In our regular column the Society of Master Saddlers look at spotting wear and tear in your saddlery and making sure your tack is in the best repair.
How many of you have been trotting along and found your leg suddenly drop due to a broken stirrup leather?
Accidents happen at the best of times with a sudden spook from your horse or a refusal at a jump but when tack fails there is often a reason!
Saddle Safety Checks
When looking at saddle safety three areas to consider are regular checks to ensure correct fit, good and thorough cleaning and checks for safety and repair.
When cleaning saddles and bridles this is the ideal time to check for any loose stitching or corrosion and it is important to get weaknesses mended, stitched and repaired immediately.
It is all too easy to be riding along and for a stirrup leather to break or become totally unstitched at the buckle but all can be prevented if checks are carried out and become part of the process for ensuring tack is safe and kept in the very best shape.
It’s surprising how many owners notice a rug getting tighter but the fact that the saddle no longer fits well completely escapes them. This is why it is very important to get saddles checked regularly.
Saddle fitting checks are an important part of horse care. Yes, they cost money. And yes, occasionally the saddle fitter may need to return quite quickly because the horse has changed shape so rapidly. This isn’t an unnecessary expense it is vital to make sure your horse is comfortable.
A saddle that is too narrow and is pinching and exerting other unwanted pressure – or too wide and pressing down and restricting the horse’s ability to use himself correctly – can result in welfare, veterinary, behavioural and performance problems. Overcoming the resulting problems could be expensive in terms of veterinary, schooling and other professional services. Meanwhile the horse has suffered totally unnecessarily.
Use the services of a Society of Master Saddlers’ qualified saddle fitter to undertake fitting checks regularly. Always have a new saddle fitted and recognise that it is at least equally importance to have a second-hand saddle fitted. SMS saddle fitters have a comprehensive knowledge of saddle brands and designs. They are aware of the rules and regulations applicable to tack and equipment used in all the equestrian disciplines and sports, and offer advice and professional services.
Mud, rain, wind and cold temperatures, our horses’ tack goes through a lot during the winter months battling the elements, not to mention the sweat produced by the horse during hard work or a morning’s hunting.
Quality leather tack is designed to withstand a lot, but with daily use the leather and stitching can become damaged, so time spent cleaning our tack is a good opportunity to inspect for wear and tear.
Very often in winter we are all guilty of cutting corners to get in a quick ride during daylight hours but with a bit of care and attention it is possible to keep our tack clean, after all, for many it has been a serious investment.
Ideally we should all clean our tack and wash off the bit every time we ride wiping off mud and grease with a damp sponge before using saddle soap taking care to make sure the underside is cleaned as well.
As often as possible give the bridle a thorough clean by completely dismantling it, cleaning and inspecting each individual piece of the bridle, taking the opportunity to also check for worn stitching
To prolong the life of your leather work, cleaning your tack should be a regular part of your routine, not only could it prevent an accident it could also save you money.
To find out more information on the Society of Master Saddlers visit www.mastersaddlers.co.uk or contact on 01449 711642.