Consistent care of saddles and strap goods will extend the life of your leather items. The phrase “kill with kindness” applies well to leather care. Although leather needs frequent cleaning and conditioning, it is also possible to over condition leather, which can be harmful. Leather needs to be cleaned well and sufficiently conditioned – without overdoing it.
Leather Care Product Recommendations
• Initial Oiling: Neatsfoot Oil (Use Neatsfoot Oil Compound if you want leather to darken or pure Neatsfoot Oil for less darkening)
• Saddle Soap & Leather Cleaners: Beval branded, Belvoir, Castile Soap, Effax, Leather New, Lexol Cleaner, Tattersall
• Conditioners: Beval Branded, Effax, Leather Therapy, Lexol, Flexilan
• Restoring Older Equipment: Ko-Cho- Line, Leather Therapy Restorer and Conditioner
• Most leather equipment will benefit from an initial oiling, especially to the flesh side – this gives a first conditioning to the leather. We do not recommend oiling oakbark stirrup leathers, since they are made from leather with ample lubrication. Suede should not be oiled.
• When applying, oil should be at room temperature or warmed slightly so that it is comfortable to the touch. Apply oil sparingly with a piece of sheepskin or paint brush. With saddles, apply oil to all surfaces, especially the flesh side where it will permeate leather well.
• After lubricating, if the flaps of the saddle feel stiff, the flaps can be rolled a few times so that the oil can do its job and loosen leather fibers to create suppleness. Do not overdo this, as it can make flaps too loose and prone to bunch under your leg.
• Allow saddle to sit overnight to give the oil a chance to soak in and the color a chance to even out. We recommend wearing jeans when first riding in a newly oiled saddle, as there will always be some residue of oil, no matter how well it wipes off.
• Good quality British bridles initially need only a light oiling on the flesh side.
• Never soak strapgoods in oil for any length of time.
• You can equate the care of leather goods to the care of your own skin – they must be kept clean, soft and moisturized.
• After each use, leather equipment should be wiped off with a damp sponge, especially the underside, to remove sweat and dirt build up.
• Depending on how often you ride, you should clean and lubricate your saddle and bridle on a regular basis.
Cleaning is a Four-Step Process
• Soap: Use a wet tack sponge and your preferred saddle soap or leather cleaner. Work up a foam lather that will surround the dirt on your equipment and loosen it from the surface.
• Rinse: Clean the dirt and soap away using a sponge (cleaned thoroughly in fresh water).
Make sure all soap is removed.
• Dry: Let the saddle air dry for a few minutes, or towel-dry if necessary to remove excess water.
• Finish: Choose a fresh, clean sponge for the finishing work as it is difficult to fully clean the dirt off of a used sponge. If the leather is a bit dry, apply a small amount of conditioner with a fresh, dry sponge. You may choose to complete the process by applying a small amount of glycerine saddle soap in small circular motions for a rich finish.
Daily care and cleaning is the best way to ensure the long life of all your leather equipment!