Introduction: Inexpensive Customized Tack Room: Saddle Racks and Bridle Racks

Here's an example of how to get a nice little customized tack room for a minimal cost.

I'm reorganizing my tack to make it more convenient to the front door, so I can conveniently transport it out to the barn (also see my other recent Instructable,, for easy transport of tack from the house tack room to the barn).  I've made a small tack room in an alcove by the front door, with tack racks and hooks for three horses and a saddle cart.

I want to hang several saddles, bridles, and miscellaneous in this area; I need saddle racks and bridle hooks.  I want to put my barn shoes and riding shoes on the floor and have them out of the way (don't really need anything but a defined area that I won't trip over them as I go by).  I want to stick a few things on a shelf so they're handy as I walk out the door, so I need a shelf.

Things are slightly complicated by the fact that the wall is rough-cut wood, and I don't want my tack getting scratched up by it, so I need something to protect my tack.

Step 1: Tools and Supplies

* Drill & screws
* Staplegun & staples
* Scratch awl
* Pencil
* Scrub brush
* Level
* Drill bit suited to the screw-back of the tool hooks

* A selection of end-pieces cut off from fenceposts, to make saddle racks; I chose two 3-4" round pieces, about 20" long each.
* A nice fleece throw I could staple-gun to the wall to protect my tack
* Shelf supports, 12" and 8", one of each size per saddle rack; the long ones have hooks which I may use to hang bridles once everything is assembled.
* A pillowcase I wasn't using to go around each saddle rack to protect the tack
* Some tool hooks for bridle holders, wide enough not to crease the leather
* Liquid electrical tape -- I suspect this is basically plasti-dip, but I have yet to get my hands on genuine plasti-dip.  I used it to cover the hooks on the large shelf supports and to cover the tool hooks to make them a little more grippy and a little less hard-edged.

* For the shelf, I used a spare 1"x8" board, about 20" long, and a couple of 2" long shelf brackets I dug up from my miscellaneous bin.

* For the jacket/etc hooks, I used some horseshoe hooks I'd made in a welding class, but I could just as easily have used the same tool hooks as above, or any random coat/utility hook you might find at a hardware store.

I already had a floor stand saddle rack, and of course the rolling saddle cart.  If I hadn't had the floor stand saddle rack, I'd've just put in another saddle rack on the wall.

The wall in this room is made of solid, if rough-cut, wood.  If you're going to be doing anything like this, make sure you attach your racks and shelves and hooks into good supports: studs or anchors, etc.  I doubt anchors would be good enough for a rack holding a saddle, so make sure you have a good solid stud or other support under those.

Step 2: Using the Liquid Electrical Tape

I started with this step to give everything else time to dry. 

I simply painted the liquid electrical tape, using the brush under the can's lid, onto the hooks on the end of the shelf supports and also the tool hooks.  I had to do one side of the tool hook, wait for it to dry, then flip it and paint the other side, so I came back from time to time to complete the whole process.

I coated the shelf support hooks to make the edges slightly softer, and make the surface grippier.  If I do hang anything from these hooks, it shouldn't scratch them or let them slip off.

I coated the tool hooks because I just don't care for bright red.

Step 3: Moving Along

I put the saddle stand and saddle cart into place to see where I should hang the wall saddle racks for easy access: to be able to reach them, so they won't be in the way, and so on.  I marked several areas with pencil while considering.  Finally I decided to put the saddle cart on the left, the saddle stand on the right, and put two wall saddle racks in line vertically above the floor saddle stand.

I was about to cover over my pencil marks with a blanket on the wall, so I made a mark above where the blanket would go in line with where I had decided to place them, and also one per rack way out to the right as well.

Having made sure that I'll be able to use my markings after I cover them up, I stretched out my chosen wall-backing blanket and stapled it in place.  It's at the right height to protect any saddles in the tackroom, whether on the racks, the stand, or the cart.

Step 4: Covering and Placing the Racks

I took my selected fence post pieces, brushed them off well, and brought them inside.  These should be round and straight enough to support the saddles, but not damage them with inappropriate pressure.  It'd be great if they were well-designed saddle-shaped nice racks, but we're looking at a tack room on a budget, here.

Fence posts are rough wood, of course, so I don't want to put saddles directly on them.  For each rack, I slid the post into the end of a pillowcase, and pushed it up against one long edge.  Then I rolled the pillowcase around the post, and stapled it in place.

I took the short shelf bracket, and pushed it into the open end of the pillowcase.  I don't want the saddle scratched by the bracket, either.  I found the screw holes by feeling through the layers of pillowcase cloth, and punched a hole with my scratch awl to keep the cloth from interfering with the drill.  Then I drilled my screws through the holes to secure the shelf bracket onto the post.

When attaching to the wall, the remainder of the loose cloth went behind the post, and over/around the shelf bracket.

I then placed each rack where I wanted it to be, with the short bracket upright above it, and secured it with just one screw.  This allowed me to test the placing, make sure nothing would interfere once it was properly secured.  I slid saddles onto each of the racks and made sure I could easily put them on and take them down.  When I was well-satisfied with the placing, I pulled the loose cloth back and used the drill to put a screw in the other two holes of the top shelf bracket.

My wall is made of wood, so I could put the racks wherever was most convenient.  For handing saddle racks off a more normal, finished wall, you'd definitely want to attach all the brackets securely to studs.

Then I took the loose cloth, made it somewhat neat, and stapled it down.  I also stapled looser cloth around the tip of the rack.

Okay, the racks were covered and placed, but certainly not well-secured.  This wouldn't hold a saddle's weight well.

Step 5: Securing the Racks

By now the liquid electrical tape was dry, so I brought the large shelf brackets in.  I first attached them to the bottom of each saddle rack, then to the wall.  I managed to attach two of the brackets together at the tip, in order to minimize the space between the top and bottom rack.

The saddle racks are shown here complete, with enough space between them not to interfere with each other, and set up so that I can easily take a saddle off any rack.  The blanket on the wall will keep the saddles from being scratched by the wall no matter which rack is used.  It's a good setup now.

I won't want to store girths or other tack hanging in the shelf bracket (as shown in the past photo, below) but it will make a good spot for temporarily holding such things to get them out of the way.  I may eventually put in some kind of support so that the triangular area has a level "shelf" so it is more suitable for hanging pieces of tack to store them.

Step 6: Shelf and Coat Hooks

The left side of the tack alcove-room is a wall.  I wanted to put a shelf and coat hangers on it, for sunglasses and barn coats and gloves and other such things I might want to grab as I head out the door.

I had a piece of board handy (1"x8" by about 20" long) and a couple of little shelf brackets.  I attached the shelf brackets to the board rack (braced against an upright wall to make sure they were placed right), then held the board up against the wall with a level on it.  Once it was about where I wanted to put it, and level, I used the drill to screw it to the wall.  This made a nice little shelf for holding sunglasses, with a little extra room for a few more such items.

I happened to have some hooks made of horseshoes (I made them in a welding class).  The horseshoes themselves are too narrow to use for hanging tack; they'd crease or strain the leather.  But they will make great hooks for the various other things that I might want out at the barn: barn coat, scarf, treat pouch, half chaps, sun hat, and so on.  I held them up to the wall to see what height would be handy for grabbing items off the hooks, used the level to get them straight once I'd selected the spot, and screwed them on.

It would have been just as easy to take more hooks like the tool hooks used in the next step, or any other coat hook/utility hook/etc and screw a few of them to the wall.  any hooks would do; I just happened to have these, and was looking for a place to use them.  If you wanted you could attach a few coathooks to a spare board, or even plaques like the ones my horseshoes are on (about $10 at craft supply stores), before attaching them to the wall.

Again, my wall is made of wood.  Any of these would probably be fine secured into a more normal wall with anchors, if there aren't any studs handy.

Step 7: Bridle Hooks

I selected hooks for bridles that would be wide enough to support the bridle's crownpiece without straining the leather.  A too-narrow support will crease the top of a bridle, or even crack it.  By hanging the bridles across both sides of this tool hook, it will be well-supported.

I didn't care for the original color of these hooks, so I painted them with the liquid electrical tape too.  They came out a nice matte black, but still grippy and soft.  They'll be well-suited to holding up tack.

As before, I held my bridles up to the wall, trying to determine where they could hang that would let me access the easily, but without interfering with the saddles or each other.  I found four places to put these hooks; I have two more, and will keep thinking about it. 

Once I had determined where to put them, I used my scratch awl to punch a hole in the fleece throw so that I could drill into the wall without the cloth interfering.  Even with the hole in place, the fleece kept trying to grab onto the drill bit and then the screw-back of the hooks, so I had to keep a hand on it to keep it taut, so it wouldn't grab my tools and bind them up.  I used a drill bit slightly smaller than the screw-backs on the hook to make a pilot hole for the hooks.  Once the hole was in place, I just screwed them in place by hand.

I set each of these one at a time, and then hung tack from them again to make sure that I had the spacing right before drilling the next hole.  You can't really un-drill a hole, but you can double check your spacing before you drill.

Once I had four hooks in place, I was done.  I have saddle racks, bridle hooks, a place to stick stuff on the floor, hooks and a shelf to store non-tack items on the wall, and a cart to carry my tack out to the barn.  I'm all set.  It should be easy and inexpensive for others to create their own tack rooms using similar supplies and methods :)

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