Although it may come as a no-brainer to most horse owners, the diligent care of your tack and equipment will result in a longer-lasting product and less money out of your pocket spent on replacements. Give your tack a two-minute once-over after every use, even if you don’t thoroughly clean it each time, for cracks in the leather, broken (or soon-to-be broken) buckles and snaps, corroding bits and metal parts, worn-out saddle pads that may be causing your horse back problems, etc. More importantly, routinely check and clean any tack that’s been sitting around unused for a while. As TheHorse.com pointed out in the 2008 article Seasonal Tack Touch-Ups, tack wears out more from neglect than use. Some experts, however, warn against oiling leather tack too often - how frequently do you oil your tack and what negative or positive outcomes have you seen? Because products vary so much, I would suggest checking with the manufacturer for suggestions on the care of a particular saddle or bridle. Check out TheHorse.com’s recent tack maintenance poll here.
If possible, I would also suggest paying for small repairs or doing them yourself rather than splurging on a replacement. For instance, iron-on jean patches are durable and easy to use for tears in blankets. And Suitability Equestrian Patterns offers patterns for making and repairing everything from horse blankets and saddle pads to fly masks and equestrian clothing. Check out the newest excerpt from Thrifty Horsekeeping’s Tack and Supplies chapter for more on equipment care and repair.