ILOVE nothing more than scrolling through websites and spending way too much time in tack shops looking at the latest tack and equipment on the market for my horses.

But this obsession soon adds a good dent to the old bank account! However, in my defence, the right tack is an investment and if it is well looked after it will last a lifetime. In fact, I have a Pariani bridle given to me as a child which I still use to this day - and it was an old bridle when I got it!

Here are my top five hacks to keeping tack clean, safe and in good condition:

1 Do your research

Spend some time in the tack shops having a good look at what is available. Read trusted articles online and check out Facebook groups to see what other people have found useful - but remember every horse is an individual so what works for one might not for another.

It’s important to find out what tack and equipment is recommended by professionals such as your coach or trainer.

As a coach I spend a lot of time helping riders choose the right bridles and bits for their horses. Always use a qualified saddle-fitter who understands your needs as a rider.

The support team around you such as your coach, saddle-fitter and equine physiotherapist will work with you to help get the best fitting and longest lasting tack for you and your horse.

2 Invest in good quality tack

Having done your research you should have a clearer idea about what is suitable for your horse. This will help you to know what is available within your budget. Remember tack and equipment is an investment and will last for years if it’s looked after properly.

3 Keep things clean

I know busy people don’t always have time to clean and strip their bridles to pieces every day, but a quick wipe down after use and a thorough clean every so often will keep your tack lasting longer and keep it safer too. Check the stitching on cheekpieces and reins as well as buckles before you ride. Anywhere where leather meets metal needs to be monitored.

Cleaning and conditioning the leather with the right products will prevent tack becoming dry, brittle and stop it from snapping. If you’re like me and dirty saddlecloths are forbidden from entering the house, the public washing machines are a great place to wash saddle cloths and boots. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a washing machine in the tack room of course!

4 Use the right products

There are hundreds of tack cleaning products on the market; there are soaps, creams, liquids, sprays and balsams but it’s important to know what they do. You need a cleaner and warm water first to strip grease and dirt off the leather. Conditioners then improve the leather by nourishing it and making it supple.

Here are five things you’ll find in my tack cleaning bucket:

  • Carr, Day and Martin Step 1 Cleaner Spray and Step 2 Conditioner
  • Horseman’s One Step - this cleans and conditions
  • NAF Sheer Luxe Leather Balsam - for conditioning and adding a shine to the leather - this is amazing stuff!
  • CDM Vanner & Prest Neatsfoot Compound Oil - I have a penchant for buying secondhand tack and this oil is amazing for bringing dry and brittle unloved leather back to life!
  • Devoucoux Conditioning Mitt - this is a sheepskin mitt which I use after cleaning my tack for adding shine and buffering.
  • 5 Keep tack and equipment in the right place!

    Ideally tack should be kept in a heated, well ventilated room, out of sunlight to stop it from fading, becoming brittle and mouldy.

    Not all of us have the pleasure of having heating in our tack room, but there are some ways to get around this.

  • Dehumidifiers are easy to get, cheap and take the damp out of the air especially in winter time.
  • Electric heaters set on a timer can help take the chill out of the air
  • Keeping your saddles and bridles in a fleece-lined cover can help stop mould and damp from occurring.
  • Rugs should be washed, properly dried and aired and then stored in their bags when not in use.