During the summer of 2015, when the heat was stifling and it was about 100 degrees out, I met Tiffany Donnelly at a horse show. Tiffany owns Equus Couture, an amazing equestrian boutique (yay woman owned small businesses!) specializing in custom embellished tack. She’s a true artist, bringing each and every horse (and dog) owners dreams to life. Tiffany is awesome and we’ve stayed in touch ever since, and it’s clear she is an expert when it comes to both leather and embellishments!
We have invited Tiffany to share her expertise on how to best care for embellished tack. And a little shout out to Tiffany’s business, Equus Couture - please check out her wonderful work here. Thank you Tiffany for sharing your knowledge with us!
How to care for embellished tack in 3 simple stepsWe all know that tack takes a lot of abuse; horses sweat and barns have dirt! When using embellished tack, you are essentially subjecting jewelry to this harsh environment. There truly is no magic trick to care for your embellished tack; we promise it’s easier than it sounds. Follow these three simple steps and you will be golden!
1. Maintain the integrity of your leather
Let’s face it, you invest a lot of money in your tack, so you need to care for it as such. I think we are programmed incorrectly from the very beginning in terms of leather care. For the love of all things sacred, DO NOT use saddle soap! It will only dry out your leather. If you keep up with the following routine, we promise your tack will be pristine and hydrated!
Ideally, you should do this after EVERY ride. We realize while many of us have the best of intentions, this is not always possible, so stick to the following as often as you can possibly manage.
A simple wipe down with a wet rag will not only cleanse your leather of all the dirt and sweat that are inevitable, but it will restore your crystals to their original brilliant sparkle as well! A thorough wipe down with a damp rag is ridiculously simple, quick, and effective! You can be as rigorous as you’d like on the leather to remove any built up dirt, but when wiping any embellishments (metals or crystals) please be very gentle! Treat the embellished portion of your tack as you would fine jewelry. The damp rag will remove any sweat and dirt that is clouding your crystals and restore them to their brilliant shine!
Once you have thoroughly cleaned your leather with the damp rag, we recommend conditioning your leather with The Simple Equine's Love My Leather Balsam, (it is the official leather conditioner of Equus Couture! Did we mention how AMAZING it smells?). Be careful to condition around the embellishments and not necessarily on them, or you will cloud up your crystals again, making double work for yourself. Then simply allow your tack to hang somewhere to dry.
There is literally no magic involved in maintaining the integrity of your leather. I think it is far simpler than we all think. Water and conditioner will keep your leather clean and hydrated, while the damp rag will remove any dirt or sweat that is clouding up your crystals. It’s amazing what a little cleaning will do to restore your tack to its original sparkle. If you can keep up with this routine after every ride, you won’t experience build up. This will cut your cleaning time down tremendously!
2. Do not let your horse abuse your tack
The biggest faux pas when it comes to any kind of embellished tack, is - do not let your horse rub while wearing the tack! Do not let them rub on the wall, the gate, you, or anything else! Any time you let them rub (which is just plain bad behavior), you are compromising the integrity of your embellished tack. If they are allowed to do this, you will likely pop a crystal or tear off a metal piece in the process. Teach your horse patience - to be attentive to you - as you stand with them or while you are removing the tack. Remember, you are their leader. Don’t tolerate bad behavior that could ruin your tack. You paid a lot of money for it and it is your job to protect it.
3. Store your tack in a dry, safe place
You can care for your leather all you want, but if you are not storing it in a safe and dry place, it will all be for naught. Make sure it is dry to prevent mold and safe to prevent someone or something else from damaging your tack and causing your embellishments to fall off.
Basically, just be sensible with your tack. Be vigilant in protecting it and be smart about where you store it. There are no unicorns or stardust; it is very simple to protect your tack so it will stay brilliant for years!