8 tips to avoid being caught out when buying secondhand equestrian kit

There are some fantastic deals to be had when buying secondhand tack and equipment, but it’s also easy for problems to arise. Check out our top tips for buying used tack and rugs safely.

1. Watch out for weak spots when buying secondhand tack. Master saddler Malan Goddard says the most common weak points are stitching, anywhere leather is turned and sewn to take a buckle, areas around holes, and anywhere that metal rests on leather.

“Pull hard to check stitching, especially on stirrup leathers,” she advises. “They have to bear a lot of weight.”

2. If a bridle has billet hook fastenings, make sure the holes in the billet-place covers have not enlarged so the billet is loose. Check all buckle holes for enlargement and splits.

3. Girths should be checked where leather turns through buckles. On saddles, check girth straps for wear and tear, and check the webbing attachments are in good condition.

4. A damaged saddle tree may harm a horse’s back. Damage can range from a hairline fracture, which will show only when a saddle is stripped down, to an obvious break — which is why buying one that has been checked by a professional saddler is so much safer.

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5. If you buy tack or bits on trust, has the seller measured it correctly? It’s annoying when a supposedly 5in bit turns out to be 5.5in — and measuring saddles between D-rings isn’t an accurate indicator of tree width.

6. Never buy secondhand riding hats or skull caps — it isn’t worth the risk.

7. If something seems too good to be true, or you suspect it might be stolen, it maybe so don’t buy it.

8. Equine vet Lucy Grieve recommends disinfecting secondhand items with an appropriate product to avoid disease transmission. It might not be life-threatening if your horse contracts ringworm from a previous sufferer’s rug, but it will be inconvenient and expensive. Commercial rug wash prices vary, but will always be cheaper than a vet bill.

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday. Plus in the latest issue, out today (31 January 2019), don’t miss our kit special, containing in-depth features on secondhand shopping, therapy products for horses and much more.