11-05-2013, 09:07 AM
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In the summer, when tack molds easily here, I keep everything indoors between rides, which means carting it back and forth on a big rolling cart daily... sounds silly, but it really does extend the life of the gear.
Regardless of the time of year, I clean bits after every ride with a cinnamon and clove oil blend; my tack once a week with Absorbine or Leather New all-in-one; and leased tack or client-used tack once a week or when it changes hands, whichever is more often (unless they have arranged for more frequent service, which some do).
I spent 10 years in the military, including 4 years at a service academy, and have shined a LOT of leather to inspection standard. In my experience, the product you use doesn't matter as much as the thoroughness with which you clean - this means taking bridles apart, getting in between braided reins, etc. I only go military-esque on my tack about once a month, but the way I figure, I paid a lot of money for it, and regular deep cleaning does extend the life of the product.