing.
While I never, ever oil anything calfskin [like my saddle, stirrup leathers or tall boots], I do occasionally oil my bridle, martingale and various other leather goods. For this, I honestly use plain old neatsfoot oil; a light coating using a sponge or paintbrush, or for a deep oil I will dung it in a bucket and let the leather sit for a few hours.
Is my cleaning routine ground-breaking? Nope, absolutely not! But it is effective, and I highly recommend the products I use. Make sure to join in on the latest Equestrian At Hart Blog Hop!