Cleaning Your Equipment:
Neglected saddlery can significantly worsen the performance of the horse and rider, so caring for your saddlery should be an everyday task. Leather has a daily battle to keep supple against such opposition as water, heat, and neglect and in order to win, it must be cleaned regularly to replace all lost fats and oils.
The aim during cleaning is to remove dried dirt and sweat, which block the pores on the flesh side (the underside, which is the breathing part of the leather) and replenish it with leather oil and saddle soap. Poor care will cause sores and pressure points on the horse and weaken the leather.
How to Get the Best Results:
First, take your tack completely apart, which will enable you to clean every part of the leather. Then prepare a bowl of warm (not hot!) water, a sponge, and a cloth. Wet and wring the sponge out well. Wash off all the dried dirt and sweat; a lot of elbow grease may be necessary depending on how dirty the tack is. A small amount of a non-glycerine-based leather cleaning soap may help. (Glycerin soap seals the leather’s pores, and when applied before cleaning can trap dirt in the leather.) Pay particular attention to any part that has been inside a buckle or under the belly of the horse as these places will be hiding all sorts of ground in dirt. When you are completely satisfied that you have removed all traces of grime, take a slightly damp cloth and using glycerine saddle soap rub well into both sides of the leather.
Once a month, or more often if you live in a dry climate or have a particularly sweaty horse, you should apply a suppling preparation such as Neatsfoot oil. Oil should be applied after the leather has been cleaned but before it has been sealed with saddle soap. This should be applied to the underside of the leather only, as it will come off on your clothing if applied to the top. Particular attention should be applied to the saddle as this can become hard and brittle which in turn will leave your horse rubbed and sore. Plenty of oil on the girth straps will make them easier to do up as well as lengthening their working life. Never put oil on the seat of your saddle.
Products we suggest;
Fieblings saddle soap (glycerin)
Fieblings Neatsfoot oil
Leather Therapy- Wash
Leather Therapy- Restorer Conditioner
Albion- Beeswax conditioner, Fairfax- Rapide Leather gel, Sedwicks conditioner, Effax conditioner
Notes for Owners of New Tack:
Pre-oil all new tack before using it. Coat the underside of the leather at least three times, letting the oil soak in between coats. Rolling the leather gently between your hands can help the oil to soak in. Follow with saddle soap as directed above. When the tack is supple enough it will feel like you’ve owned it for years!
Memel, Nordic, Buffalo, and Vintage Leathers:
If you are lucky enough to have a saddle made from the leathers above, the guidelines for caring for your tack differ slightly. These leathers are tanned using a unique process that pre-oils the leather to help it to repel water, breathe, and remain soft. When a complete saddle is made from these leathers the result will be a lighter, softer saddle with more pliable flaps and skirts that mold quickly to the shape of the horse and rider. Less maintenance is required; in fact, traditional dressings are needed only sparsely. Simply wipe over the saddle with a damp cloth to remove dirt as discussed before, then follow with a small amount of a bees wax based conditioner (to cover any scuff marks). Leave the tack to dry naturally and finish by polishing with a soft cloth. Your pre oiled leather will need a re-oiling with neatsfoot twice a year.
Patent or Stingray:
Simply wipe off with a warm, damp cloth. Be careful not to scratch the leather, as this cosmetic damage cannot be repaired.
Nubuck, Suede, and other Specialty Leathers:
Lightly oil these leathers with a light vegetable oil. Never use leather balm as it will flatten the nap of the leather. If these leathers stain or seem dry, then brush to re-establish the surface with a stiff or suede brush.
Synthetic leather may be wiped down with water. For deeper cleaning, dish soap works just as well as cleaner made specifically for synthetics.
For all questions/concerns or product recommendations regarding the care of your saddle, please contact the office at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-294-6757. We are happy to help advise with the care of your saddle.
Notes on Leather:
Leather is a unique product, it is a natural material made from animal hide. In their lives, animals may receive scratches and blemishes which are part of the hide, these do not compromise the product in any way, and they add character to the product. We avoid using leather with scars that may weaken it, and as our saddles are all handmade in the UK, the colors of the leather may vary at times as may the actual look of the product. You are buying a "one off" item that is handmade, not production line made, so each will be a little different. The manufacturing of saddles, can at times call for the leather to be shaped wet and this sometimes results in small amounts of wrinkling, this is part of the product and is not a fault. Also requesting extra soft or soft seat may result in wrinkling in the seat area. This is a result of the use of a soft material that changes shape and the leather seat is then attached over a soft base. Good care of your saddlery includes refitting and care of the flocking. Caring for your saddle includes refitting it yearly, soft wool panels compress and form to your horse, these need adjustment. After a few years the wool becomes dirt laden and greasy. When your panel feels hard or lumpy you need to get it stripped out and reflocked.