Ah, Spring!! Bet everyone, including me, is eager to hit the trail. Along with spring cleaning and putting away those winter blankets, don’t forget to take time to check and clean tack.
There is nothing worse than starting to tack up and having something fail like a loose Chicago screw on your bridle or worse a thinning piece of latigo. You know, the one you keep saying you ’re going to replace! Or tighten! Take also some time to check the
Remember to tighten all chicago screws, especially the ones that hold the bit on. I lost a screw when on a trail ride. Nic took me down a steep hill then at the bottom spit out the left side of the bit. Not sure how long he carried it but I’m glad he waited till we were safely at the bottom. I learned my lesson that day about checking chicago screws. Now I carry a bit of baling twine in my saddle bags in case ANYONE ELSE, including me, has a problem with their tack!
And be sure to look at the ‘back side’ of bridles. Make sure hair and sweat haven’t accumulated there which can cause pressure sores on your horse’s skin. See also this post on riding a Peruvian Paso bareback.
Take a good look at your cinches for cleanliness and make sure your connector between front and back cinch is strong. You don’t want that back cinch sliding back and turning into a bucking strap! This happened to a fellow rider. He rode the 8 seconds but had an ugly dismount. Also, back cinches should be snug to your horse’s belly – they keep a saddle from ‘flipping’ forward when going downhill and are meant to be used, not just decoration. It all comes down to proper horsemanship.
Check behind your stirrups which are up against your horse’s skin for dirt and sweat. Make sure your latigo leather isn’t thinning or tearing. Look at your conchos and “saddle strings” for strength. They’re used to tie things such as a jacket or saddle bags on your saddle and especially Hackney horses should be addresses in the right way. Flip your saddle over and feel the lining for sharp points, thin lining, matted dirt around the skirts. Take a peek at the stitching on both bridle and saddle. Be sure to pay attention to stitching when cleaning and protecting the leather. Stitching can rot from dirt and sweat so give it a good coating.
Lastly, check your horse’s saddle pad for built up dirt/sweat/hair or a broken down shape. If it does need cleaning be careful with detergents. They can easily irritate your horse’s skin. (I use horse shampoo to wash tack that can be washed and anything that goes on or against the horse.) Do this for your own personal safety and your horse’s comfort. Plus to know you will never miss a great trail ride because of something you put off. See also this post: a horse trainer’s reflections.
Happy Trails and Stay Safe!