How to Care, Fit and Display Miniature Tack

Written By Caroline Hodges 

Fitting miniature tack to your model is vital, particularly in the Live Show ring where judges will be scrutinizing your set up looking for poorly fitting tack which will lower your placing considerably.  If you are making tack yourself take a look at the tips below.  When ordering miniature tack from a tack-maker, always specify which model you want the set to fit.  They may ask for measurements if they do not have the mould you have, or even ask you to send the model to them to have the tack fitted perfectly, but this can be expensive, especially if you’re sending a heavy traditional sized resin abroad! 
· Cheek pieces on bridles should NEVER be in contact with the eyes of your model.  Can you imagine the effect this would have on a live horse in reality?
· Noseband’s should also be checked very carefully.  On a real horse, placing the noseband in the wrong place can interfere with breathing.  Though your model is in no danger of keeling over, you must pay heed to the proper position of the noseband if you want to get anywhere in the show ring. 

A Correctly Fitting Halter

Caring For Your Miniature TackA good quality piece of miniature tack should last you many years, but only if it is as well looked after as a real saddle.  Remember that miniature leather tack is fragile and should never be bought or used as a toy.  Customised miniature tack is expensive.  There is no getting around this, parts are expensive and the time that goes into producing one saddle for example can be up to and beyond 24 hours in some cases.  Therefore, you do not want to receive your brand new saddle and then treat it roughly and wonder why it breaks!  Here are a few tips for caring for and displaying your model tack.· Never ever tug on straps and buckles – if it’s not tightening, it’s not going to tighten!
· Some buckles are so small that it is impossible to use fingers to put on your tack – Stablemate scale items for example.  In this case, I use the end of a needle (not the sharp end) to poke the leather strap through the buckle.  You can also use needle-nose pliers or tweezers, but be very careful these don’t make contact with your models paintwork!
· After a Live Show, you’re tired and want to get home and show off all your ribbons and trophies…. But… like with real horses, always untack your models and make sure all sticky wax is cleaned off of both horse and tack – you can do this with a fingernail or some warm water. 
· Miniature leather saddles can be oiled just like real saddles!  It will certainly extend the life of your tack and keep it looking smart.  Always check that the product you want to use is suitable for the leather on your saddle – if you’re not sure, don’t try it!  Naturally you should never oil rough suedes, only smoother leather.  Also take care that you do not accidentally oil the hardware on your tack.  These should be polished with a cloth and in extreme cases a metal cleaner, but I don’t recommend this as it is difficult to use on such small items without making contact with the leather.  And leather hates metal cleaner! 

A Nicely Fitted Western Saddle Set

Displaying Your Miniature Tack· When displaying your tack for long periods of time, always check regularly that the leather is not marking your models’ paintwork.  Some things can help prevent this – always using a numnah or saddle blanket for example.  But there will always be parts of the leather that is in contact with the model – bridles, girths etc so checking regularly is vital.  I recommend only displaying tack on a model for a few days at a time at most. 
· Some people buy unpainted models to display their tack on and keep its shape when not in the show-ring.  This is a nice idea, but not everyone can afford the money or space to have “naked” models around.  If you want to maintain your saddles’ shape, try storing it on a toilet roll tube. 
· A tack room for your model tack is a great investment.  You could either buy one, or have one made.  But, failing that, you can always pack your tack away when not in use.  When doing this, I recommend storing you tack sets in separate boxes and marking them clearly with what’s inside.  Never store with other obstacles for showing such as jumps as they may scratch or tear the leather. 
· Sticky-wax is definitely the best way of keeping bits and other parts in place, but if you don’t have any but still want to get that snap to enter the upcoming Photo Show, try a little blue tack.  It works exactly the same but again, make sure this is all removed from both model and tack straight after as it can go very tacky after long periods of time and is impossible to remove.  At Live Shows, Sticky-wax is a must as it is clear and therefore looks more realistic which is what you are trying to achieve in the Live Show ring.