Your Horse Life’s Spring Clean-Mageddon: How to Clean Your Tack Locker

Experience the inner workings of a tack locker cleanup.

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How to Clean Your Tack Locker - Tack Room
Photo by Vespa/Shutterstock

Emily shares a humorous story any rider can connect with, especially if you’ve ever not wanted to clean your tack locker or tack trunk.

The afternoons are getting warmer. The humidity is turning the gray winter dust covering everything in sight into a vague slime.

You can feel the rainy, sticky hand of spring on your shoulder: “It’s time,” she whispers.

“It’s time to clean.”

One Tuesday night, you have plenty of time. No work crises. A busy spouse. But that won’t do. You need to pick another day, a day when you have 10,000 things to do, deadlines looming, and your significant other is texting, “Are you coming home tonight?”

Much better. You are officially suffocating under your personal and professional commitments. What better time to undertake an hours-long cleansing of your horse and all your belongings?

Starting Over

Before you start to clean, you take in the state of shambles that is your tack locker; two to three months of ignoring cleaning duties in the cold has led to sticky tack, disgusting saddle pads, grimy blankets and a dusty tack trunk. You seriously consider throwing everything away, switching barns and starting over. But a new identity is not in the budget. And it’s just a little crud. You can do this!

You begin by shampooing and scrubbing your surly, businesslike mare, who is positively aggrieved by the extra attention.

“I also hate this,” you assure her, as she lifts her giraffe nose and moves away from your sponge. Soap runs down your arms into your undergarments, and her tail whips you in the eyeball. But eventually she is clean, dry and munching hay.

Getting to the Bottom

Next, you empty your tack trunk. You are horrified to learn you have roughly 200 half-used tack sponges. You wipe down or shake out everything—tack cleaner, shampoo bottles, treat buckets, leather punch, saddle pads, old horse boots. You toss mysterious plastic bags and vet bill envelopes. Hordes of insects scurry away because you are ruthless, and they are afraid of your ruthlessness.

You tip over the trunk and dump out the dust, dirt and broken treats. Now you’re cooking with gas. You stab at the grungiest areas with a broom before attacking them with a rag.

At this point, you’re starting to feel bad about the spiders you’re evicting. But you’re also regretting all the times you saw them this winter and turned a blind eye, thinking, I know, spider. It’s cold. You can stay.

Grooming Brushes
Photo by Sari Oneal/Shutterstock

Bridles & Brushes

Every piece of leather in your trunk is moldy, which is a surprise because you’d forgotten you even had leather in your tack trunk. You assail the jumble of straps with mold-inhibiting tack cleaner and return them to the trunk to forget about them for another year.

Your tack is the only inanimate stuff in passable condition. But your saddle, bridle and breastplate still suffer a thorough delousing.

You throw away four sponges during this filth exorcism, which is for the best since you’ve evidently been hoarding hundreds of them for the tack cleaning apocalypse.

You feel a surge of guilt as you behold your grooming tools with fresh, spring eyes. They are undoubtedly making your horse dirtier.

You slog the brushes to the hose to assault them with soap, chewing yourself out for not doing this every week of your life like a responsible horse person. You nestle the clean brushes, picks and curries into the grooming box and feel good about yourself for several seconds. Until you see your blankets.

Kill It With Fire

Your blankets are on life support. They are but a faint suggestion of their original color. One belly strap has been gleefully ripped from its seam by your ungrateful mare. You resist the urge to light the blankets on fire. For too much money, the professional blanket cleaner conducts actual magic, and the blankets return clean, repaired and shrink-wrapped into cubes, as if winter and your horse never happened.

Your dirty saddle pads have accumulated in a wretched, smelly stack that should be destroyed. But you can’t justify all new pads, so you bitterly scrape off most of the horsehair and smuggle them into your washing machine when your spouse isn’t watching. They must be washed twice.

Now you’re ready for spring. New grass! New goals! New promises to clean your brushes regularly! You enjoy a whole four minutes of spotless bliss before your horse rolls. But she’s so cute.

This Your Horse Life column features a humorous story about how to clean your tack locker appeared in the April 2020 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!

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