What are your tips for buying used tack?
Whenever I’m a the gas station and see a sign for the latest lottery winning total, I always play the game - “what would I buy”???? It’s pretty much always tack. Horse stuff, blankets, coolers (my favorite horse thing ever!!), halters, everything plain and everything bling.
But enough of the champagne taste and back to my beer budget. Used tack and horse stuff is a great way to update your horse and save some dough at the same time. A few ideas on what to look out for and how to make your shopping trip productive. You can find used tack for sale at many feed and tack shops, online, at therapeutic riding centers, county fairs, and even horse shows that are hosting a tack swap. How do you get what you need?
Some things to think about when buying used horse tack and grooming stuff:
Bring your old tack along with you to compare sizes. I do this when I buy new tack, too.
Do a thorough inspection of any leather goods. An easy test is to unfold any folds and look for cracks. This means the leather is dry and compromised. Also inspect stitching. (For more details on inspecting leather you can read this awesome article.)
Damaged billets are easy to replace if needed!
Don’t compromise fit or safety for a smokin’ deal. This goes double and even triple for saddles. Even a slightly not perfectly fitting saddle can create major pain for your horse. And adding more pads is often like adding more socks to shoes that don’t fit.
Make sure you can return a saddle if it doesn’t fit. You may need to have your saddle fitter come out and see if the saddle can be fitted to your horse or if you need another size for you or width for your horse.
If you are anything like me, you will need to bring a list and stick to it. I once almost bought about 17 fancy headstalls because they all had some variation of the bling and turquoise theme. I was shopping for stirrup leathers.
Avoid the deals that you think you can resuscitate with some MAJOR TLC. If you are at a tack swap, chances are if the item is broken, old, neglected, it’s not safe for using on your horse. I won’t buy a dirty car with trash inside! It speaks to how the tack was taken care. For decorative items, resuscitate away!
Beware the bargain bin - full of amazing finds - but cracked and dried out leather has died...and doesn't deserve a place on your horse!
Have a plan for some items that may need only a tiny bit of TLC. Blankets may need some waterproofing treatments, saddle pads may need some bleaching, riding boots may need new zippers. Work that into your budget, too!
This stirrup leather has definitely seen better days - the deep cracks indicate severely dry and damaged leather. That means an unplanned dismount is in your very near future.
I would avoid buying used brushes and other grooming tools. Skin “stuff” like rain rot and other infections can be transmitted from horse to horse via grooming tools.
What’s your best tip for buying used tack and horse stuff?