When you make an investment in a quality leather saddle and tack, you want to use only the best leather care so it will last for a long time. While providing the best leather care for saddles and tack takes plenty of hard work and the proper materials, enjoying your beautiful leather saddle for decades rather than just years will make it worth the effort. Just like your skin, if you ignore it, the leather will not age gracefully. Saddles are exposed to the harsh elements of the weather, which cause them to lose their natural oils and dry up. The harder the leather becomes, the more likely it is that it will crack or split. So what do you need to do? It should be your priority to properly clean and maintain your leather to keep it beautiful.
PREPARING THE SADDLE AND TACK
First things first, you need to get your tack ready for cleaning. All of the buckles will need to be unbuckled to allow you to get to all areas of the leather. If you are unsure where the buckles go for the perfect fit, make a quick note of their placement to save you the hassle down the road of figuring it out.
SADDLE CLEANING AND CONDITIONING
Just like you shake out your rugs before you vacuum them, you’ll want to get the loose dirt off of the leather. A simple clean cloth with water will suffice. Once the loose dirt is removed using a tack sponge, apply a leather cleaner, like Chamberlain’s Straight Cleaner No. 2, in slow, circular motions. Get out your glasses if you need to, because you don’t want to miss the areas in the folds of the leather. Once your leather is clean, it’s time to condition. This step is crucial, so do not try to cut corners. Especially after using an alcohol-based leather cleaner, without a good leather conditioner, your leather will begin to dry and crack. Use Chamberlain’s Leather Care Liniment No. 1 to finish up by replenishing the leather’s natural oils or Chamberlain’s Water Protectant No. 3 to replenish the oils and protect the leather.
GETTING RID OF MOLD ON LEATHER SADDLES
Now we need to talk about mold because leather saddles and tack are particularly susceptible to it. Use an evenly distributed mixture of water and rubbing alcohol on a clean cloth to remove any mold. Wipe gently and make sure to find a well-ventilated area to do this so that the fumes of the alcohol as well as the mold spores do not get inhaled. If you prefer a commercial cleaner, try Chamberlain’s Straight Cleaner No 2. Our powerful cleaner will eliminate the mold while gently cleaning your leather. Once you have finished cleaning your tack, again make sure to follow it up with a leather conditioner to ensure that it does not dry out and crack.
Sterling Essentials line of leather cleaner and conditioner has quickly risen to the top of my list. Not only do these products smell amazing (the lavender and floral citrus scents are my favorite), but they’re made from a blend of natural food-grade products and therapeutic essential oils. Don’t be fooled – these all-natural ingredients are heavy duty. They keep my saddle free from mold, water damage and mildew. Plus the price is right, at $16.95 for the cleaner and $19.95 for the conditioner. Visit sterling-essentials.com
Effax Leather Balsam
Effax is a household name when it comes leather cleaners and conditioners. Made in Germany, this leather balsam will extend the life of your leather. It’s made with lanolin, bee’s wax and caring oils, which gives tack a great shine and a moisture-repellent effect. Get a 500-milliliter container for $16.95. Find it here.SEE ALSO
SmartPak Leather Lover
I love this balm-type cleaner and conditioner combo from SmartPak. One $12.95, 12-ounce container of Leather Love lasts forever. It’s my go-to natural cleaner for on-the-spot jobs, say after a really sweaty ride or when I get caught in the rain during a hack. It lives in my tack trunk full-time, and I use it around the barn and also at the shows, when my bridle could use just a little extra gleam before a flat class. I also love the lavender-lemon scent. Visit smartpakequine.com.
Tattersall Soap Leather Cleaner
This no-mess cleaner is the soap above all soaps. It easily cuts through the thickest gunk and grime, leaving your saddle looking smooth and clean. Best of all, there’s no sticky film leftover. Plus one 305-gm container seems like it lasts forever. Pick it up for $14.95.