How often do you clean your tack?

Taking care of your leather goods helps them last longer.
Taking care of your leather goods helps them last longer. Image from (John Von Haas)

For many years I cleaned my tack every time I rode. As a working student in my teens, I also cleaned tack for other people. My own saddle was always immaculate as it was my most prized possession.

In my 20s I rode at an event barn where our trainer fully expected your tack to be clean and ready for inspection after every ride. The sink and bridle hanger was our “water cooler” where we all gathered after lessons to clean our tack before we left the barn.

Now, I’m not quite so diligent. And I cheat a bit. For instance, when I’m not foxhunting, I ride in a Wintec bridle. I really like the fact that I can dunk the whole thing in a water bucket after I ride and clean both bit and bridle. As for my saddle, I usually wipe it down after I ride with one of those handy tack wipes and then clean it once a week or so.

Compared to many of the 1,050 readers who responded to a poll conducted by The Horse, that’s pretty good.

Results were as follows:

  • 31.75% (335) of respondents cleaned their tack just once a year.
  • 23.41% (247) cleaned their tack monthly.
  • 21.23% (224) cleaned their tack before every horse show.
  • 20.38% (215) cleaned their tack when it looks dirty or something breaks 20.38% (215)
  • 10.31% (142) other.
  • 3.22% (34) said, I don’t clean my tack.

While I consider my own tack cleaning regime to be rather lax, I’m surprised by how many people admit to cleaning their tack so infrequently. I keep my tack clean primarily for two reasons: 1) to make it last longer and 2) to make sure it’s safe. I have a small fortune invested in my saddles and I feel an obligation to keep the leather clean and at the proper level of moisture. Plus, I don’t want to be caught out by having something break because it’s unduly worn or cracked from becoming too dry.

5 thoughts on “How often do you clean your tack?

  1. I wipe down my tack also between ‘real’ cleanings. Wipes off the sweat or dust and applies some conditioner at least.

    You can’t beat the toothbrush/plastic knife, scrub the heck out of it cleaning, followed up by a balm: says the uber clean fanatic.

    Unscented baby wipes work great for bit cleaning after every ride: non-toxic, plentiful, easily rubs crud off and can still rinse bit if you worry.

  2. The 215 who said they do it when it needs could have totally different standards for what that means…

    They didn’t leave an answer for after or before each use, weekly or daily. So, the 215 as needed respondents, and the 142 other respondents might be 357 diligent tack cleaners…it looks like the survey is skewed to make it seem people don’t clean their tack.

    Combine that with the people who clean who show, possibly weekly, then the majority could be cleaning their tack regularly.

    That’s the trouble with polls.

  3. It’s just that I’ve known at least one person who cleans her tack ‘when it looks like it needs it’ and that ended up being about once every one to two weeks, with a wipe down after every ride.

  4. Okay, very sorry to post three in a row – in Saudi we had to condition our tack more often due to the extreme dry-hot weather.

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