The majority of us agree that tack and other leather equestrian products must be cleaned, ideally after every ride. Most of us don't !
Leather is a natural product that has been around for hundreds of years. It provides one of the world's most unique, durable and luxurious materials for saddles and many other products. If looked after and cared for in the correct way, leather investments can last for many years.
Leather is a skin, with fibres and pores that require correct care and maintenance to be able to breathe. The key to maintaining the useful life of saddles and leather products is to restore them with natural oils.
Products containing harmful chemicals, such as, petroleum or alcohol cam be harmful. These products are noticeably lower in price. They can cause damage to fibres, stitching and glues.
Basic saddle soap, or liquid cleanser, is the first step to gaining a healthier hide. The most essential part of leather care is getting the dirt out of the leather pores and as long as the soap-suds keep turning grey, you need to keep cleaning. Cleaning with saddle soap will also help put oil back into the leather.
Conditioning leather is only necessary if it is thirty. For example after a cross country event where the horse would of sweated or entered water.
Leather does not do well if left to dry out. It becomes brittle, weak and unsafe. If the leather has become wet let it dry out slowly not from direct heat like a radiator.
If you buy a new bridle or piece of leather a good tip to top up its oil content. Dismantle the bridle, choose a quality oil and apply with a brush all over. Place in a plastic bag and put somewhere warm but not hot. Leave for 12 to 24 hours and wipe any excess oil off. Use a quality soap and massage in the leather. Assemble and use!
With saddles try not to over oil the panels under the saddle. They may be filled with wool flock or felt and could become saturated.
If you need to store your leather try to keep them in a dry area that does not get damp. Hang up saddle and bridle racks. These keep the air circulating round the tack. Use saddle covers and bridle bags to keep dust and dirt away.