Buying second-hand tack can be great for the hip pocket nerve but it can also be very easy for problems to occur.

With second-hand tack, a keen eye is essential. Saddles and bridles need to be assessed carefully to ensure they are in good condition, and they are what the seller says they are.

What to look for when buying a second-hand saddle:

When buying a second-hand saddle there are a few key things that you must check first to determine if the saddle is suitable for you:

  • The tree
  • The panels
  • The leather quality overall
  • The seat
  • Girth straps
  • D rings and screws are tight and in place
  • The stitching
second hand tack

The Saddle Tree

Checking the tree of the saddle is essential. A saddle with a broken tree can cause damage to your horse’s back and can be dangerous to ride in:

  • Hold the pommel of the saddle against your thigh
  • Press on the seat with one hand
  • Use the other hand to grasp the cantle and pull it towards you

Some saddle trees will have flex in them but if it has excessive flex, bends or makes any clicking or squeaking noises when pressure is applied it can indicate a broken tree.

The second test you can do is:

  • Mount the saddle as if you were riding it
  • Clamp your knees against the area of the stirrup bars
  • Squeeze your knees inwards

Movement or funny noises can indicate a broken head plate which can be very dangerous to ride in.

saddle tree damaged

Saddle Panels

You will need to check the symmetry of the saddle panels. Many saddles are wool-flocked or foam-flocked and can be customised to fit specific horses. When buying used you want to make sure that the saddle even though made to fit another horse, can be re-adjusted to fit your own.

Saddle Condition

If the leather is soft and supple it will appear to have been well looked after. Avoid purchasing anything that has dry or mouldy leather.

Many modern saddles are made using soft calfskin leather. Ensure this has been properly cared for as it can be prone to excessive wear, winkling and tearing.

The stitching is important to assess. If it is starting to fray this may indicate old age or the care the saddle has been given. If the stitching is starting to fall apart but it is right on the edge of the saddle flap where it is merely decorative it won’t cause as much of an issue but if it is stitching that is holding the panels together, that would be a completely different issue.

saddle leather

Photos are critical.

You want to see photos from as many angles as possible to ensure the saddle is legitimate and not a scam. This also allows you to check all aspects of the saddle without seeing it in person. This is the case for many saddle sales where you need to assess online as the saddle is too far away to go and see in person.

Photos from all angles will also help you determine if the saddle has a Tack Track unique tracking number on the stirrup bar or under the flap. This code is unique and can be searched online for free. This can tell you if the saddle has been reported stolen. If it has, you will know that this is not a legitimate seller and should be reported to the authorities.

What to look for when buying a second-hand bridle:

Despite not being as critical as a saddle, they can still cause a lot of problems if they break when you use them or if they arrive in poor condition after being advertised as good quality.

To check a second-hand bridle, you need to make sure the leather is soft and supple. Avoid any bridles that have dry, cracked, mouldy or excessively stiff leather. The buckles should also be checked to ensure they haven’t rusted and are still in working order.

It is also important to check for any splits or cracks in the leather or anywhere that is excessively thin as this will indicate that the bridle has not been looked after well.

Once again photos from all angles are critical to assess the quality of the bridle. These photos will also be able to show you if the bridle has a Tack Track unique tracking number on it.

This number can generally be found on the underside of the headpiece. Due to the unique Tack Track number, this can be searched online for free to ensure the bridle is not stolen.

Check for a Tack Track Unique Tracking Number

With all tack items, it is important to ask the seller why they are selling the tack. This can give you an idea of why it might be for sale and if it is a legitimate sale.

You need to be very wary of scams, especially when buying second-hand tack online.


Don’t forget buying second-hand tack can be a great money saver but make sure you do all of the proper checks before you buy any tack to ensure you receive what you think you are purchasing.

second hand bridle damage