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TACK CARE, FITTING, & SHOWING WITH UNICORN WOMAN TACK FAQ



About these hints and how they affect your guarantee
Alterations and your Guarantee
General Advice
On Tack Fit
Long Term Tack Display
Display Locations
Cigarette Smoke & Tack
Tack Made with White Lace or Leather

Bridles & Halters--General Information

Arabian Costumes
Arabian Halters

English Saddles
Weymouth Bridles

Native American Reproduction Regalia

Silver Laced Saddles & Other Tack
Western Bosals
Western Bridles
Western Saddles
Corona Saddle Pads
Western String Girths & Breast Collars
Western Lariats
Western Tie-downs


ABOUT THESE HINTS

All the Unicorn Woman's tack is designed from quality materials and should provide years of enjoyment with proper care. The advice listed below has been used successfully in our shop and is designed for our tack. (It may not work with tack from other artists.) We offer these guidelines as one friend to another. We do not Guarantee results.

THE UNICORN WOMAN IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE CAUSED BY FOLLOWING OR MIS-FOLLOWING THESE GUIDELINES. Please use care and common sense when caring for your tack.

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ALTERATIONS AND YOUR GUARANTEE

Note: Some of the instructions below show you how to custom fit your tack to your model and involve permanently altering your tack item. DO NOT PERFORM THESE ALTERATIONS UNLESS YOU PLAN TO KEEP THE TACK ITEM. Alterations VOID your guarantee.

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GENERAL ADVICE

Model horse tack is always going to be fragile due to its small scale. Treat it gently. Do not tug or pull roughly on straps and buckles.

When threading buckles, it is best to use your fingers whenever possible. However, some buckles are so small, you will have to use tweezers or needle-nose pliers to achieve a proper fit. Be careful when doing so. If you slip, you could scratch your model horse.

Always store tack in a separate box from your models and obstacles. Certain items, like western saddles and Arabian Costumes, probably should be packed in small boxes within the larger tack box. Saddle shape can be maintained by wrapping it around a tissue-paper roll as if it were on a horse.

After a show, always clean off the sticky wax from your tack. Leaving it to set, can cause damage by removal of "silver" plating on your hardware.

Leather items should be periodically cleaned and oiled like real tack. This will increase their life and improve their fit. However, this should only be done to smooth leather. Do not apply to suedes. Also, avoid "silver" or other hardware items. If you accidentally get leather oil on the hardware, wipe it off immediately. Allow item to dry thoroughly before putting on model horse as wet tack could damage model finish. Note: Some oils, like Neatsfoot oil, darkens the leather permanently.

Hardware items should be polished with a soft cloth. Only under extreme conditions of tarnish or other corrosion should a metal cleaner be used, and then, only with extreme caution. Metal cleaners can ruin your leather.

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ON TACK FIT:

Unless you requested your tack to be fitted to a specific model, it was fitted to the "Standard" for the scale you ordered. This will not fit all models, though it should fit many. If you need a specific model fitted, you need to order the tack to fit that horse.

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LONG TERM DISPLAY:

While many tack items will display without problems, some may damage the horse. Some items to watch are hand-dyed laces and all suedes. In addition, climates with high humidity may cause other materials to stain your model as well. Use of a plain white cloth cut to fit the exact size of the saddle can reduce the risk of damage.

It is recommended that if you wish to display your items long term, you do so for a test period first, checking the item every few days. If it starts to stick or stain, remove at once. Do not leave this item on long-term display.

For more information on Long Term Tack Display, please read my article Long-Term Tack Display--The Risks to your model horse.

WARNING: Any customer displaying tack on a long-term basis does so at his/her own risk.

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DISPLAY LOCATIONS

Use wisdom in where you display your tack. Avoid places like the bathroom (high humidity) or the kitchen (full of frying oil splatters). Direct sunlight may also be a bad idea.

Consider also who and what will have access to your tack if put on display. Pets find leather tasty and may chew it. Children and friends may find it hard not to play with or touch.

WARNING: Any customer exposing model horse tack to cigarette smoke does so at his/her own risk.


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CIGARETTE SMOKE & TACK

Long Term exposure to cigarette smoke can damage and/or discolor leather items. It can also discolor your model horses. This is most obvious on white models. It is recommended the models and model horse tack be stored in a Smoke-Free environment.

WARNING: Any customer exposing model horse tack to cigarette smoke does so at his/her own risk.


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TACK MADE with WHITE LACE OR LEATHER

White laces may react chemically with metal hardware, tarnishing the hardware. This may happen with white leather as well. This seems to occur only if enclosed in a plastic bag. NEVER store items made of white lace in plastic. Leave these items exposed to the air.

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BRIDLES AND HALTERS--GENERAL ADVICE

The straps on our bridles and halters are generally longer than needed. Just fit to the model and snip away the excess strap. Be sure, however, to leave enough excess to thread and unthread the buckle. Do not do this if you are considering returning the bridle. Customer made alterations VOID your money-back guarantee.

Many of our bridles lack nosebands (like real bridles). To achieve proper fit, use Mini-Wax™ or sticky wax on the bits and press against the mouth.

To learn about using Mini-Wax™ and other hobby holding waxes, please read my article Mini-Hold Wax™--How to use it for showing purposes.

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ARABIAN COSTUMES

In the course of putting on an Arabian Costume, you may find the tassels need smoothing out. Do so gently. Tugging may dislodge them. If a tassel happens to come loose from its bell cap setting, place a dab of craft glue (5-2-7 recommended and available from The Unicorn Woman) on the head of the tassel and place back inside the bell cap. Allow to dry.

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ARABIAN HALTERS

The chain goes under the chin with the cloth noseband on top. The tasseled throatlatch hangs below the throatlatch area. You may tighten the throatlatch by spacing the decorative beads along the throatlatch, so that you have the throatlatch, then a straight area hanging down to the tassel.

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ENGLISH SADDLES

Stirrup leathers are extra long to allow personal adjustment. Cut off excess that extends beyond the saddle skirt after being threaded through keepers.

I'm currently experimenting with the billet/girth attachments. Strict authenticity calls for the use of two small buckles on each end; however, this is beastly to use in a show situation. Some of our English saddles may have the easier to fit single buckle on each end of the girth. If this is not acceptable, you may exchange it for one with the two small buckles.

Girths are fitted to the standard size, unless you specifically requested otherwise. This occasionally will not provide the fit you intended as English saddles are used on such a wide range of horse types. If you need a girth adjustment, you may return the girth with notice of the adjustment for replacement. This is free, if done within 10 days of receipt of your order. After that time, there will be a $5.00 charge to cover postage, etc.

Stirrups may dull with time. If this occurs, remove from saddle and stirrup leathers before polishing.

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WEYMOUTH BRIDLES

The curb chain on your Weymouth bridle is designed for some adjustment. If it is too short, rebend or replace the wire bit hooks. If it is took long, rebend the bit hooks or remove a link from the chain until correct fit is achieved. Be sure to only remove one link at a time as there is a fee for replacement curb chains.

The lip strap is required in some English classes; optional in others. Please check current rules for requirements as they change. The purpose of the lip strap is to keep the curb chain in place. It attaches to the lipstrap loop on the bit's shanks, goes through the jump ring on the curb chain, and down to the opposite bit shank.

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NATIVE AMERICAN REPRODUCTION REGALIA

The saddles for our Native American Reproduction Regalia Sets are built on a wire tree. This means that some adjustment may be made to the saddle in order to fit your model better. For narrow-withered horses, push the sides of the saddle together slightly. For fatter horses, pull the sides apart a little. If the saddle rides downhill, opening the back slightly while keeping the front the same width fixes the problem.

Some of our Native American Reproduction Regalia Sets may have leather parts painted with bright colors. While these parts are sealed, it does not always catch all the color. DO NOT let the painted portion remain in contact with the horse's finish. Painted reins should have the decoration facing outwards. Painted stirrups should only be in correct riding position for actual show purposes. At all other times, the stirrup should be turned to keep the painted portion away from the horse's side OR a piece of white felt should be placed between the stirrup and the horse's finish.

Lady's Costume: Cradleboards hook over the front saddle horn and should hang on the right side of the horse.

Brave's Costume: The cinch/stirrup strap goes over the fur pad.

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SILVER LACED SADDLES & OTHER TACK

We attempt to seal all silver used on our tack, but frequently the silver will not take the seal and tarnish will result. If this happens, you may clean the silver using Tarn-X. Dip a cotton swab into the Tarn-X. Dab swab onto a paper towel to remove excess. Cotton Swab should be damp, not saturated. Gently wipe the damp swab over the tarnished silver, being careful not to get Tarn-X on leather. If you do get any on the leather, wipe off immediately! Your leather is sealed, but can be penetrated and mar if too much liquid is applied.

For extremely detailed areas, a toothpick dipped in the Tarn-X can be used as a "brush" to remove the tarnish.

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WESTERN BOSALS

Watch the position of the headstall straps in regards to the eye. If they touch the eye, adjust the straps and RECHECK fit. Be sure browband is in correct position. Check that throatlatch is buckled. Make sure noseband is not too low. If there still is a problem, use a little Mini-Wax to hold in correct position or switch models.

To learn about using Mini-Wax™ and other hobby holding waxes, please read my article Mini-Hold Wax™--How to use it for showing purposes.

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WESTERN BRIDLES

Romal reins are held in the left hand with the excess dangling to the right side of the horse.

Curb bits are held in place using Mini-Wax™. To learn about using Mini-Wax™ and other hobby holding waxes, please read my article Mini-Hold Wax™--How to use it for showing purposes.

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WESTERN SADDLES

New western saddles are frequently stiff and need to be "broken in. To do so: Place saddle on horse. Take a rubber band, hook it around one stirrup, go under the belly of the horse, and around the other stirrup. Let set this way for a few days.

If the above treatment doesn't do the trick, you may oil your saddle. Use only leather oil or leather soap. Avoid contact with the "silver" hardware (they may tarnish) and with the suede seat (if any). Also, let saddle dry thoroughly before putting on model. Leather oil can stain model horses.

See also General Advice.

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CORONA SADDLE PADS

Your corona saddle pad should be stored in a manner that will not mash the velvet. If the velvet roll does get mashed, do not brush. Brushing can loosen fibers and can felt them into adjoining colors. In a red/white blanket, this can result in a red/pink blanket.

If you need to fluff the velvet roll, the safest method is to take a needle and just run that through the velvet roll like a pick-comb. You may also place a piece of pantyhose over the end of your vacuum cleaner attachment and vacuum gently. Note: do not use an unshielded vacuum attachment as you may destroy your blanket.

It is best to store the corona saddle pad flat so that it does not need the cloth sections to be ironed.

If you must iron, be sure to do so on a terry towel or other cushioned surface. You can then steam or iron the item from the back side. I like to use a mini-iron designed for bias tape work as the iron face is only about 1 " long.

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WESTERN STRING GIRTHS & BREAST COLLARS

If your string girth or breast collar no longer lays flat, dampen it lightly with water and pin out to dry. Be sure that you do pin it out or the girth may shrink. Note: Be careful not to wet the leather tug straps on the breast collar!

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WESTERN LARIATS
Each lariat comes with a leather strap. This strap is used in attaching the lariat to the saddle. Take the strap and thread it through the gullet hole of the Western Saddle. Now thread the end with the long slit through the small slit. Snug up against the fork. Now, wrap the strap 2-3 times around the lariat. Finally, hook the long slit over the horn. Lariat is attached.
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WESTERN TIE-DOWNS

Tie-Downs go on under the bridle. The hook attaches to the center ring of the saddle girth. A thong (made from white thread) should be looped loosely around the rope portion of the tie-down as it comes by the center ring of the breast collar. The thong is tied to the center ring of the breast collar. You will have best results if you replace this loop each time you tack up, instead of trying to leave a loop tied and threading through it.

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