How to Care for Horse Equipment

Good horse equipment – halters, bridles, saddles, and even grooming supplies – can be a major investment, and with the right kind of care, it will last for many years.

Some items are made of fabric or plastic and are very easy to wash, either outside in a bucket with a bit of mild soap and some cool water, or inside, in the washing machine. Leather items, especially those with lots of fancy stitching, conchos, or other decorative components, take more time and effort to maintain. With this in mind, here are some tips for keeping your horse equipment in tip-top shape.

Keeping Brushes and Grooming Supplies Clean

Keep your brushes and other grooming supplies clean, and your horse will stay cleaner while your equipment keeps its new look longer. Once or twice per year, wash your brushes with mild, soapy water, without completely soaking any wood parts. Dry clean your brushes by keeping any wood components moisturized with a dab of olive oil and periodically sprinkling the bristles with starch to absorb excess oil. Rub them clean by brushing them against a rubber curry comb.

Plastic curries and other plastic or rubber grooming supplies can be washed and disinfected in soapy water as often as is needed. The same goes for hoof picks. Just be certain that items that have been washed are completely dry before putting them away with other horse equipment.

How to Clean Girths and Saddle Pads

Clean your girth and saddle pad after every ride to prevent bacterial buildup that can cause skin problems and lead to discomfort. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning this type of horse equipment, since it may need special care.

Cleaning Leather Tack

Rinse your bit after each ride and dry it with a soft cloth. Use a dry sponge, cloth, or brush to wipe excess mud and sweat off tack before applying some saddle soap and scrubbing with a soft brush or sponge. The leather will absorb the saddle soap as you work. Any excess can be wiped off with a dry, clean cloth.

It’s a good idea to follow up with leather conditioner, since some brands of saddle soap can cause drying over time. Choose a good quality leather conditioner that is designed to restore moisture and provide protection to the leather. Wipe it on, let it sit and absorb for a while, and then use another dry cloth to wipe away any excess. Pay special attention to stitching, since any oil left on its surface can attract dirt and cause the stitches to wear out much more quickly than they would under normal circumstances.

Use silver polish on decorative elements if needed, but protect the leather underneath. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for what type of polish to use on your show equipment.

How to Clean Synthetic Horse Tack

Because they’re lightweight and comfortable, synthetic saddles and bridles are becoming more and more popular. Whatever you do, do not clean your synthetic horse equipment with saddle soap, as this can cause staining. Instead, use a clean, damp cloth to wipe away visible dirt. Purchase a bottle of synthetic saddle cleaner and use it as needed, or use some mild soap, such as Ivory dish liquid, along with warm water and a soft brush to get your saddle and synthetic tack clean. Be sure to let it dry completely before putting it away.