Rider to Rider: What’s your best tip for keeping tack mold-free?

Practical Horseman readers share their tried-and-true methods for keeping that fuzzy monster from growing on their leather.

Keeping tack from becoming moldy can be a huge issue in certain climates and times of the year. Amy K. Dragoo/AIMMEDIA

Clean your tack regularly and store it in a dry place. At least once a year, take everything apart and do a thorough cleaning.
Michelle Dutoit, via Facebook

I keep my tack in cedar closets that I found on Craigslist and converted into tack lockers.
Sarah L. Ritter, via Facebook

I live in a very humid climate, so I recently invested in a Thorowgood synthetic saddle. I love it.
Claire Cash, via Facebook

I keep damp saddle pads and girths out of the tack room and let them dry out before they get in contact with the saddles. I keep my spare tack and saddles that aren’t synthetic or used every day in a trailer tack room. The room doesn’t seem to get damp and sunlight comes in from the windows. It has been successful in keeping mold off my tack for long stretches of time because they seem to be saved from the humidity.
Kim Elder, via Facebook

Use good leather tack, wash and condition religiously after every ride, and store in climate controlled conditions, i.e. an air-conditioned tack room and not the horse trailer.
Kathy Viele, via Facebook

I moved to New Mexico. Because it’s the desert, there is no mold. The only problem is keeping leather oiled up. I regularly oil with glycerin as a finish layer.
Lena Lopatina, New Mexico

Ach, I’ll make it easy. Don’t keep tack in Ireland!
Dianna Robin Dennis, via Facebook

DampRid in the tack boxes and I save all of the little silicon packs from store bought items like shoes, purses, etc., and place them in the bottom of my bridle- and saddlebags.
Tracy Bright, via Facebook

1. Don’t buy poor-quality tack. It’s been processed in a way that seems to make it easier for mold, mildew and dry rot to take hold. This is purely based on my own personal observation, by the way.
2. Don’t be afraid to use lots of soap and water to clean your tack!! You’ve got to get all that sweaty cruddy organic dirty gunk out of your tack, and water will not destroy your leather, so long as you dry it out properly and oil it when it’s about 98 percent dry. Kind of like caring for wicker, I have an opinion that leather needs a certain amount of correctly used clean water every so often. But do not forget to also finish up with a final round; using lots of a nice saddle soap like Fiebing after you get the crud out. And again, dry it slowly with utmost care in the least humid place you can, and again, oil it well.
3. Clean your tack regularly, and use clean rags, clean sponges, and clean water. Dry it off with a soft towel after. I see people use all manner of grungy rags when they clean their leather.
4. Clean with lots of soap and use a boatload of good-quality oil on your tack before you use your recently purchased tack (new or used). When I got my first nice saddle in the mid 80s, my trainer made sure it fit my horse, then sent me off with a couple quarts of Blue Ribbon Saddle Oil and told me to oil it (topside and underside) until it stopped squeaking. It soaked up almost 2 quart of oil, but I had that saddle 25 years and kept it in lots of weird places and it never got moldy. And it never squeaked. And I sold it a couple of years ago for darn near what I paid for it.
5. Keep your tack off the ground, esp. if your tack room has a concrete floor.
6. If it gets impossibly humid, take your tack home with you. I never had to do that with my frequently used tack, despite living in the fairly humid lower Midwest, but anything not in current rotation should be kept in a climate controlled situation.
7. If you notice a little teeny tiny patch of mold… clean it!
Tack should be an investment. If you don’t have the time or inclination to correctly manage your leather tack, go for the Wintec/Biothane.
Julia Jensen, Indiana

Read more answers to this question in the October 2012 issue of Practical Horseman magazine.

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