Riding is a risk sport but no more risky than many others. Accidents from tack breakages are rare but some equipment is better than others and it can be made to last longer and so save money, if you observe some simple rules.
Just as you have your car serviced regularly, so you should service your tack with the same care and regularity. In the end it is common sense to look after your tack and equipment - a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Points to consider:
Quality equals safety and British tack identified as such is a guarantee of quality. Watch out for tack which shows the Union Jack on its labelling but does not clearly state the country of origin. This tactic is sometimes used to give the impression of being made in the U.K. when it is made elsewhere.
Buy from a reputable retailer, ideally a BETA retail member. To become a BETA member they have passed a strict selection process and have agreed to work to a strict Code of Conduct. You can be sure that when you buy from a BETA retailer, or from a BETA manufacturer of tack, that they have the backing of a major equestrian organisation.
Look for the distinctive BETA Logo on shop doors, packaging, website or swing tickets. If your local equestrian retailer is a BETA member, the logo should be there for all to see.
Repair or Replace?
Whether you are using your riding equipment regularly or infrequently you should inspect it regularly. Use the times you clean it to inspect it more thoroughly and clean it every time you come back from riding particularly after strenuous exercise. Always inspect tack after an accident and if in any doubt take it to you saddler. Always repair or replace broken, worn out or badly damaged equipment.
Correct Cleaning & Maintenance Pays
Leather is a natural product which needs to be kept supple and is best treated with natural preservatives. Avoid extremes of temperature and ensure any wet leather is dried naturally at room temperature.
Check stitching regularly. Most thread used now is made of synthetic materials and will not rot, but may still wear thin after frequent use.
Buy the Right Equipment For The Job
Ensure that you buy what you need to do the job properly. A showing bridle is no good out hunting and a dressage saddle is unlikely to be the best option on a cross country course. Seek out a properly qualified retailer (look for the BETA badge) or take your instructor or an experienced friend along with you to help you select the right equipment. BETA runs a variety of training courses for their retail members on fitting and selecting equipment, and in conjunction with the Society of Master Saddlers offers retailers introductory courses on saddle fitting. BETA also publishes a guide to selecting and fitting horse rugs. Click here for further details.
Use Your Regular Supplier
Your regular supplier will be glad to help with repairs and advice on replacement where necessary. Your on-going custom is vital to their business so they will wish to retain it by offering help and assistance. Your safety is in their interest as well as your own.