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.

Weekly Tack Deep Clean

Once a week, all your nice leather needs to be cleaned with a properly formulated soap and then conditioned with a balsam.  I personally like VeruGreen’s spray soap, and of course use Effax’s Leder Balsam to protect and condition my leather.  DO NOT use a glycerine soap on your English tack!  Those products are formulated for Western tack, which is tanned using a different process and requires different care.  The wrong soap will fade the leather, and destroy the stitching holding your tack together.

If you do a good job wiping the sweat and dust off after each ride, then a deep clean will only take a matter of minutes.  Cleaning this very dirty girth only takes me ten minutes total!  So put on your favorite podcast, playlist, or tv show, and get cleaning!