Inspect Your Horse’s Tack


There’s one thing I know about horses – they will always humble you. And in the most embarrassing way possible. Are you riding with a BNT or in a very important show? These are the perfect moment for a spectacular tack fail. And you KNOW someone will catch it on camera.  


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How to inspect your horse’s tack


Tack care boils down to two things – taking care of your investment and not getting un-alived by a tack failure. Here’s something handy and time-saving – you can address both as you clean your tack every day. 


stirrup leather with lots of cracks


Look at all of these things on your tack as you clean and condition: 


  • Are the stirrup bars up or down? For safety’s sake, keep them down so the stirrup leather can escape and free you from your saddle. 


  • How’s the stitching? Frayed or disintegrating stitching is a great way to have some leather bits pop off mid-ride.  


  • Are the buckles in good working order? Smaller buckles on bridles may get worn or warped over time. And you’re opening them anyway while cleaning tack, right?  


  • Does anything squeak? Squeaky saddles are caused by one of two things usually. The tree is broken, has missing screws, or has loose screws. Or, the leather flaps are not conditioned enough, causing squeaks as your horse moves. 


  • Does the leather smell funky? Molds and mildews are usually easy to see. They look like cloudy and dusty green or white patches on leather. But, you may smell that musty aroma before you see anything. Vinegar and sunlight can take care of the mold, then clean and condition. 


  • How are the holes in your billets and bridle parts? Soft and supple leather is strong and comfortable, but it can get stretched out. Is this a super dangerous situation where something is going to snap? Maybe not? But you may end up with uneven stirrup leathers. I’d also be more concerned about billets than leathers.  


  • Is there a lot of cracking, especially where leather is folded?  This is, quite literally, a recipe for disaster.  Cracked leather is dried out on the inside and outside, and the protein bonds that hold the leather together are toast.  Time to replace any cracked parts! 

torn leather on a black dressage bridle

This crack has turned into a tear, it’s teetering on the edge of becoming a viral video.


What to do about questionable tack


This part’s easy – call your local saddle rep, if you have one. Most manufacturers have roving reps that can help with saddle fittings and simple repairs. More complex repairs may need to go back to the manufacturer. Some leather repair shops have expert saddlemakers on hand, too.  

Stay safe out there! 


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