Saddle up with pride

Keeping all tack clean is essential for the comfort of your horse and will keep both of you safer.

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It’s important to keep all tack spotlessly clean. Soft leather not only lasts longer, it’s safer for you and your horse. A dry, dirty bridle will rub against your horse and there’s a very good chance it will snap in mid-gallop, leaving you with only a prayer to steer your speeding steed!

Leather reacts very well to water, as long as the water is cool and the leather dries in the shade, and not the hot sun. In summer, when it’s hot and dry, clean your tack (any equipment used on horses) once or twice a week. In winter, when it’s cold, your tack should be cleaned twice a month.

Always store your saddle under a cover in a cool, dry room. The saddle should always be out of sunlight and heat. Place it on a rack at least 1,5m off the ground.

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Cleaning the tack
Remove the girth, stirrup leathers and numnah from the saddle. Dampen a soft sponge and rub saddle soap over your saddle a few times.

Now wash the saddle. Be sure to get into all the small cracks. Wash the flaps on both sides. Use a second soft, damp cloth to rinse the soap off the saddle.

Always be careful not to get the saddle too wet under the panels. When you’re happy, the saddle is clean, place it on a saddle rack in the shade and leave to dry. Now lay the girth and stirrup leathers on a table. Scrub both sides with a soft brush and saddle soap.

Before your saddle is completely dry, apply the oil using a piece of mutton cloth. Rub in well, then place the saddle in the sun for five minutes. With saddles made of synthetic material, follow the same routine, using the special cleaner required.

To clean the bridle you need to take it apart. Soap with a saddle soap, rinse, then let it dry a little, oil it and place in the sun for five minutes. Place the bit in a bucket with warm water and dishwashing liquid. Scrub.

The bit needs to be cleaned every day. Imagine brushing your teeth with a toothbrush covered in masticated dried old food! Reassemble your bridle and store in a cool, dark tack room.

Some tips
• Never apply oil on a dirty saddle. The dirt and dust on a saddle forms a sticky black substance, which, after a short time, becomes hard. Only a blade or scraper can remove this, often damaging your saddle.
• Don’t place your saddle on the ground; the scuff marks will permanently scratch it.
• It’s not a good idea to leave your saddle on an unattended horse. A horse gets irritated by the saddle and rolls, causing damage to itself and the saddle.
• If you’re out in the veld, a fence is not the best saddle rack. The barbs will tear the leather. Rather place the saddle on its belly over the saddle cloth.
• Never put a saddle in its cover when dirty, or damp. The panels will crack.
• Every six months ask a good saddle fitter to inspect the flocking.

Contact Kim Dyson on 082 888 6511.