When I first got started with horses, my wife, then girlfriend had mentioned to me that someday she would love a custom tack room. I quickly replied with something sarcastic along the lines of “what the heck is that?”
A tack room is a room in a shed or barn designed to keep your horse tack, or equipment, safe and at the appropriate temperature and humidity for your tack to last for generations to come. On a more practical note, these provide excellent organization for ease of saddling up.
That’s all well and good but why in the world do we need to keep a separate room for all of this equipment? Now that I am in the process of building one, I decided to do some further research to understand what my new tack room should have.
How big should my tack room be?
The answer to this often depends on your own personal situation. How much tack do you have? How many horses do you have? How many horses do you plan to have? How much space if available to use?
If you already own horses and tack and you are thinking of having a tack room built you have to account not only for the tack that you have but all of the tack that you may have in the future. It is very important to plan ahead here when designing your tack room.
If your just getting started with your first tack room you may not even have all of the tack that you are going to need, or want. It seems like every time my wife and I travel through the local farm store we end up “swinging by” the tack isle “just to look.” Inevitably, we end up picking up something either because we need it or just because she thought it was cute.
Again planning ahead is going to be key, you need to think about everything. You will be very surprised at how much tack you are going to end up with.
On the other side of things you do not want to go overboard! Although it is not strictly required, the best thing for your horse tack is to keep them from experiencing wide varieties of heat and humidity changes. The bigger you make the room the more square footage you need to heat and keep free from excess humidity. Like many things in life, this decision is a bit of a balancing act.
Many of the tack room designs that I have seen have widely varied. Some of them have been as simple as a few hooks in an unused stall. While others have been furnished with couches, have full heat and air-conditioning. A lot of these decisions come down to how much money you are willing to spend.
Where should it go?
When planning your tack room, location is one of the most important factors to consider when planning a new tack room. Improper placement can lead to a ton of future headache.
Saddles and other tack is often very heavy. It is important to think about how far riders will need to carry their equipment. Imagine yourself getting ready to tack up your horse, but you need to carry your saddle fifty yards? Would you be okay with that? What if you are planning on boarding other peoples horses? Do you think other riders would be willing to do that each and every time they ride? Probably not.
Additionally, the tack room has other conveniences to consider such as getting it close to a wash stall. When you get done with a long trail ride often times you want to wash all of the sweat and grime off of your horse. This, much like the saddle is a lot easier to do when you don’t have to walk half a mile to do it.
Much like the wash stall, consider your tack rooms location in relation to where you will be unloading your trailers. This is another instance where you will need to regularly carry heavy equipment. It’s a ton easier to accomplish if you don’t need to carry it all that way.
Why in the world does it need to be climate controlled?
During my research, I ran into many people stating very strongly that your tack room should, in fact, have heat and air conditioning. As a cheapskate, I originally thought that this was complete overkill but I couldn’t be further from the truth.
Leather and humidity
Leather reacts quite poorly when faced with both high or low humidity. Leather was once skin, and like our own skin it has a tendency to dry out when there is not a lot of moisture in the air. This causes the leather to crack and become brittle.
Similarly, leather does not do well when left in particularly humid locations can actually cause what is known as leather rot. This rot will is not an instant thing so no need to worry about the odd day here or there where it may be exposed to high levels of humidity. Eventually; however, this will cause some damage to your leather tack.
Interestingly though, when you store your leather at a moderate level of humidity it can actually be good for it. Leather has tons of tiny pores, these pores suck up tons and tons of moisture in the air providing some nourishment to the leather.
As with most things in life you need to keep a balance, not too much humidity, not too little. According to TownsendLeather 30% to 60% is the ideal humidity level for leather. To be honest that is a fairly wide range so in some climates you may not need to do anything.
Leather and Temperature
Leather can react differently depending on the temperature. In high heat things tend to dry out. As we have learned, dry air can cause leather to crack and become brittle.
On the other side of things, leather can actually handle relatively extreme levels of cold without issue. Again, leather was once skin so like our own skin it doesn’t have any issue. Most of the issues that you may run into are related to ice build-up. So as far as cold weather goes you don’t need to keep your tack room at 70deg F but you may want to consider keeping it above freezing, if not for your leather, for your own comfort.
How much does a tack room cost?
A tack room cost will wildly depend on a ton of factors. In fact, it’s very hard to provide a reasonable estimate without knowing what you plan on putting into your tack room. Below are some estimates I was able to get for my area from HomeDepot.
|Building Name||Size of Shed||With Floor?||Number of windows||Price|
|Majestic||8′ X 12′||No||0||$999.00|
|Montana||8′ X 10′||Yes||1||$1,807.91|
|Princeton||10′ X 10′||Yes||0||$1,719.85|
|Tahoe Tall Ranch||10′ X 12′||Yes||1||$3,106.80|
|Meridian||8′ X 10′||Yes||2||$1,889.00|
|Brookfield||16′ X 12′||No||2||$2,695.50|
|Millcreek||12′ X 20′||Yes||2?||$4,995.00|
There are tons of options for pre-built sheds. The prices listed above are for the bare shed only, in the ones that I picked they should all come pre-painted on the exterior. The interior is where you get to have a ton of creativity! This price can vary quite wildly when you start to include things like insulation, drywall, paint and tons of storage.
Let’s continue to go through some numbers. Let’s assume that we picked the “Princeton” shed from above. I’m choosing that shed over the others simply because it is the cheapest option that includes a floor. Now we want to protect our tack the best possible way that we can so we are going to add power and fully insulate the building. Add a couple of lights, shelves, saddle racks, etc. Below I’m listing out the prices of each of these, but keep in mind that these are for my area (during COVID) and likely will differ for you so think of them as an estimate.
|Insulation (~$1.00 / sqft)||$100.00|
|Power Materials (factor in the cost to hire an electrition)||$75.00|
|3/4 Plywood (11 sheets)||263.12|
|Saddle Racks X 5||$250.00|
|5 bridle hooks||$40.00|
|Misc Hooks and other organization||$25.00|
|Sales Tax (7%)||$193.61|
As you can see above with my estimates that things can add up pretty quickly and that doesn’t include things like paint, any kind of floor covering. For floor covering, I recommend something like laminate or tile by the way, easier to clean mud off of.
What does all of this mean? It means that you need to plan ahead if you want to build a tack room, including labor you could easily get upwards of $5,000 so it’s important to make sure that you have thought through everything that you are going to want and need so that you only need to make that purchase once.
Can I build my own tack room?
Absolutely! This is especially the case if you are very handy or have prior construction knowledge. For example, I am currently building my own tack room with tons of storage for all of my wife’s accumulated gear.
For the sake of not boring you, I won’t go into deep details on the construction process. There are tons of resources online for “shed building” plans and designs. Framing is actually pretty easy once you understand the basics. But be sure to follow any local codes or guidelines, they are there for a reason and will differ depending on where you live.
What are some good ways to maintain humidity?
As we discussed earlier humidity is one of the most dangerous things when it comes to our leather tack. So it is important that we make sure to keep our tack room at a semi-decent humidity level.
Again this is going to depend on your area, in the deep south (USA) humidity will often be very high so you will need some way to bring your humidity down. If you happen to live in a desert, you will obviously have the opposite, needing to bring up the humidity so as to not dry out the leather.
Bringing down humidity
Bringing down humidity is actually pretty easy and there are several ways you can do this. The best way is to install a dehumidifier with a small hole for the hose to run outside and away from the building. These can be purchased at just about any hardware store, or even your local farm store.
If you are unable to run power to your building and need to bring down the humidity you still have some options. Chemical dehumidifiers are available on the market and are often used in the basements of older homes. These suck moisture out of the air but eventually they “fill up” and need to be replaced. This option from DampRid is designed for large rooms and should last about 2 months.
Bringing up humidity
Bringing up the humidity is almost as easy as bringing it down. Instead of looking for a dehumidifier you are going to look for a humidifier. Unfortunately, there isn’t a “hands off” option that I am aware of for humidifiers. Most have a tank of water that will need to be regularly refilled in order to continue to add moisture to the air.
If you decide to not have power to your tack room you also have some options for adding humidity; however, I am not 100 percent sure on the effectiveness of each.
Try adding a bowl of water to a windowsill. As the sun comes up it will slowly cause the water to evaporate, thus adding a little bit of humidity. Adding a few houseplants can also increase the humidity levels of the room by a process called “transpiration.” Basically all that means is that houseplants “sweat” a tiny amount of water. You may need to use a mixture of both options to keep your humidity at the right levels.
What about security?
Security could probably be a blog post all on its own. Currently, I haven’t written a post on this topic so I’ll make a few notes here.
With all of the investments that we make into our tack, one often overlooked thing is security. In many cases we country folk like to leave everything unlocked and not even think about it. But it would be far to easy for someone to get into your tack room and load up your prized show saddle. Perhaps some kid decides it would be an awesome place to sneak into and have a couple underage beers with friends, who then get in the mood to break things?
With the investment that we’ve made the simplest thing that we can do is to add a lock to our building. This is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to protect your tack. I would recommend investing in a lock that uses a code over a key.
One of my outbuildings has a standard lock with a key. It seems like almost every time I end up walking halfway out there, realizing that I don’t have the key, and then end up spending ten minutes looking for the darn thing because the kids didn’t put it back were it goes.
Another awesome thing to add to your new tack room is a simple camera system. I use the Blink camera system for my home and it is awesome. They are completely wireless, which makes for a nice install; however, about once per year or so you do need to replace batteries. Also, it can be controlled from your smartphone from anywhere in the world. Makes it easy to arm/disarm the system.
One thing to note with camera’s like blink is that they don’t record a continuous feed. If the system is disarmed, it’s effectively a very expensive wall decoration as far as the crooks are concerned.
Building a tack room can be quite the undertaking but in the long run, will defiantly pay off. As you start hanging saddles and bridles on your new walls you will get a huge sense of accomplishment and will know that you will always be providing your tack with the care it deserves to last you a lifetime. Below I’m including an aweome video that should get you in the organizational mood!