How To Inspect Horse Tack for Safety
Unfortunately, horse tack won’t last forever, no matter how well you take care of it. After excessive use, you’ll need to replace your horse equipment to keep yourself and your horse safe. Failing to do so could severely injure your horse and put you at risk of certain dangers, such as falling. For beginner riders, understanding when to replace your equipment can be a struggle.
Sometimes, your equipment needs replacing, while at other times, it is merely malfunctioning and needs adjusting. Whether replacing or adjusting is the solution, you should inspect your tack every time you plan to ride to get to the bottom of any problems and ensure a safe ride. Use this guide to understand how to inspect horse tack for safety.
For western riders, make sure the cinch strap on your saddle isn’t worn or thinning. When a leather strap of any kind wears or thins, it means it has been stretched beyond what it can handle. Always replace weak leather because it is no longer reliable. The cinch strap should also still have a firm attachment to the ring of the saddle. Otherwise, it will need replacing.
Also, take a look at the underside of the entire saddle before riding. Ensure all the staples or nails are holding the fleece in place securely and that none are poking out. When they do poke out, it can make riding uncomfortable for the horse.
Blankets and Sheets
Sheets and blankets are intended to keep your horse warm in cold temperatures. Unfortunately, improper care of your sheets and blankets or using an old blanket can put your horse in danger. Always double-check that there is no fraying, rips, or holes in the sheet or blanket that you intend to use for riding. Such damages will make it easy for the horse to get caught on objects such as fence posts or become tangled up with the rider.
Functioning straps are highly important as well. If the strap on your horse’s blanket isn’t working correctly, it can also cause them to get caught on objects or create a greater chance of tripping and falling.
Halters and Leads
Halters must be in tip-top shape for a safe ride, and they must fit your horse comfortably. First and foremost, make sure the leather is sturdy. Cracked or weak leather is a sign that you should replace your horse tack before riding.
If you ignore this sign, the cracked leather can eventually break off, which creates a hazard while riding. If the cracked, worn leather is near a buckle hole, it could compromise the entire halter’s performance.
While it may sound obvious by now, fraying and wear on your lead rope will weaken it and make your ability to lead your horse more difficult. If you notice any fraying, it’s time to repair your lead rope or replace it altogether.
An intact bridle is critical to your horse’s performance, safety, and comfort, as well as your own safety. Just like your saddle, you’ll want to check for any weak or stretched areas. These are signs that your bridle is no longer able to withstand commands or restrain your horse’s head movements. Be sure to check all metal buckles and bits for rusting as well. As these items thin, sharp pieces can end up poking your horse.
Other Tips for Horse and Tack Safety
While inspection is always necessary to ensure your tack’s utmost safety, there are some precautionary steps you can take so you, your tack, and your horse stay safe.
Keep Tack Clean
Proper care is key to keeping your tack safe. The better care you take of your tack, the longer it will last before replacements are necessary. Clean all equipment regularly with a leather-safe soap, and use a leather conditioner to keep it in good condition. You should also clean all wooden and metal components to rid them of dirt build-up and rust.
Check Proper Sizing
One of the most significant hazards with tack is not following proper sizing guidelines. The right sized saddle is essential for your safety and the safety of your horse. If your saddle is too big or too small, it becomes unsafe for you and your horse. Your balance may be off, while their posture and circulation may suffer in an attempt to adjust to an ill-fitting saddle. As young horses grow or adult horses gain or lose fat and muscle, their tack sizes can change. Look out for changes in your horse’s weight or muscle mass, as well as signs that you need to replace the saddle needs in the interest of safety.
Clean Your Horse
Just cleaning your tack won’t do the trick to keep your horse safe. A pebble, burr, splinter, or other pieces of debris could become caught under the tack and cause irritation. Irritation can not only lead to injuries such as deep cuts, but it can also create an unstable mood in your horse. Unstable moods often leading to balky behavior and horse-rider miscommunication that puts you both at risk of injury.
Watch Out for Injuries
Hopefully, before you go out for a ride, you follow this guide to ensure your equipment is safe for riding. However, after you and your horse return from your ride, you should double-check your horse for any signs of injury. Look for swelling, bruises, sores, cuts, or abrasions that may indicate poor-fitting equipment or malfunctioning piece of tack that you might not have caught during the first inspection.
Store Tack Safely
Leaving your tack out in the open or in an unsafe location can cause quicker wear and tear. After every ride, you should neatly put your tack away in a dry and safe place where it cannot be tampered with or become damaged due to environmental elements.
Before every ride, you should inspect your horse tack to help prevent accidents or injuries from occurring. Use this guide to inspect horse tack for safety to know when it’s time to replace your equipment. If you find it’s time to replace some of your essential tack items, visit Coolhorse for all your horse’s tack needs.