New Vs Used Tack

Is Used Tack Worth the Price?

Every horse owner periodically has to replace a piece of gear. We never enjoy doing it, it is easy to grow attached to our familiar tack, and let’s face it, new tack can get expensive. So, it is understandably tempting for a rider to consider buying used gear. After all, used cars are popular, so why not a used bridle. However, while a used car might be fine, it’s not so simple when it comes to gear for your horse. Here is an honest assessment of the benefit of used gear and the many perks of buying new, based on my 20+ years riding.

The number one reason anyone buys used horse tack is to save money. A nice high quality saddle might set you back a few hundred dollars, while you could probably find a semi-worn saddle for a small fraction of that. The same argument could be made for most other pieces of tack, and while this is very sound reasoning, it is, unfortunately, the only plus to buying used equipment.

There is one major problem with purchasing used gear, and that is simply that used gear is used. Used tack is cheap for a reason, it is often worn out, damaged, and in other words, not a good choice for use by anyone but the greenest of riders. There is so many problems that can affect used tack when it is not properly maintained; the leather on a saddle will dry out and crack extremely quickly. The area above the stirrups will dry and curl up, cutting into your leg as you sit. Straps stretch, fray and break. Buckles will bend, Rivets will loosen and you can be assured that any brass or other metal will be corroded and rusted. The corroded metal will often times even develop sharp edges, which can prove dangerous.  The tree inside saddle will be loose and slide around inside, making it uncomfortable for you and the horse. The problem is even worse for bridles and harnesses, since those are mainly just metal bits and straps; they wear out quickly when not maintained. In addition, often times you will being buying used gear from the back of a magazine or a newspaper classified, without even the benefit of talking to a knowledgeable shop owner who can help you choose the gear that is best for you.

It is possible to repair worn out used gear, but often times even a simple repair will end up costing more than the tack would have new. To have a new lining put on you are looking at a couple hundred dollars. And to replace a broken tree will cost you nearly the price of a brand new saddle, and that’s if you can find a saddle maker who can do it. New gear has none of the problems you will encounter when purchasing used tack. When you buy new equipment, you can be assured of the high quality of the gear you are purchasing, in some cases a warranty will even be offered, something that you will never get with used tack.

Used saddles have their market, this cannot be denied.  When you are purchasing a saddle for a small child or other beginning rider who is not fully dedicated yet, then you should buy a cheap used saddle and other tack. But, if you are an experienced horse rider, who rides on a frequent basis, and plans to keep doing so for the foreseeable future, then you need a nice, comfortable saddle and high quality tack, gear that does not have any of the flaws that is too evident amongst the used horse tack market. The only way to guaranty quality is to buy new.


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