Horse tack is generally expensive but is seen by horse owners as a long term investment. Tack can remain in good condition and be serviceable for many years if it is cared for properly. Caring for tack does not just involve keeping it clean, it means storing it properly too.
Ideally tack should be stored in a clean, dry environment free from dust, direct sunlight and vermin. Practically however, this is often not possible. Tack made from synthetic materials is generally less susceptible to environmental conditions than leather tack but it tends to wear more quickly too.
All tack should be cleaned after every use to remove surface grime. If grime is allowed to build up it can break down stitching and reduce the life of the tack.
If plated metals are not cleaned and dried thoroughly the plating can flake off and expose the underlying metal to rust. Grime build up also stiffens clips and buckles making them difficult to operate.
Saddles should be stored on saddle racks not left on the ground where they risk damage to the tree and deterioration from damp conditions. A saddle rack also helps to prevent kinking and curling of saddle flaps.
Dust covers need to be placed over saddles. You don't have to pay for expensive saddle covers, an old sheet or towel will serve the same purpose.
A cheap plastic clothes rack is a good way to organize all your saddle cloths. Other tack should be stored in a dust proof container or bag.
Special requirements for leather tack
It is very important not to let leather get soaked or, at the other extreme, dry out. While there are products that can help restore damaged leather it is better to keep it in good condition from the start.
If your saddle and bridle get wet when riding in the rain make sure they are completely dry before putting them away.
Erect your saddle rack in the coolest and driest part of the tack room and check the saddle regularly for mold if you live in an area of high humidity. Sustained direct sunlight and heat can cause leather to dry out and crack, so don't store your saddle under a window.
Don't use bridle hooks to hang leather bridles as the weight of the bit will cause the leather to stretch. Mice will also see a line of leather bridles hanging along the wall as an invitation to a feast. You can keep your leather bridle looking and feeling like new by storing it in an old pillow cover when it is not in use.
Cleaning and conditioning leather tack should be part of a normal maintenance routine. If however, the tack is to be stored for a long period of time special conditioners need to be applied.
Following these basics for storage will ensure your investment is protected, your tack looks good and you will get many years of service from your riding equipment.