Are you a passionate equestrian who wants to ensure that your beloved tack stands the test of time? Look no further! We've got the ultimate guide to caring for your equestrian gear, where we'll spill all the secrets on increasing its longevity and saving you some hard-earned bucks. Whether you're a seasoned rider or just starting out, this blog post is packed with essential tips, tricks, and expert advice to keep your equipment in top-notch condition.
Introduction to Equestrian Gear Care
As an equestrian, taking care of your riding gear is essential for not only the longevity of your equipment but also for your safety and comfort while riding. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced rider, understanding the proper care and maintenance of your equestrian gear is crucial for its durability and performance.
In this section, we will discuss the basics of equestrian gear care, including cleaning, storage, and common maintenance practices. By following these simple steps, you can increase the lifespan of your equipment and save money in the long run by avoiding frequent replacements.
Why Proper Care is Important
As horseback riding involves physical exertion and exposure to the elements, it is essential to give your gear the attention it deserves. Neglecting proper care can not only lead to a reduced lifespan of your equipment but also pose safety risks for both you and your horse.
One of the reasons why proper care is important for equestrian gear is its expensive nature. Horseback riding equipment such as saddles, bridles, boots, and helmets can be quite costly investments. Therefore, taking good care of them can save you from frequent replacements or repairs in the long run.
Another reason to diligently care for your equestrian gear is hygiene. As horses are prone to sweat and dirt buildup during rides, their gear can easily become breeding grounds for bacteria and fungi if not cleaned properly. This can lead to skin irritations or infections for both you and your horse. By regularly cleaning and disinfecting your equipment, you ensure a safer and more hygienic experience for both yourself and your equine partner.
Additionally, proper maintenance of equestrian gear guarantees safety while riding. Worn out or damaged equipment can put you at risk of accidents or injuries while on horseback. For instance, a worn down rein could snap mid-ride causing loss of control over the horse and consequently an accident. Hence, it is vital to routinely inspect and replace any damaged or worn-out parts of your gear before they escalate into potential hazards.
Moreover, caring for your equestrian gear shows respect towards the sport and itself and the horse. By being diligent in maintaining your gear, you not only increase its lifespan but also uphold the standards of horsemanship.
Cleaning and Maintaining Your Tack:
Cleaning and maintaining your tack is an essential part of caring for your equestrian gear. Not only does it help to keep your equipment in good condition, but it also ensures the safety and comfort of both you and your horse while riding.
The first step in cleaning your tack is to remove any dirt or debris from the surface using a soft brush or cloth. This will prevent scratches or damage to the leather when applying cleaning products. Next, use a damp cloth with warm water to wipe down the entire surface of the tack, paying special attention to areas where sweat or grime may have accumulated and built up.
Once all visible dirt has been removed, it's time to apply a leather cleaner specifically designed for equestrian gear. Avoid using harsh chemicals or household cleaners as they dry out the leather by stripping away natural oils and causing damage to the leather over time. Apply a small amount of cleaner onto a clean cloth and gently rub it into the leather in circular motions. Be sure to cover all surfaces including under flaps and inside holes. Use another clean cloth to wipe away and buff in any excess product. It's important not to leave any residue behind as this can lead to sticky or slippery spots on your tack when dry.
In addition to regular cleaning, it's crucial to condition your tack at least once every few weeks. Leather conditioner helps replace lost oils that are essential for keeping leather supple and preventing cracking over time. Apply conditioner liberally onto a clean, dry cloth and massage it into all surfaces of your tack using gentle circular motions.
Allowing the conditioner some time (around 30 minutes)to soak in before wiping off any excess. A well-conditioned leather tack will not only look and feel better, but it will also be more resistant to wear and tear.
Storing Your Gear:
Storing your equestrian gear properly is crucial for maintaining its quality and prolonging its lifespan. Whether you have a small collection of equipment or a large array of riding gear, following proper storage techniques will not only save you money in the long run but also ensure that your gear is always ready to use when needed.
1. Clean and Dry
The first step to storing your gear is to make sure it is clean and completely dry. Any dirt, sweat, or moisture left on the gear can lead to mold growth and deterioration over time. Use a soft brush or damp cloth to remove any visible dirt or dust from saddles, bridles, boots, and other leather equipment. For fabric items such as saddle pads and ear bonnets, wash them according to the manufacturer's instructions.
2. Proper Storage Location
When choosing a location to store your gear, consider factors such as temperature, humidity levels, and exposure to sunlight. Ideally, your storage area should be cool (around 18 degrees celcius or 65 degrees Fahrenheit) with low humidity levels (between 40-50%). Exposure to direct sunlight can fade colours and cause materials like leather to deteriorate faster.
3. Use Breathable Covers
To protect your equiptment from dust and dirt, use breathable covers such as fleece rather than plastic. Plastic can trap moisture and promote mold growth, leading to damage over time. Make sure the covers fit properly without putting too much pressure on the equipment. To protect your saddle from the dirt and scratches from your stirrups, check out our stirrup covers.
4. Regularly Check Your Gear
It's important to regularly check on your stored gear, especially during periods of high humidity or temperature changes. This will allow you to catch any issues early on and prevent further damage.
Looking after your Blazing Browband items:
Browbands - To ensure the pattern is not disturbed, handwash as follows:
Dampen the browband by briefly submerging it in water or running it under a tap. Next, take some gentle soap (Don't use cleaning agents that contain bleach or fluorescent dyes) and softly rub it into the browband, ensuring not to disrupt the ribbon design. Then wash out the soap from the browband and then make sure it air drys fully.
Soundproof ear bonnets -
-If the bonnet hasn't been bespoked with piping, then it can be handwashed or machine washed at 30 degrees then leave it to air dry fully, do not tumble dry.
-If it has been bespoked with piping then it should only be handwashed. To handwash: submerge it in water, take some gentle soap (Don't use cleaning agents that contain bleach or fluorescent dyes), and softly rub it in. Lastly, wash out the soap from the bonnet and then make sure it air drys fully and do not tumble dry.
Saddle pads - To ensure the suede is not damaged, handwash as follows:
Firstly, remove any horse hair off the underside with a soft brush or hair removal tool. Submerge the pad in water. Next, take some gentle soap (Don't use cleaning agents that contain bleach or fluorescent dyes) and softly rub it into the pad. Then wash out the soap from the pad and make sure it air drys fully, do not tumble dry. A suede brush or fabric shaver (de-bobbler) may be beneficial to use post-wash and dry to perfect the suede.
Stirrup covers - handwash as follows:
Submerge the covers in water. Next, take some gentle soap (Don't use cleaning agents that contain bleach or fluorescent dyes) and softly rub it into the covers. Then wash out the soap from the covers and make sure they air dry fully, do not tumble dry. They are made from anti-pill fabric so should not bobble after washing.
Signs of Wear and Tear
Equestrian gear is an investment and it's important to take care of it properly in order to prolong its lifespan. However, even with proper care, all gear will eventually show signs of wear and tear. It’s essential for riders to be able to recognize these signs early on so that they can address them before they become more serious issues.
One of the most obvious signs of wear and tear is visible damage such as tears, rips, or holes in the material. These can happen from regular use or accidents. It’s important to inspect your gear regularly for any visible damage and address it immediately. Ignoring small tears or holes can lead to bigger problems down the road and ultimately shorten the lifespan of your gear or cause accidents.
Loose stitching is another common sign that your equestrian gear may need some attention. This can occur over time due to frequent use or improper storage methods. Loose stitching compromises the durability of your gear and your safety. Make sure to check all seams regularly for any loose threads and have them repaired as soon as possible.
Worn out padding or cushioning is another indication that your equestrian gear needs some TLC. The padding in helmets, saddles, etc., are designed to provide support and protection for both rider and horse. Over time, this padding can become compressed due to repeated use which can cause discomfort. If you notice that the padding on any of your gear has become flat or lumpy, it may be time for a replacement.
Pay attention to the overall fit of your equestrian gear. As gear gets older, it can lose its shape and begin to fit differently. This can lead to discomfort for both rider and horse, which can affect performance. If you notice that your gear no longer fits properly, it may be time for adjustment or replacement.
Repairing and Replacing:
Just like any other equipment, equestrian gear also requires proper maintenance to ensure its longevity. However, even with the best care, there will come a time when certain items need to be repaired or replaced. Extra important replacement and repair practices are;
Helmets are perhaps one of the most important pieces of safety equipment for any rider. As such, it is crucial to regularly check for any cracks or damages on the helmet's surface as these could compromise its ability to protect you in case of a fall. Helmets should be replaced every 3-5 years depending on usage and should ALWAYS be replaced after a significant impact.
Saddles are a significant investment for any rider, and proper maintenance is crucial to ensure their longevity. Over time, saddles may experience wear and tear, such as scratches or tears in the leather. It is important to ensure a saddler checks your saddle twice a year. A saddler will efficiently be able to repair any damages and ensure your saddle still fits your horse's shape. Additionally, regular cleaning and conditioning of your saddle will help prevent these damages from occurring.