Taking Care of Your Tack!

14 Jul
We have all been there…  You know?  That moment before a clinic or a show where you start to freak out because out tack is covered in all sorts of gunk and you need to go on a tack cleaning extravaganza. Yup.  
tack cleaningWhether you have been putting off cleaning your tack for sometime or diligently maintaining the cleanliness of your tack, here are a few of our favorite tack cleaning tips!

It’s always a good idea to at least do the minimum of wiping down your tack every time you ride.  This will not only prolong the life of your equipment but also prevent the need for a that huge, late night tack cleaning date the next time you panic before a show.  

Dirt and grime just naturally are going to build up on your tack (I mean, you’re in the barn) so taking 5 minutes after you ride to wipe off your equipment is going to save you time and money in the long run! 

So, let’s go over some tack cleaning basics:

_DSC1427The first step is to wipe or dust off any mud, dirt, dust, or grime. You can use a soft cloth , a damp sponge or a soft bristled brush to knock off the majority of build up on your saddle. This is the most important step!!

Even if it is all you have time for is knocking off the dirt and mud, leaving all that grunge on your leather will dry it out and shorten its life span significantly. Which could lead to you needing to replace it sooner!

leather stitchingBeen awhile since you cleaned your tack and you’re not sure if it’s time to replace it? We can give you some guidance on that too.  There’s nothing worse than having your tack break while you’re in the middle of a lovely ride.  Somehow that just seems to spoil the mood. Let’s inspect your tack together here.

Ok, so we have knocked off all the surface level dirt…now it’s time for some elbow grease.  There are a number of different leather cleaners that you can choose to use.  Some require water and some don’t.  You get to choose!

If the leather cleaner that you choose does need water, you’re going to need a cute heart bucketbucket to help you get the job done and prevent you from needing to run back and forth from the sink or hose a bunch of times. We like to use this bucket because it’s smaller in size making it easier to carry water while being the perfect size for tack cleaning. It’s only a bonus that it’s shaped like a heart!

Bonus, you can store all your tack cleaning supplies in it when you’re done!  Win, win!! So, go fill up your bucket and lets get started!

You’re going to need some sponges in your arsenal to help you clean your tack. For cleaning your tack it’s a good idea to have one that is a bit smaller so that it can get into the different grooves of your tack. Here are some of our favorites to get you started:

jacks spongesJack’s Tack Sponges: These little guys are the perfect size to fit in your hand and fit into the grooves of your tack. They come in a pack of 12 so you will be good to go on sponges for awhile!  I mean, who could go wrong with always having an extra sponge around?


scrubberspongeScrubber Sponge:  This sponge is a bigger sponge but it has the power of clean on one side.  This dual sided sponge has a durable sponge on one side with a scrubber on the other side. This could be a great addition if your tack is SUPER dirty but practice caution. You never want to be too abrasive with your tack.

equest round spongeEquest Round Tack Sponge: These sponges are a high-density polyester sponge that are great for both cleaning tack & bathing horses. They are machine washable, C.F.C. free and organically coloured.  This small round sponge is porous and is perfect for cleaning your leather!  They are sold individually but, they come in colors and everyone loves colors!!

puck spongeHaas Puck Sponge:  Now this one is interesting! This sponge is another small, soft, round and handy brush that is great for cleaning tack! It’s nifty “puck” shape gives you a handle to really apply the pressure and dig deep into your tack to get it squeaky clean. Its a great size and a handy sponge to have around! Guess what?  It also comes in different colors. Score!

squeezing spongeAlrighty, so now we need to choose our leather cleaner to get the job done! Now, some of these require water and some don’t!  If you are using one that requires water remember you don’t need a lot of water to get the job done!  Just dip your sponge in the water and wring it out.  The sponge only needs to be damp!!

We have a couple of favorite leather cleaners that we think you will love as much as we do:

fiebings leather soap Fiebing’s Saddle Soap : It’s a classic favorite! Grab your bucket of water and a sponge to clean and polish your tack with Fiebing’s Saddle Soap.  This soap cleans leather and lubricates the fibers to prevent brittleness, all the while maintaining suppleness and strength.

Stubben Leather Soap : There’s two types of Stubben leather soap that we really like here at VTO Saddlery!

stubben glycerineThe Stubben Glyzerin-Lederseife Tub Soap and the Stubben Leather Soap!  Let me translate some of that for you.  The Stubben Glyzerin-Lederseife Tub Soap is 250 gram of a convenient, no-mess form of glycerin leather soap in a solid form that comes in a tub with a screw-on lid. So, go grab that bucket and sponges again and get to cleaning your leather goods!

stubben leather soaThe Stubben Leather Soap is a liquid soap that is specially formulated for the cleaning of quality leather articles. Sounds fancy!! It squeezes out of a cylindrical tube and should be applied with a damp sponge.

After you clean your tack, it should be used in conjunction with Stubben Hamanol which feeds and revitalizes the leather but, we will talk more about our favorite leather conditioners in a bit!

Effax Leather Cream Soap: You can ditch the water for this soap because IT DOESN’T NEED IT!  What?!  Yeah, it’s as awesome as it sounds. This awesome cream soap has effax cream soapnatural oils and extracts such as avocado oil, coconut oil and aloe vera which cleanses and cares for saddles, bridles, boots and all other leather products. It’s pretty much as amazing as it sounds.

Simply apply with a sponge or cloth without adding water. It soaks in completely and provides the leather with all the important components which guarantee long life. It comes in a flic flac bottle with 400 mL of cream soap goodness!

Effax Leather Combi : Is the leather in your tack room looking really dirty?  Like you effax leather combihave who knows what caked on there?  Yeah…I think we have all been guilty of this at some point or another.  VTO Saddlery has your back!  You need some Effax Leather Combi in your life STAT!

Effax Leather Combi is an innovative combination of gentle cleaning and unique deep action. The grease-free solution removes even stubborn dirt and provides leather with a good grip. Thanks to the deep action, the leather becomes tear-resistant and supple. Guess what?  This one doesn’t need water either.  Are we blowing your mind yet?

leathercombi+Effax Leather Combi + Mildew Free Formula:  So take all the amazing things that we just told you about the Effax Leather Combi and then add in the fact that it contains some magical technology that prevents it from being attacked by mildew or fungi.  Now that is something that we can all appreciate!


hydrophanesoapHydrophane Glycerine Soap Spray: We all like convenient!  This leather soap uses a unique formulation of traditional ingredients with added glycerine to give a convenient and effective method of cleaning and protecting leather.


HZ_WIN_12_BS_92_93_24014_24351_BLWhile you’re cleaning your leather tack now would be a good time to give your bit a good soak! Some people find it easier to take their bit off of their bridle when they clean it so they can really get in there and clean around the buckles. If you leave it in a bucket of water to soak, it will give the gunk on your bit a chance to soften.

Now, we don’t recommend using soap on your bit.  I mean, our parent’s threatened us with putting soap in our mouths if we said anything naughty so why would be put soap in our horse’s mouths?! That could be an interesting ride.


Instead, use a cloth to wipe off your bit or better yet, use one of the Horse Amour Bit Wipes to clean it off!

These wipes not only clean and shine your bit but taste great to keep your horse wanting more every time you tack them up! Now, that sounds better than soap! Stored in a handy container, these disposable wipes stay moist and ready to use. Each canister contains 30 disposable wipes and come in a peppermint flavor…yes, much better than soap flavored.

sprengerdiamondpasteNot shiny enough for you? You can polish the parts of the bit that stay out of your horse’s mouth with bit polish. We love the Herm Sprenger’s Diamond Paste because it’s great for cleaning stainless steel, chrome, copper, brass, German Silver and Gold. The Diamond Paste is odorless and non-toxic and non acid and has tarnish protection!!

Once you have your leather nice and clean, it will need conditioning to keep the leather healthy, supple and tear resistant. So, grab a clean sponge and let’s pick out a conditioner to use. Though which conditioner you use is largely personal preference, here are a few of our favorites:

effax leather balmEffax Leatherbalm: This is big old tub of leather conditioning goodness.  Not only does it smell great but it contains lanolin, avacado oil and beeswax, which are ideal ingredients for the care and maintenance of leather articles. That sounds like a cocktail of leather conditioning success right there. It has remarkable nutritive and protecting properties, keeps the leather supple and gives it a high tear resistance! Apply liberally with a sponge, allow to soak into the leather, and watch your leather sigh with relief!

Prestige Leather Balsam: Prestige Leather Balsam, with its natural components and prestige leather balmpleasant fragrance, hydrates, provides protection from water, revitalizes colors, gives greater grip, and neutralizes the harmful action of perspiration against the leather on your saddle and tack. If applied regularly, the leather will stay supple and durable for many years to come. That doesn’t sound anything short of amazing.  I mean, who couldn’t use a bit of protection from perspiration? Even better?  It comes with it’s own application sponge.  WIN!

Effax Leather Soft: Have some really tough, stiff leather hanging around?  This will effax leather softbe for you!  The Effax Leather Soft is an exclusive leather softener with valuable caring oil additives. It makes the leather particularly supple, tear-proof and pleasant to touch. It’s suitable for all smooth leathers and contains a mixture of gentle caring oils, lanolin, avocado oil and perfume. Squirt some out on a sponge and apply to the leather, allow it to be absorbed overnight and whip off any excess. Repeat if necessary for desired results.

hydrophane leather conditionerHydrophane Leather Conditioner: This gentle, pH balanced leather conditioner contains a unique blend of waxes and oils to help preserve and condition leather items. The unique formula penetrates the leather to make it supple and water resistant. Just a heads up, it is not intended for use on suede.


beeswaxconditionerBeeswax Leather Cream: Keep your leather goods in like new condition with this all natural leather cream. This orange tub of leather conditioning goodness maintains the natural qualities of the leather while cleaning the leather and penetrating deep to revitalize. It does not leave a slippery surface as a matter of fact it’s great at helping the seat of your saddle have a bit of tackiness to it when you’re done. So, if want to stick, look no further. It is made from beeswax, lanolin, mink and avocado oils.

Many leather item manufacturers have their own conditioners recommended for use on their products. However, they will work well on any leather items you have too!

Prestige’s Leather Balsam and Leather Care Kit

prestige leather kit

Amerigo‘s (Vespucci) Soft Balm and Soft Oil


KL Select/Red Barn’s Mad Cow Leather Care

mad care leather care

Stubben’s Leather Care: Stubben Leather Soap and Stubben Hamanol

stubben leather kit

After all that work you’re going to want it to last awhile, right?

effaxmildewfreeProtect your leather goods from mildewing with the Effax Mildew Free Spray! That gem of a product prevents leather from being attacked by mildew and fungi. The mildew free solution contains fish oil, lanolin and care oil, providing nourishment to your leather. Its never fun to find green fuzzies on your tack!


lotsofsaddlesAnd congratulations!!  You got your tack all cleaned and you’re ready to show it off!! Looking good! Remember, protecting your saddle and your tack is so important so, take the time to take care of it!  It will help to keep your equipment in tip top shape which will be safer for both you and your horse.

Bonus Time!  Keeping your tack clean will also prevent you from needing to constantly be replacing your tack…that is, unless you want to and in that case head to www.vtosaddlery.com for quality tack and leather care!


One Response to “Taking Care of Your Tack!”


  1. Everything You Need for Tall Boots | vtosaddlery - August 17, 2017

    […] If you’re unsure of how to best take care of your leather, don’t you worry!  We have you covered on how to best take care of your tack in another one of our blog posts which you can read here! […]

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