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Cleaning Horse Bits and Stirrups
 By Winniefield Park   •   4th Jul 2018   •   707 views   •   0 comments


Tack that is kept clean lasts longer and is more pleasant to use. Saddle soap, some sponges and clothes and a good leather conditioner will take care of the main parts of your saddles and bridles. But the metal fittings require a different care.

Bits
Your bit probably gets pretty grimy in a short time, especially if you’re guilty of letting your horse nibble a bit of grass or leaves while wearing it. The best time to wipe off grassy slime is right after you take it out of your horse’s mouth, so the residue doesn’t have time to dry on. If it is dried on, you may have to take it off the bridle all together and soak it in some warm water. A bit of vinegar will help get it clean and shiny. Tough dirt can be removed with a scrub brush or a scrubbing pad like you’d use on your pots and pans. You can use a paste of baking soda, but keep in mind that mixing baking soda and vinegar will result in water once the fizzing is over. Get into the tiny corners and joints with an old toothbrush. Then, rinse the bit with clear water so there is no vinegar taste left behind.

Bits with silver on them, such as those used in the western show ring may need a silver polish to make them really sparkle. Brass or copper on bits can be polished either with a store bought polish, or a mixture of salt and vinegar. In either case, make sure the polish doesn’t get on the mouth piece and that it’s rinsed well. Dip polishes that you would use on silver cutlery shouldn’t be used on horse bits. Horses may refuse the bit, or may have a reaction to the sometimes caustic ingredients in some metal cleaners.

On ‘sweet iron’ bits, don’t try to scrub the mouthpiece. These bits are meant to be ‘rusty’ and you don't want to remove that finish.

Stirrups
Metal stirrups can be cleaned much the same way as bits. If your stirrups are muddy, give them a wipe before putting your saddle away. You will probably want to remove the foot pads and give them a cleaning too. This is a good time to check them for wear as they do have to be replaced from time to time. If the tread has worn down to nothing, or they are cracked it might be time for a new pair. Don’t let metal cleaner near them either as it might not be good for the material. Stirrup covers are a good way to keep the metal from marking up your saddle flaps when you’ve run your stirrups up.

If you want to clean up your white foot pads, try putting them through the dishwasher or soaking them in a non-chlorine bleach. Hydrogen peroxide is good for removing organic stains like grass.

Spurs
Metal spurs can be washed in vinegar in water, rinsed and dried. Bring out the shine by buffing with toothpaste or metal cleaner. Rinse well.

Metal Saddle Fittings
Cleaning the fittings of your saddle can be tricky because they lie so close to the leather it hard to scrub them without touching the leather. Press-n-Seal, which has a slight adhesive or other plastic wrap can be put against the leather under D-rings and buckles. That way you don’t get cleaner on the leather. Use a soft brush, pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and cloths to shine up these small parts. This is a good time to check that all the fittings are on tight, with no worn leather or stitching. If you have silver on your saddle, work carefully with a silver polish, making sure you don’t touch the leather, which could be stained by the cleaner.
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