Good quality tack and equipment benefits both horse and rider. From keeping you safe and comfortable to enhancing training and riding, your equipment is an important part of working with your horse.
No matter the gear, it’s important to keep it in good working order. The first step to ensuring your tack is always ready to use is proper storing techniques. Cow horse and versatility trainer Mike Major offers six tips to keep things organized and functioning efficiently.
1. ALWAYS HANG BRIDLES PROPERLY.
Major says he’s a stickler for hanging bridle reins correctly with his headstalls. Make sure there’s a loop in the rein at the bottom where each rein attaches to the bit, then up and over the crown of the headstall and down the opposite side. Reins that are stored twisted and knotted will develop a bend in the leather, regardless of quality.
“With crimps and bends in your bridle reins, you don’t have the feel of your horse, and your horse can’t feel your cues as well,” Major says.
2. PROTECT SADDLE BLANKETS.
Store your saddle blankets in a protected area or in saddle pad bags, particularly if they’re show pads. Major doesn’t personally store his everyday blankets in bags, but he keeps them hung up and away from dust.
3. KEEP SADDLES ON SADDLE RACKS.
Major says to avoid storing your saddle on the ground, which can bend the leather out of shape and encourage mold due to moisture absorption. Instead, he says to keep saddles on saddle racks. Also, if your saddle is placed crooked on the saddle rack, or you store it incorrectly, it could warp and damage its rawhide-covered saddle tree.
“Your saddle might have been a really good saddle, and if you don’t put it on a rack, the tree could contract and start hurting your horse’s back,” Major says. “Make sure your saddle rack is straight and your saddle is straight on it.”
You might also consider storing your saddle with a saddle cover, although that’s not always necessary for a work saddle, says Major.
4. SECURE CINCHES.
Make sure to tie up your cinch to your saddle when not in use, says Major. This prevents it from dragging on the ground and picking up dirt and other debris.
“I’ve seen cinches get caught in cactus on the ground, and if you don’t know it, it can get on your horse and hurt him when you next tack up,” Major says. “Everything needs to be picked up so it doesn’t touch the ground accidentally.”
5. PROTECT LEATHER GOODS.
Humidity can cause leather products to mold if they’re not hung up after use, says Major. He regularly oils his bridles to keep them in good condition.
“Don’t leave your bridles lying around,” Major says. “It’s good to have them hung up, and then I’ll spray them with some neatsfoot oil to keep the mold off of them.”
6. ORGANIZE GROOMING SUPPLIES.
Major keeps a set of grooming supplies in his trailer for shows and another set at the barn at home, in tubs near the saddling area. At home, he keeps brushes separate from curry combs, and brushes are separated into stiff and soft bristles.
“I like my grooming gear to be organized to where when I reach in and grab for something, I know exactly where it’s located,” Major says. “That way I don’t have to dig through a bunch of tubs to find the correct brush.