1. Tack should really be cleaned after every time it is used. This may not be practical so after every ride ensure you rinse the bit under running water, and wash off any mud and sweat from your girth, so that it is comfortable for your pony to wear next time.
2. A bridle hook and saddle horse will help you clean efficiently. However, a blanket on a gate will provide a temporary saddle horse, and a bridle hook in the tack room will work well. Do not hang your bridle on a nail or single hook, however, as it can cause the headpiece of the bridle to crack.
3. If your saddle suffers from jockeys (tiny blobs of black grease), rub these off with a rough towel or a small pad of horsehair.
4. Girths are not always made of leather. Synthetic girths can be scrubbed with a dry brush or cleaned in a washing machine. Put them in a pillowcase to protect the machine drum from the buckles. Make sure girths are dry before using them again.
5. Numnahs and saddle cloths must be clean. Have three – one on your pony, one in the wash and a spare.
6. Talking of numnahs, check underneath yours before you clean it. Is the dirt even on both sides? If not, maybe you are not sitting evenly as you ride, or your pony may have a problem.
7. Don’t forget any other tack you might have. Boots should be cleaned after every use to prevent a build-up of sweat and dirt, which can rub. Clean martingales as you would your bridle.
8. Check your bit as you clean it, to ensure it has no sharp edges, and it not being worn.
9. Polish up your metalwork periodically. Protect the leather around it with a cloth, and only polish the bit rings, never the mouthpiece as it will taste awful.
10. Take time to check your saddle all over as you clean it. Pull on the girth straps to ensure they are secure, check the stitching, ensure the stirrup bars are working (they should always be horizontal as you ride) and that the saddle is sound.