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April 05, 2017
How often do you inspect your tack? I will be the first to admit, I’m not very good at cleaning my schooling tack, so I’m clearly not very good at inspecting it with a fine-tooth comb. I (might) get to it once a week. There are others who are much better, and clean after every ride – and I’m talking soap and conditioner! For my once a week regimen, I’m usually running late, so I grab a damp towel and do a quick once-over to get off the first layer of dirt and grime.
BUT, I know how important it is. We spend a lot of money on leather strap goods – even schooling tack. So it goes without saying, we need to do a better job of caring for it.
Case in point – last weekend, as I was prepping for a horse show, I removed the stirrups from my saddle to give it a good cleaning. My good, name brand, stirrup leathers have worn through the first layer of leather in one spot, and the nylon inner-layer is showing. Not good.
I move on to scrubbing my irons. They were looking pretty dull, and needed a good shine. As I am standing at the sink scrubbing away, I pushed down on my flex stirrup to get off a mud spot, when suddenly the rubber flex joint disintegrates right in front of my eyes!
Now, I’ve been riding in these stirrups for about 10 years, and yes, rubber tends to dry-rot. But could you imagine if this critical piece of tack broke when I was going over a jump?!
You might be saying – you shouldn’t ride in the flex stirrups (so many pros/cons) but that’s neither here nor there… My point is that I should have caught this earlier. I should have known that my stirrups were on their last leg. It shouldn’t have happened the day before I left for a horse show, which left me scrambling to run out and buy a pair.
It’s time to spring clean. INSPECT those bridles. INSPECT those saddles. Don’t just do a wipe down and assume everything is OK. Check the stitching, the keepers, the buckles. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable walking into the show ring with it, it’s time to invest in a new item or get it repaired.
Give your strap goods a good soak in oil. We tend to soap or condition, but much like our own skin, the winter weather can dry out your leather. Spring is the perfect time to give a soak and put back the moisture and suppleness that has been lost.
Ironically, after my stirrup/leather incident, this video popped up in my Facebook newsfeed from Crown Sport Horses -
Could you imagine losing BOTH stirrups on cross country? Props to her, but I am willing to bet there is a groom out there who no longer has as job since they forgot to inspect a very important piece of tack…
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