Tack Cleaning

The How and Why Guide to Cleaning tack

Why Do We Clean Tack?

We clean tack to keep it looking nice, to check for cracked leather or frayed stitching, and to make it last longer.

Find Weak Stitching or Cracks

Tack gathers dirt, sweat, and horse slobber that can break down the leather and stitching over time.

Cleaning your tack gives you the opportunity to look for cracks, weak stitching, and breaks that need to be repaired or replaced.

It Looks Nice & Lasts Longer

Tack is expensive! Your leather and stitching will last longer when properly cared for which will save money in replacement costs over time.

The leather in clean and conditioned (oiled) saddles and bridles is more supple and easier to buckle than dry and dirty leather.

Clean tack is more attractive than dirty tack. Cleaning it keeps it looking nice and cared for.

Wait, What Is Tack?

Tack is equipment or accessories used on horses and ponies, such as saddles, stirrups, bridles, halters, reins, bits, and harnesses. When you get a horse or pony ready to perform a job or to be ridden, it is called tacking up. A room that stores tack is called a tack room.

Parts of Saddle game

Supplies Needed To Clean Tack

In addition to your saddle, bridle, or other leather items such as girths and halters, you will need a sponge, water, saddle soap and conditioner.

tack cleaning supplies

How to Clean Tack Video

Watch an expert tack cleaner show us how to clean a horse bit and saddle.

Steps to Cleaning Tack


Gather Your Supplies

  • Gather any tack you want to clean including saddles, bridles, bits, leather girths, and halters.
  • Saddle Soap & Conditioner
  • Small sponge
  • Rag (optional)
  • Water

Clean the Bit

Before you put soap in water or on sponge, soak a dirty bit in clean warm water. Use a sponge or rag to remove any gunk stuck to the bit. Do not use saddle soap on the bit, just clean warm water.


Clean the Saddle

Get the sponge wet and squeeze any excess water out. Apply a saddle soap to the sponge.

Use a circular motion to apply the soap to the saddle, starting with the seat and working your way under and around the whole saddle. Don’t forget the billets under the flap. Rinse out the sponge as it gets dirty or if you run out of soap. Put more soap on the sponge and repeat the process for the entire saddle.


Clean the Bridle

The bridle can be taken apart for a thorough cleaning, or cleaned while it is assembled for a quick wipe down after a ride. Work your way around the metal pieces, straps, and holes without leaving a sudsy residue on the leather. Rinse the sponge and reapply soap as needed.

Learn about the parts of the bridle to help you put the bridle back together.


Condition the Leather

Apply the conditioner to a dry or nearly dry sponge or rag. Apply the conditioner in a circular motion covering the entire saddle. Reapply conditioner as needed.

You do not need to rinse the sponge or rag between applications of more conditioner.

Round Sponge Bubbles

Tip from the Pros

You should NOT be able to create sudsy bubbles when you squeeze the sponge. If you can, wring out more of the water so the sponge is damp but not dripping wet.

Ready to Take the Course?

Earn Badges and Rewards While you learn about horses

Go through the lessons in this course, and practice what you learned with the free learning games. Earn achievement badges and points for each course you complete. See your name on the quiz leaderboards, and earn a certificate of accomplishment! 

Order of Tack Cleaning Game

Drag & Drop the tack cleaning tasks into the correct order.

Parts of English Saddles

Learn to name the parts of the saddle & parts of the saddle under the flap