Taking care of your tack properly is well worth the investment of time. Here are some quick tips to keep your tack looking new.
Clean and Dry: Leather is a porous material made from a fibrous tissue and this is kept flexible by tallow, keratin and elastin. Leather consists of bundles of fibres and for the leather to flex these fibres need lubrication so that they slide over one another, if the natural oils are removed the fibres clump together and make it stiff and unworkable. It is therefore very important that the leather is stored clean and dry because any slight moisture can develop into mold and mildew leaving marks on the leather that will damage the leather permanently.
Protect from Heat and Dust: It is important to protect your leather from dust, as this is abrasive to the surface. Dust carries the spores that may cause mold and mildew on your leather. Using a cotton saddle cover which is snug fitting will protect your saddle and also allow it to breathe. Protection from heat will stop the leather from drying too much. Bridles can be stored in a bridle bag, towels or pillowcases. Remove and clean stirrups from your saddle and bits from your bridle and store separately.
Protect from Moisture: Leather will grow mold and mildew if left in a damp environment, it feeds on the tallow in the leather especially if the air is still and at a moderate temperature. If you decide to store your tack in a box, you can use silica gel or zeolite in the container to help absorb the moisture. It is better not to use plastic boxes.
Dry and Ventilated: If your tack room conditions are dry and well ventilated then you can store your unused tack there. Many people store their unused tack in the house, but this environment can be too hot so be careful that the conditions are right. The use of a dehumidifier in the summer and slight heat in the winter will help to maintain perfect conditions. The ideal humidity is 60F for storage. If there is too much heat this will dry the leather as it reduces the fat content by evaporation. A fan can also be useful to keep the air circulating.
Check Regularly: Once you have stored your tack away it is most important to check it regularly to ensure that it has not become dry or there is any mold developing. Clean and treat it again with a conditioning product if necessary. If you are unlucky to find that your tack has grown some mold you can treat it by using a mixture of 1 part white vinegar to 9 parts water, wipe this over the tack to remove the mold then treat again with your saddle conditioner.