I have posted many, many photos of my tack room transformations over the years that I have been running this blog/website. I honestly never get tired of organizing, and reorganizing my tack room. It makes me happy.
But beyond hanging up new saddle racks, or bridle racks, there is one basic ingredient to having an organized tack room that stays that way.
And I figured now is a really good time to focus in getting the tack room in tip top shape as I continue to practice this social distancing thing. It can be very challenging to find something to focus on when you can’t be with others. For me honestly, I’m a home body. So I guess I have been practicing social distancing for so long now that nothing has really changed for me. But for many people, this is definitely a very challenging time.
So I wanted to share something with you that you can do to really get your tack room organized, as well as giving you a task to do which might help keep you motivated, and in your happy place.
It’s Not The Stuff
One thing I have come to learn the hard way is that by buying organizational tools isn’t the way to get organized. Sure it’s fun, but it is basically slapping a band aid on a larger problem.
Think of it like this, if your tack room looks like it belongs on an episode of hoarders, shelving units and wall hangers may help, but only for a while. At first you will vow to keep it looking this way, and you will, for a bit. But then you get busy, and before you know it, the clutter will have taken over again.
But I have the holy grail of how to keep your tack room looking great, and staying that way for good.
Declutter, Declutter, Declutter
This is the secret. Yep, not what you were thinking right? I learned this the hard way.
After years of saving everything, my tack room was more of a hodgepodge of my collection. Sure I would bring things that I brought out to the tack room. But then to make room for the ‘shiny new toy’ I would move something to the back.
I never threw anything away.
Therein lies the problem. If you continually add to your tack, but never take the time to get rid of anything, eventually you will have something like this:
And honestly, this isn’t any fun to look at.
But I know it can be difficult to get rid of the stuff. Because when it comes to horses, if you throw something away you will most definitely need it soon after.
Or, you think about how much money you spent on that special something you just had to have, and you can’t even think about getting rid of it. A certain lunging system that I bought comes to mind for me.
I spent over $100.00 on this thing, and it didn’t even fit my horse. So I made my own ropes for it, and I did use it. But now it is hanging on the wall, looking pretty, and that’s about it.
Do you have any parts of your tack room that look like this?
Well if you do, and you are tired of it, this post is for you. I am going to show you how you can finally take charge of the clutter, and have a tack room you love to go into.
Step 1: Go Through EVERYTHING
The first step to getting out from under the clutter is to purge. You need to remove EVERYTHING. And while you are removing it, you are going to put it in 4 piles. You’ve seen this before right?
Your piles will be keep, donate (or sell), undecided, and trash. I find it easiest to have a large trash can out with me to make the trash part easier.
Now lets break down each of the piles.
These are the things you use all the time. Your grooming kit, bridles, bits, saddle pads, etc. Everything that you use on a regular basis. If you use it, and it is good shape, put it into the keep pile.
If you don’t use it on a regular basis, it doesn’t go into this pile, no matter how pretty it is.
Now while there are a lot of people who would say donate, I am not one of those people. Horse stuff is expensive. And if I were to donate everything I have bought over the years, I wouldn’t be able to replace the tack I have previously purchased.
So I make a pile of things that I know I won’t use, or have not used anymore, and I offer them up for sale. Then I save the money that I have made, and use that for the next latest and greatest horse product that I fee I really need to have.
If you are following along and doing this for yourself, from your original pile, start a pile of items that you will sell. Or, if you are independently wealthy, donate.
Now this pile is for the things you aren’t sure of. Whether it’s because they were really expensive, or because you have so much stuff, you have never used the item. You can always revisit this pile at a later time.
I know that many of you prefer to recycle when you can. So instead of trash, maybe a recycle can? But for the items you will be throwing out, either a trash can, or a recycle container for everything that will be leaving your barn for good.
If you have a lot of old spray bottles, or supplement containers, you can repurpose these. But the key is to actually do the recycling! Don’t just keep the stuff and have them piling up in your barn. Put them to use. And the rest of the stuff, throw it out.
Step 2: Clean Out The Tack Room
Once you have gone through all of your ‘stuff’ and have them sorted into piles, everything except the fixtures should be out of your tack room. It should be looking very empty at this point.
Next it is time to clean. Cleaning is good right now, especially with the corona virus. Keeping everything clean not only helps to keep germs at bay, but it can also help to keep you healthy while you are out in your barn.
A lot of dust can accumulate in a fast way. So dust everything. The walls, the ceiling if you can, and then of course the floors as well as any fixtures you may have in your barn.
If you can remove the fixtures, it can make the cleaning process easier. So do what you can to basically have an empty room.
Step 3: Clean Your Tack
And I mean CLEAN your tack! All of it. Bridles, horse boots, your boots, saddles, spray bottles, saddle pads. Clean everything before you put it back in its place.
And while we aren’t allowed to go to the store and buy non-essential things right now, if you are needing some awesome tack cleaners, you can still buy them online.
My Favorite Leather Care Products
For example, my most favorite leather cleaner is Effax Leather Combi. It makes cleaning leather easy and fast. And it smells really good too! You just put some of it onto a clean rag, and then wipe down the leather. It works great on saddles, girths, bridles, and well, everything leather.
And I have been known to use the rags to then wipe down dusty things in my tack room, like spray bottles or saddle racks. I haven’t noticed any harm to these items by doing this. And I figure why not? I mean the rags are just going to go in the washer anyways. So why not use the left over to dust with? It seems to work well.
And once all my tack is clean, then I condition it. Again, my favorite leather conditioner is an Effax product. I love Effax Leather Balm, or Leder Balsam, depending on how you can find it listed. This stuff is awesome. I seriously love it. It conditions my leather gear, and also gives just the right amount of ‘stick’ to my saddle.
I haven’t found anything that beats these two products for tack cleaning. And if you want to try Effax products, but aren’t ready to commit to the full sized products, Effax has a great leather care kit with smaller sizes of their products that you can try. It costs around $46.00. And it’s a good way to try the products, as well as giving you a container to keep everything organized.
Step 4: Build Wall Organizers
I love to repurpose, and reuse wood to build stuff with, especially if I can make something awesome for my tack room. I do the same thing with furniture. I have a couple of book shelves in my barn that at one time lived in my house.
But I make a point to have a home for everything in my tack room. And the easiest way to do this is to make (or buy) things that I can hang on the walls to allow easy access to my tack.
This bridle rack is something I made about a year ago. Notice how the leather is all clean? I love that!
And then I found a way to hang saddle pads with a blanket rack.
As well as using it to hang spray bottles. And I built a wall saddle pad rack as well, which I love.
And even using over the door hangers that I found at the Dollar Tree to hang up my ear bonnet, and bit collection.
It makes a difference. And by hanging everything up, I not only give each piece a home, but I can easily see what I have, and find it faster. Which means I can tack up faster too.
Step 5: Putting Everything Away
Ok, once you have cleaned everything, and made some organizational furniture, now you can bring everything back in to your tack room. But, in order to make this work, and I mean really work, everything must have a home. Someplace where it will live while it is waiting to be used.
So be thoughtful with where you are going to put everything that you have. If you only have 1 of everything, this will be a lot easier. But, if you are like me, and a bit of a tack junkie, it might be a little more challenging. This is why I had you take everything out and sort it first, before getting to this step.
But take the time to put things away thoughtfully. I mean, you just spent a lot of time sorting and cleaning right?!?!?!?
And once everything is put in it’s place, take a step back, and admire what you have accomplished!
The Real Secret to an Organized Tack Room
Decluttering is the secret. So go through what you have, and really think about what you use. Go through the steps, and get organized once and for all.
And after you have taken the time to get organized, remind yourself to stay that way. Remember to put things back when you are done using them. Clean your bridle and hang it up.
The halter you use all the time, instead of throwing it on the floor, take an extra 30 seconds and hang it up. If you do this every time you are in your tack room, it will become a habit, and your tack room will stay clean, and organized. Which will give you more time to actually ride your horse!