Saddle Care 101

Since I get asked this a lot, I thought I should make a post containing all the basic information on saddle care in one place.

Products I Use

  • Effax Leder balsam (any brand is fine, look for beeswax/lanolin)
  • Effax Leder combi
  • VeruGreen Naturals Leather Cleaner, or any other pH balanced soap specifically designed for English tack (Lexol also makes one)
  • Hydrophane oil

Products to Avoid

  • Any oil except Hydrophane
    • Other oils will weaken/wreck vegetable tanned leather
    • Neatsfoot and other tack oils are for Western tack
    • Only hydrophane oil will preserve English tack
    • In a pinch, you can use corn oil!
  • Glycerine based soaps
    • Again, they are for Western tack
    • They may strip the dyes from you tack
    • They may leave a nasty residue on your tack
    • They will shorten the lifespan of vegetable tanned leather

Brand New Saddle (or Bridle, Girth, etc):

  • Wipe with a barely damp cloth
  • Using your fingertips, coat the entire thing with leder balsam to condition and protect it

After Every Ride

  • Wipe off all the sweat, dust, and moisture with either a barely damp cloth or leder combi
  • Do not store your girth on top of your saddle; the sweat left on the girth with erode the seat
  • Hang your bridle nicely to prolong its useful life
  • Wipe gunk off the bit to prevent it from building up

Once a Week

  • Clean thoroughly with a barely damp sponge and your pH balanced soap, wiping away all soap residue
  • Clean the billets weekly, but only oil or balsam them monthly or they will stretch
  • Using your fingertips, apply a very thin layer of leder balsam
  • If the leather is very dry, use your finger tips to apply a small amount of hydrophane oil instead of leder balsam

Please let me know if you have questions or want more information by leaving a comment.  I intend to keep working on the video series as I have time, including tips for oiling, for show boots, etc.

Wiping Down Your Tack

Wiping down your tack after every ride is essential for the longevity of your saddle, girth, bridle, and all other leather parts!  If it is made of leather, sweat and dirt will erode it over time.  A quick wipe down also prevents sand from scratching the leather, and in more humid climates an anti-mildew formula can be used.

Wiping down your tack- so easy, even a preschooler can do it!

Effax makes a very nice leder-combi daily cleaner/conditioner for a quick and easy wipe down, and they make a mildew formula in a spray bottle too.  But even a damp, clean cloth is fine!  The important thing is that you remove the dirt, sweat, and excess moisture before putting away your tack.  Plus, it makes your weekly deep-clean and condition a lot easier!