If you want your tack to look good and last for many years, caring for it properly is essential
As a rider, you will certainly appreciate the importance of well-fitting, comfortable tack for your horse, but it’s just as important for you, too. Suitable, good-quality tack allows your horse to perform at his best but it’s vital for your own comfort and safety as well, and, as a sound investment for your horse and yourself, it pays to look after it well and appropriately.
Leather is a natural material made from animal hide, usually cow, and it has a beauty and durability that has been cherished for centuries. It’s made from a dense network of collagen fibres (which give it strength and resilience) and it’s produced from raw hides by the tanning process, which uses tannins to chemically alter the protein structure, thereby stabilising the collagen fibres and preventing decay.
Leather has two layers – the top grain, which is the durable outer layer, and the split, which is the lower, more delicate one. produces four leather types.
- Full-grain leather is the highest quality, made from the top layer of the hide. It’s tough, durable and develops a unique patina over time.
- Still of high quality is top-grain leather, which is less rugged than full grain and often used in premium saddles.
- Split leather is lower quality and less durable, so it’s often used in products that will not be subjected to high levels of wear.
- Nubuck and suede are similar, made from top grain and split respectively. They are treated to have a soft, velvety surface texture.
Whichever leather type you use, proper care is essential to keep it looking good and feeling comfortable. It’s also important to prevent drying, cracking and other damage occurring, which would have implications for your safety when riding.
Care and attention
So, how should you clean and care for your tack to ensure it continues to look good and do its job well? There are various stages to the process, and Carr & Day & Martin has a product to help with each one.
- Cleaning is the first step for removing dirt, dust, grease and sweat. It’s essential to do this regularly to prevent rubbing between the different parts of the tack and also on the horse’s skin. Carr & Day & Martin has a number of products for this task, including the Belvoir Step 1 Tack Cleaner Spray and the Belvoir Tack cleaner Mitts, which make dirt removal an easy job.
- Conditioning is done after cleaning and it’s crucial for replacing the natural oils in leather that are lost over time. Carr & Day & Martin’s Belvoir Tack Conditioning Spray and its Conditioning Bar Soap keep leather soft and supple, preventing dryness and cracking.
- Sometimes, more intensive conditioning is needed – for example, on heavily used or older leather. Carr & Day & Martin’s Belvoir Leather Balsam Intensive Conditioner, Vanner & Prest’s Neatsfoot Oil and Carr’s Leather Oil have excellent penetration to maintain leather’s longevity. A word of warning, though. Take care not to over-condition, as this can make the leather too soft and prone to damage.
- Even if tack is not in use, protecting it is also very important when it’s being stored. Carr & Day & Martin’s Ko_Cho_Line is a thick, pink grease that can be used both to protect leather while being stored and as an intensive conditioner for reviving tired or dry items coming out of storage. As it won’t cause rotting, it’s safe to use on stitching and can even be applied to metal fixtures to prevent rusting.
It’s important to see your leather tack as an investment, not only in terms of money but also beauty and comfort. With a little effort and help from Carr & Day & Martin’s specialist products, you’ll enjoy your tack and the safety it gives you for many years to come.
For details of Carr & Day & Martin products, visit carrdaymartin.com