Tips for buying used tack for your horse
Used horse tack is a great way to save some dollars while outfitting your horse. But how do you know if you’re getting some quality stuff? Sometimes it’s just luck, but you can set yourself up for some great new-to-you used tack with a few tips.
Know the source
- Easier said than done. I’m not a huge fan of buying saddles online, simply because they are a custom-fit situation. Bridles, pads, boots, and other horse supplies are a little easier to get right over the internet.
- If you end up shopping online, read the reviews of a potential seller, especially when it comes to quality and customer service. Sure, there may be a bad review in there, but look at the collection of reviews.
- If you prefer to shop local, you can get some hands-on time with any potential purchases. I’ll never pass up the opportunity to inspect the nitty-gritty of any used item in person. For high-dollar items like saddles, you need to check the stitching, feel the tree, and examine the leather.
- Your saddle fitter may also be an excellent source for selling and buying used tack. Saddle fitters and brand reps have the expertise to know if a saddle is safe or not! Some manufacturers have trade-in opportunities, too.
What’s the return policy?
- The return policy is the KEY to shopping for used tack and horse supplies. If purchasing online, are you paying for shipping back in the case of a return?
How to inspect the tack for quality
- Let me clarify – it may be hard to identify “quality”, but you can determine if an item has been taken care of. Neglected tack from high-end brands has low quality, despite the name and reputation.
- Is the leather soft and supple? This indicated proper cleaning and conditioning. Avoid dry, cracked, moldy, or excessively stiff leather. HOWEVER – soft and supple leather may still be weak if it’s been stretched or the cracks are hidden in folds and within buckles.
- Is the stitching intact? Some stitching will snap, and you may see missing sections of stitching. Is this a big deal around the far edges of a saddle flap where the stitches are decorative? Not really. It’s a bigger deal when the stitching is functional, actually holding pieces together.
- Does the saddle tree flex or squeak when you manipulate it? Squish it from front to back as well as side to side and listen. Sometimes squeaky saddles are just dry leather rubbing; sometimes it’s a broken tree or loose screws in the tree.
- Is it within your budget? Some sellers may be willing to negotiate pricing.
- Is there a trial period? Can you try it on your horse for a few days or weeks? Ideally, your saddle fitter can assess if the saddle fits correctly. If the fit is bad, can it be adjusted or flocked to fit your horse? And does it fit YOU? Saddles on plastic molded horses in tack shops do not give you the actual feel of the saddle until you have it on your horse.
Now go out and shop!