Mark Your Tack

Miriam James
ATRA Board Member

Western saddles and tack are being stolen at an alarming rate from our own backyards! Saddles are disappearing from our tack sheds and trailers and are moving far too fast. Yours or ours could be next. The thieves drive around scouting for their next victims.

They know what they want and who they have as an end buyer. The thieves seek the unique, the custom and the specialty saddle, roping, reining and pleasure. These thugs have time and money to put into searching and they come prepared.

The time to mark your saddles and tack with your driver’s license in NOW! Don’t wait for the next snowy or rainy day. In order to stamp your licence number on your saddle, you will need a set of number and alphabet stamps. The ones that are ¼” to ½” will fit in the gullet area nicely. They are available through James Built Saddlery, Heritan Leathers, Leather Factory, Buckskin Fur and Leather and Princess Auto.

Take your western saddle and turn it upside down. Take some warm water and a sponge and start wetting the gullet area (which is directly underneath the horn). When the water starts to penetrate the leather, it will darken in colour. You don’t need to get it completely saturated, just so it’s fairly moist. Leave it sit for 5 minutes and while you are waiting for the leather to just start to dry, line up your number and alphabet stamps to coincide with your licence number. Get a friend or family member to help you hold the saddle still. You will need to rap the stamp with a fairly firm hit from a rubber mallet to be sure that it will leave a good impression. 

Let it dry and then wax your saddle with whatever you have been using to keep it from the elements. This procedure will work for your tack as well, although you will need a firm surface (i.e. table or concrete floor) in order to work on.

English riders are not exempt from thieves. Crooks enjoy going to a barn and cleaning out tack boxes and lockers as well. Your driver’s licence number can be stamped in under the leg panel where it is still visible to someone looking for markings. 

Although marking may not eliminate theft completely, the recovery rate will certainly be higher than at present. I would like to see each and every pony club, light horse club, 4-H equine member, team penner, barrel racer, reiner, pleasure and mountain rider adopt a saddle and tack marking campaign at the beginning of each year to ensure that their members and any new equipment are protected. It should be no different from checking your tack over for wear and fit on an annual basis.

Get angry and get aggressive. Do something to try to stop or at least slow the thugs down! Post a sign on your tack shed, barn door, or farm gate to tell the thieves that you have marked your equipment, your trailer, or your lawn tractor! In that instant that the thief stops to check to see if you did mark your saddle, may be you or your neighbour will happen to see and catch them in the act! 

Editor’s note: A complete stamp set and engraving pen can be borrowed from the Hastings Lake Citizens on Patrol through ATRA board member Shirley McFall 662-4747.