A full-scale safety check of your tack before each ride is ideal, but it’s not always possible. At a minimum, take a good look at the following locations as you tack up. If you find any significant problems, swap out equipment or postpone your ride until the issue is fixed.
• Straps and billets that secure cinches and girths. Cracked leather or stretched holes are an indication of weakness that could lead to failure and possible catastrophe during a ride.
• Stirrup leathers. Worn, stretched or otherwise damaged leathers are at risk of giving way.
• Locations where metal and leather meet. Places where buckles and bits connect with leather tend to wear quickly. Any significant damage is cause for concern.
• Hook studs and Chicago screws. Just like buckles, these pieces of hardware hold your strap tack together. Give them a solid wiggle as you tack up to ensure they are still holding tightly.
[For your bookshelf: Horse Tack and Saddlery: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Riding Equipment.]
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This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #466, July 2016.