Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Safe Tack & Fit

I have seen a lot of accidents over the years, and so many of them could have and would have been preventable, with proactive thought and planning. There's thinking a head and then planning a head. So I'm going to share with you some ways to plan ahead proactively. Our tack is a place we can start. Ill maintained tack, has forwarded to many opportunities, for me to see accidents, that were preventable. Clean well oiled and saddle soaped tack, gives use a chance to inspect high wear areas of our tack. Any place that leather is folded an goes around something like stirrups, over the bars of the saddle, inspect for dirt and debris, along with any iron oxidation transfer to the leather, needs cleaned and conditioned, and inspect for excessive wear or dry cracking. Keep in mind that leather has gone through a tanning process, and the hide doesn't get the nutrients it needs to stay soft like it did from the body when it was skin on the animal, so we need to help that process for the longevity of our tack. I have tack that is used everyday and some of it is 60 yrs. old. Pay particular attention to areas were the condition of the leather is dry, thin , cut, dry cracked. check places that are sewn or riveted and exposed to high wear areas, like saddle skirts, stirrup leathers, covered stirrups, skirts and sheep skin lining. Check cinch hobbles, leather cinch's front or back, English or western. Check breast collar and breast collar tugs. Check doubled and sewn leather headstalls, and reins. Try not to use brand new tack on long trips, and if you have to, check it often to make sure it's not making your horse sore. Taking time and care to do these few things will only make you and your horses life much easier and safer which can only be better.

I've talked some about the leather tack but there are other material we use like nylon webbing, wool, felt, rope material to name some. I want to keep these materials soft and clean also, along with disinfected, they can hold bacteria. Embedded with dirt and sweat it can change how these materials were intended to function, and cause hot spots, pressure spots under the saddle blanket, it can chafe a horse in the cinch area to name somethings. I use bleach at 1 cup per gal. to kill any bacteria that may be present. Keep in mind I ride a lot of horses a month, and this is something I'm pretty careful with. Being a private owner this part isn't nearly as likely. As far as cleaning these types of tack I use Woolite or ez-all like we use to wash our horses, that is horse friendly and medicated, that's pretty hard to bet.

How are tack fits is important as well. We want our saddle to fit properly. Every horse and every saddle is different. We have seven saddles that we use everyday, and we ride all types of horses from 700pds. to huge, low withered to high withered, round backed, and even good backed. Most of the time I don't have to be overly careful which saddle I use, I can make any adjustments that are required with the addition or deletion of saddle pads or types. But with the saddles I have I can pick one to fit a particular horse better. With proper saddle fit then we can move on to cinching the saddle. Leather latigo's are the only part of the leather I don't condition, I inspect them regular, and with them inspections if there is any problems I replace them no questions asked. I don't oil them, for it makes them sticky and hard to adjust, and that makes an undo just on the horse. When I'm cinching my horse, I cinch to fit the situation, and the horse I'm on at the time, and what I'm doing. If I'm on a good backed horse on the flats I'll cinch looser, if I'm going to rope something I will cinch up a little more to fit the horse I'm on and what I'm going rope. Trail riding I will will cinch up more or less, again to fit the horse and terrain. I don't want my saddle moving around to much soring my horse up. Sometimes we do more harm, then good by not cinching snug enough. This is again one of those places I've seen a multitude of preventable accidents. If your using a back cinch. Cinch it up to a soft contact, and more as it becomes necessary, like going down steep grades, roping and facing big stock. If you rope bigger stock and you know your back cinch isn't appropriately adjusted, don't face up stay faced away. Cinching Properly saves the the horse from other tack becoming ill fitting, like breast collars, martingales, cruppers and the like. This support equipment is just that support, we start over working collar tugs, cruppers and these sort of thing they can cut into a horse and maybe fail. Again preventable accident. Center your saddle on your saddle pad, try not to let the edge of the saddle pad end up under the pressure spots of the saddle and cause sores. I hope I've lent you some assistance in these areas, If you have a more specific question, feel free ask.

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