It’s monsoon season here in Colorado, and lately I have gotten caught riding in several tremendous downpours. I hear Copper Penny, the big hunter/jumper show in Estes Park, got drenched last week as well! Fortunately for my clients, their saddles are well coated in laderbalsam from their cleaning routine and can withstand a bit of moisture without damage. My friend and I jumped for about 45 minutes in the pouring rain, wiped off our saddles with a soft rag, and the next day you would never know either saddle got wet and a little muddy!
Laderbalsam is a beeswax and lanolin based leather conditioner and protector that I, and many other professionals, recommend using on a weekly basis. After cleaning your tack thoroughly, you should apply a very thin layer all over. I like to use my fingertips for this. The heat from my hands helps thin the balsam, I can feel how much the leather needs to absorb, and it works well as a lotion! When applied correctly, there is no need to wipe it off. Some people like to use a rag or sponge, but I find it’s too easy to glob on too thick that way. I prefer the Effax brand, and it is what we sell at Singing Cat Saddlery, but there are many great laderbalsams on the market. Look for a natural product that is thick and waxy.
In addition to helping make your leather water-resistant, laderbalsam conditions, prevents and fills minor scuffs and scratches, and makes your saddle a little bit stickier. If you have never ridden in a saddle with a good coating of laderbalsam, the tacky feeling of the seat is typically a nice surprise. I compare the grip level to slightly broken-in full seat breeches.
So next time your horse is mud-colored and it’s threatening to rain, worry not! If you are keeping up with your tack cleaning regimen, your saddle will be just fine! Just watch out for the lightening, and hail!