So…by now everyone is well aware of the term ‘social distancing’ and we all are cleaning our hands multiple times a day, but have you ever thought about what you can do to make your barn and horse’s area scrupulously clean once we can start to relax the rules and get back to some riding?
Of course it stands to reason, that by now, you should have dedicated tack for each of your horses and definitely not be sharing any school tack with others. It also might be a good idea to invest in a tack bucket or trunk with a lockable lid so that you can keep your items clean and stored out of common areas.
Inside your horse's stall, start by vacuuming or brushing spiderwebs etc then regularly clean the walls, doors and metal areas with a non toxic solution. Even a basic wipe down can help prevent sticky surfaces that can attract microbes, so its best to have a bucket and cloth close by for cleaning and switch them out often.
Once you are back to a normal riding routine again, if you share a communal tack area, try to store your tack in a place on its own, so you can quickly and easily get to it without having to wade though a bunch of other riders’ stuff.
Remember, a large amount of tack is made from materials that can naturally harbor microbes during the best of times – neoprene is a good example of a widely used material that isn’t microbe resistant. One of the reasons Majyk Equipe decided to make all our liners from materials that are anti microbial was because we had seen studies on how microbes including bacteria, fungi and viruses can live on neoprene and other similar materials and continue to grow. If you have ever noticed a ‘funky’ smell in your horse’s boots after a while, this is likely the cause. A 2018 study by the Polish Hyperbaric Research Center 1(62)2018 found bacteria, viruses and fungi in multiple neoprene diving wetsuits - all having been transferred from skin onto the material.
When we decided to design our line seven years ago, we had the privilege of having previously made human sporting goods for leading manufacturers of world renowned sports shoes and equipment. We knew that, these companies had moved on from basic neoprene years ago and were only using the best anti microbial materials. We were lucky enough to have access to partners who helped us develop our unique anti microbial material. Many companies are still using a neoprene type of material in their horse tack or using an anti bacterial spray treatment on these same materials – unfortunately these sprays wear off with use and you are back to square one.
So although there is no better solution than regular cleaning and avoidance, if you can choose tack with anti microbial materials, this is a great choice for longevity. Once you have switched out your old neoprene tack, it’s time to take care of it. Remember to lightly hose boots after wear as much as you can, and give them a deeper cleaning at least once a month or more frequently if you ride every day. Leather tack should also be cleaned with leather cleaner designed for the purpose.
If you work at a barn with shared tack buckets, now is the time to avoid them. Microbes can easily spread among tack and you need to make sure that, even if your boots are anti microbial, they aren’t in with a lot of other boots that might be hosting a whole lot of trouble. Of course it goes without saying that feed and water buckets should be cleaned frequently too.
It’s worth noting, that even if you aren’t currently riding but are just visiting your horse, you should take care once you get home from the barn to take off your boots at the door and wash your hands thoroughly.
This situation won’t last forever, but it’s a great reminder for all of us to take these extra cleanliness precautions every time we ride. After all, doesn’t your horse deserve a clean environment to help protect him against contact dermatitis and other skin conditions that can pop up and cause damage and big vet bills? Now may be the time to do some spring cleaning and make sure that everything is ship shape for when we can all get back to our normal riding schedules.