moldy tack

moldy tack

Tack that lies unused for a while, remains damp or is in storage for long periods, can often succumb to mold.  This is no reflection on your horsemanship, rather that leather is a natural substance and attractive to mold in the right conditions.  Leather is not alone; fabrics such as saddle pads, numnahs and rugs can all go the same way.

Why does mold grow?

mold likes damp conditions and minimal air flow so quite a stagnant, musty or humid environment.  Many tack rooms are cold, at a low temperature and often without windows which does little to encourage ventilation.  Sometimes tack is kept in external buildings and cabins which are not built to the same specification as human accommodation offering the perfect environment for mold to flourish.

What is the difference between mold and mildew?

Often used interchangeably, mold and mildew are different although they are both types of fungi.  The easiest way to tell them apart is by appearance.  mold is generally green or black and mildew is a white/grey colour.  Mildew likes damp fabrics whereas mold likes food: both will attack your saddlery.  A key difference between them is that mildew has a flat structure and so tends to remain fairly superficial and therefore easier to get rid of.  mold, however, can penetrate deeper into the leather and is harder to shift.

Top tips for the best way to keep your tack room fresh and dry

Top tips for the best way to keep your tack room fresh and dry

Dealing with wet or sweaty tack

Tack that is saturated should be left to dry out naturally, this may take several days if it is thoroughly drenched.  If the tack is also very muddy, wash the mud off it first before leaving to dry.  Dried mud acts a bit like a mud pack on human skin and draws out all the natural moisture in the leather.  Store the wet saddlery well away from other dry tack, don’t be tempted to place it on or near a heater as you will dry the leather too quickly and it will become damaged.  Sweaty tack should ideally be washed over with warm water and saddle soap before it is put away in the tack room.

Once the tack is dry, clean it and feed with leather oil to replace the natural oils in the leather.  There are plenty of leather foods and balsams or you can use neatsfoot oil, this will make the leather soft and pliable and it is also protective.

Damp or wet numnahs and saddle pads

Ideally, these should be washed immediately after use to maximize the care of your horse’s skin but if they are not too dirty, then dry them in the sun or near a source of heat.  Do not leave wet or sweaty fabrics on or near the tack whilst they dry out as this can encourage mold growth.

How to deal with tack that has become moldy

Tack that is in regular use is not usually the culprit, it is saddlery that has been left for a time or has been stored that tends to develop mold.  If you find saddlery with mold on it then here is how to deal with it.

Good tack room habits

Remember, mold spores not only compromise your tack which can hit your pocket if not your safety but they are also hazardous for both human and equine health.  Good habits will ensure that any mold incursion is kept to an absolute minimum maintaining your rugs and leather goods in tip-top condition.

Featured Image Credit: THOR / flickr
In Post Image Credit: OpenClipart-Vectors / Pixabay