From Endurance to Dressage
One of the things that I really enjoyed about endurance riding was the fact that I could clean nearly all of my tack by dropping it in a bucket of water. I realize now that it wasn't because I didn't like to clean leather, because I actually do. It was because endurance tack gets really dirty after every single ride. Depending on the distance and the soil, your tack could end up being encrusted with salt, mud, clay, sweat, and foam. It was hard to keep clean.
Now that my tack doesn't get that kind of dirty, I have discovered that I actually enjoy cleaning my bridles each afternoon. It could also be that I have finally discovered a system that works for me. Let me introduce you to Effax's Leather Cream Soap. This stuff has become my absolute favorite leather cleaner and light conditioner.
I can't claim to be a leather snob because I simply don't yet appreciate the highest quality leather. I like mine soft, but I am not willing to pay $350 for a bridle to get that buttery soft leather. And, I am far more interested in function which means that the styles I prefer (currently the Micklem bridles) don't come in that super soft leather anyway. Even so, I try my best to keep my leather as soft and healthy as possible.
Here's the system that I've been using for the last several months.
1. As I fill my feed buckets with beet pulp and top them off with water to soak, I also fill my little red bucket.
2. When I am finished with my ride, I grab the soap and brush, which are hanging from my bridle rack, and the sponge which stays in the bucket.
3. I swish my bit around in the bucket to knock off all of the foam and slobber and then give it a quick scrub with the sponge.
4. I use the brush to clean the buckle of the flash. Sydney's gets really crusty from cookie slobber.
5. Once the sponge is damp, I squirt a generous portion of the soap onto the sponge and quickly wipe it all over the headstall, rinsing the sponge and reapplying soap as needed.
6. Once I've gone over the headstall, I quickly wipe down the reins with soap as well.
7. I use the towel at the very end to remove any last traces of dirt or excess soap. Since this soap is like a lotion (no suds), it's not necessary to wash it off with water.
And that's it: my five minute system for keeping my tack super clean and soft. When I am finished, my leather feels clean and soft with no sticky residue. Once I got in the habit of doing it after every ride, it was sort of self-perpetuating. I love coming out to the barn the next day knowing that my bridle is glowing with good health and ready to use.
And seriously. It takes me five minutes to get my bridle clean and conditioned. Every month or so I like to take it apart and do a more thorough job, but even that has become super quick since my bridles are always so clean and conditioned already.
I am always looking for quick and easy tack cleaning products. What do you use?
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at Second Level. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read