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The tack room is one of the most important places in your barn. It’s where you store all of your horse equipment like halters, saddles, and saddle pads plus items used for caring for them such as grooming tools and buckets. We even have a medicine cabinet in our tack room.
A tack room is a place to store your saddle and bridle, as well as other riding gear. A tack room needs shelves, saddle racks, and hooks to keep your gear organized and easily accessible. And, it should be clean, dry, well-lit, and have good ventilation so your leather products don’t mold.
As a horse owner, the ultimate goal for your tack room should be to have everything you need for your horse organized so that it’s easy and quick to retrieve items. Not only does this help save time but being able to see what you have will also extend the life of your tack and save money on unnecessary purchases.
Many horse owners personalize their tack rooms, which is fine but there are some basics every tack room should have. If you are looking for tack room organizing ideas, then this guide is for you! Whether you are building a tack room from the ground up or are simply making changes to an existing one, then read on.
- What is stored in a tack room?
- Why do they call it a tack room?
- Tack room layout ideas and hardware
- Tips to organize your tack room.
Let us start with the basics:
What is Stored in a Tack Room?
A tack room can be inside your barn, a stand-alone structure, or in a horse trailer. We use all three for different reasons but they each have the same purpose – it’s where we keep everything related to horses from saddles to hoof picks. Here is a list of the basic items you should expect to store in a tack room.
- Lead ropes
- Horse blankets or fly sheets
- Saddle pads
- Leg wraps
- Hoof boots/dressing/trimmers/picks
- Extra girths/billets staps/
- Other equipment
For more details on what exactly is included in horse tack, check out Horse Tack: All Items Horse Owners Need.
Why is it Called a Tack Room?
It is estimated that the concept of a tack room for storing stable gear might have originated in the 1900s – around the same time when Equestrianism began being counted as an Olympic Sport.
The word tack is short for tackle. Tackle or tackling refers to an old term used for horse riding or directing a domesticated horse.
In the olden days, farmers or ranchers would use a small shed to store their horse-related paraphernalia and they started referring to it as ‘tack room shed’.
Typically, tack rooms had a steep front roof pitch and a shallower back roof pitch. This structure was very similar to the salt boxes people used in the olden days.
(The concept of salt boxes originated in New England. Saltbox buildings had two stories in the front and one in the back. This style of housing came about to help people avoid taxation levied on multi-stories buildings.)
Of course, people would also use the tack room to store food in addition to saddles, bridles, etc. The position of the roof and the shed’s door made storage a lot easier and more accessible. One could easily fit in larger items in the back and push the smaller and regularly used items in the front or closer to the door.
My grandfather’s tack room was a small stand-alone structure he reserved strictly for his horse riding gear with a hitching post out front. Today, people use tack rooms or tack sheds not just for storing horse tack but also for other hobbies and crafts.
Also Read: How to Clean Horse Tack
Typical Tack Room Layout & Hardware You Need
Whether you are building a tack room from scratch or simply sprucing up an existing one, the following layout ideas can help you optimize space and storage:
The ideal size of a tack room
According to the experts at Morton buildings, the ideal size of a tack room is the same size as most horse stalls or a shed. This means that your tack room should be small since a small size ensures ease of access. A good size, according to Morton buildings, is 10 x 10 or 12 x 12 feet.
Each time we built a horse barn, it was important for us to provide enough space not only in terms of stalls but also for tack rooms and wash racks. If we intended to house four horses then we built a six-stall barn while one 12×12 square foot area towards the back was reserved as a tack room and the other space for a wash rack.
You also need a tack room height of at least 9 feet so you can add vertical storage shelves in the room. Vertical storage is very handy for hanging blankets, ropes, halters, etc. I suggest leaving the space over horse stalls open for optimum ventilation, but it’s a good practice to install a plywood ceiling over your tack room to keep out dust.
If you are building your tack room from scratch, then consult your architect about the size of the room while also considering how much tack you have and how much open space is left. The key is to use all of the available space to your advantage.
One of the most important features of every tack room is proper ventilation. This is very important to maintain the leather equipment. If you keep your tack in the open, then ventilation is easy to achieve.
However, if your tack is inside lockers, use proper materials that will regulate moisture. Wood is generally the best choice for moisture regulation and looks elegant as well.
You want to make sure your tack room is as dry and dust-free as possible. You can do this by installing a small window that will allow fresh air in but keep out moisture. You can also use fans to circulate air.
Tack room lighting is critical if you’re like us, often going into your tack room early in the mornings before daylight to grab the gear we need to saddle up. Without good lighting, you’ll be fumbling around and wasting time. I wrote an article on barn lighting you may find helpful.
Saddle racks or stands
Saddle racks are available in various materials. If budget isn’t a constraint, then go in for high-quality wood racks with rounded contours. The wood will help with moisture regulation while the roundness will eliminate pressure points (which can impact the saddle’s shape). Good saddle racks will provide optimum support to the saddle.
You can check Amazon for prices to get a baseline price to compare with your local sellers and also get some ideas for your tack room. My favorite saddle rack style is the verticle model which can hold up to three saddles.
They are space savers but for shorter people, it can be challenging to get the top saddle off and on the rack.
You can also choose to mount your saddle racks inside the lockers as you see in horse trailers. I’ve never used this style in a barn but it looks like a nice space-saving idea. For older saddles and ones you really want to take care of, I suggest using single saddle stands.
At the training center barn, we use wall-mounted saddle racks, these can be used for western or English style saddles and are a great space-saving option. You can find them made in different materials and some are designed to fold down when not in use.
There are also relatively inexpensive portable wall-mount saddle racks, when I first saw one I thought it was for English saddles but after reading reviews it can be used with a western saddle as well.
Another must-have feature of tack rooms is bridle holders. I like to use the horse bridle rack sold by Intrepid with its rounded top and hook design. The round contour prevents pressure on the bridles and also supports them well. I find these work much better than standard hooks.
You can also add a second button on the holder to add your reins. I suggest you check out the different styles on Amazon and see if there is a particular one you like best.
Safety helmet holders
The addition of stainless-steel safety helmet holders makes accessing them easy and also adds an aesthetic appeal to the tack room’s layout. Choose helmet holders having a strong, light, and open construction for moisture regulation.
You can also have these holders in multiple colors or a single color that complement’s your tack room’s overall décor. I have to admit we keep our equestrian helmets on a shelf and don’t use a holder.
If you have several whips, then a whip holder is one of the important tack-room-must-haves. Choose whip holders made from, non-toxic, durable, and odorless ABS plastic material, or go in for steel or wood holders. These are wall-mounted and you can easily DIY install them without too much hassle.
Blanket racks and brackets
Blanket racks and brackets can keep the horse blankets, fly sheets, or cooling sheets off the floor and neatly organized is important but their most important function is to allow wet blankets to dry.
You can choose from wooden or metal horse blanket racks based on your tack room’s décor. A good dimension for blanket racks is 36 H x 16 W x 12 D inches. This is adequate for holding nearly 8-10 blankets.
You can even add towel racks on the walls for storing large blankets after washing or after they get wet in the rain.
7 More Tips for Tack Room Organizing
1. Keep things simple
Organizing a tack room need not be an expensive project: even the simple use of inexpensive organizers for about $2 to $3 from a tack store can also make a huge difference in eliminating clutter. Visit tack and home improvement stores that have a large assortment of accessories and hardware.
2. Check out tack room ideas from friend’s farms
For ideas regarding organizing a tack room, you can always check out tack rooms on friends’ farms or ranches or visit breeding farms, stables, and local boarding facilities.
You can also consult the staff at local saddlery or tack stores; they are very knowledgeable and can give you great tips for tack room design or organizing. They will also help you select the right tools and organizers.
3. Take care of the basics
Sometimes, you don’t need a major overhaul or redecoration in the case of the tack room. Simply change the windows, doors, and damaged floorboards to prevent dust and debris from accumulating on the tack. You can also add wallpaper or a fresh coat of paint on the walls to spruce up the tack room.
4. Add pops of color
Who says tack room has to be dull and boring? Do not be afraid to use color. Even if you keep the walls neutral, you can add some rugs, vases, or other wall art to add splashes of color. For hanging tacks like reins and halters, add a plywood board panel in bright yellow or green to instantly add some drama to an otherwise neutral décor.
5. Use posters and art
We equestrians are very lucky – there is so much choice at our disposal when it comes to horse-related-wall art. You can simply put up some posters having horse-related sayings, quotes, or phrases. These are readily available on eBay or Etsy or you can make your own.
Check out my guide on some horse quotes for some ideas.
6. Add pegboards, bead walls, Velcro walls
Another simple and practical organization idea for your tack room is the use of vertical storage in the form of pegboards and Velcro walls. These can hold your bits, reins, headstalls, halters, etc. in a neat and tidy way. Velcro walls can hold horse tack that comes with Velcro – medicine boots, fly masks, etc.
7. Make it cozier
To make your tack room cozier, add a warm rug, some curtains, and warm colors on the walls. If you have the budget, you can even play with the lighting. Stay minimal but minimal need not be boring!
How do you organize a small tack room?
A small room means that you need to make use of vertical storage. Add plenty of vertical storage in the form of hooks, racks, shelves, pegboards, and Velcro walls. This will clear up the floor space. Where possible, use vertical saddle racks. This can eliminate clutter and keep the floor clear off tack.
How to organize a horse barn?
The best way to organize a horse barn is to eliminate clutter, add organizers, and use the walls for storing horse tack with the help of hooks, shelves, and racks.
Organizing or redecorating a horse tack room can be an extremely satisfying and rewarding project. Always start with a to-do list so you can get the exact outcome you desire. If you are on a tight budget, simply make use of inexpensive organizers to store saddles, reins, etc. Some simple additions like rugs, curtains, wall art, and bright pops of colors can also make a huge difference in an otherwise neutral and simple tack room.