When I was a kid, my models had a variety of tack items made from various found fabrics, scraps of leather and embroidery floss. I just used whatever I could find in my parents' house and didn't give it much thought.
All that changed in the early 1990's when Carol Williams of Rio Rondo started selling her wildly successful Western saddle kit. The idea of being able to make a saddle that actually looked like a real saddle was beyond exciting to me. I bought a kit. The instructions said to use 527 Bond Glue (now sold as Beacon 527), so I bought a tube of that and continued to buy that type of glue for the next fifteen years.
There's a lot to like about the 527. It's easy to find and inexpensive. It dries clear and creates a strong but flexible bond. On the downside, it's stinky. You really have to use it in a well ventilated area or the fumes can be overwhelming. I used to get a lot of headaches after spending several hours working on tack. I attributed that to the close-up, concentrated work. However, since I stopped using 527, the frequency of my headaches has gone way, way down. Late last year, I started having trouble finding the 527 Glue with the precision applicator. I was still able to find the tubes with the bigger opening, but I'm messy and I really don't do well with that type of packaging. I started looking into other types of glues and came up with this one--Tanner's Bond Leather Craft Cement. It's a white glue and at first I wasn't sure that I wanted to use a white glue. However, it wasn't long before I was completely in love with it. Like the 527, it dried clear and flexible. Additionally, it had better "grab" and wasn't stinky. I used it for several months and was completely happy with it, except for one thing...
The warning label of the back of the bottle was a little bit scary. I don't always know how seriously to take those, but it recommends contacting a doctor just for skin contact. I work messy. There is going to be skin contact with glue on every single project. I tried wearing disposable gloves while I worked, but that was a disaster. I kept gluing the fingers together! I never did feel any ill effects from working with this glue, but eventually the warning label got to me. I went back to the hobby store to find something else.So this is what I've been using for the last several months. It's a bit hard to read the label because my current bottle has seen a lot of use, but it's Aleene's Tacky Glue. Again, it's a white glue that dries clear and flexible. I find it's very easy to clean up mistakes and it says NonToxic right on the front of the bottle. It has a lot of grab and seems strong enough. My kids often sometimes like to make "tack" of their own (although not usually for use on horses) and I don't mind them using this glue. It is completely odorless. Here are some other glues, I have on my work area right now. I bought the Jewel-it to attach all the tiny crystals to my Arab costume and it worked very well for that. I've also used it for crystal browbands. I bought the OK to Wash-It for some fabric projects and couldn't seem to get it to work at all. It seems "slippery" to me and every time I used it, I ended up finishing the job with Tacky Glue instead. I haven't used the Thick Designer Tacky Glue yet. I'm going to give it a try when I run out of the other bottle. I don't use a lot of Super Glue when I'm making tack. It usually dries white and stiff, and if you want to take something apart, you can't without tearing the leather. However, I do find the Loctite Super Glue gel to be useful in certain circumstances. It's my first choice for attaching silver plates to halters or saddles and can be used instead of the Jewel-it for securing crystals. The gel has a bit more working time than the liquid super glues and is a lot less messy. It also does a good job of attaching horse shoes to plastic hooves!
All these glues can be found at hobby shops such as Hobby Lobby and Michaels. I usually buy the Loctite at Target and I'm pretty sure you could get most of them at Walmart as well. Tandy and the Leather Factory carry the Leathercraft Cement.
Although I'm pretty happy with what I'm using now, but I'm always open to trying new things. If you've tried something not listed here and think it's wonderful, please let me know about it.