There is much more to riding horses than the actual leisure. Horseback riding, whether it is done as a hobby or as a profession, is a lot of work. Taking care of the horse and barn can be time consuming and expensive. Cleaning horse tack needs to happen on a regular basis, and a quality saddle cleaner and leather conditioner will make the process easy and effective.
Horse tack and leather saddle care
Leather saddles and horse tack get extremely dirty, both from barn storage and from sweat, dirt and dust from the horse and rider. It's important to clean your leather tack after every ride, and you should condition leather horse tack and saddles at least every six months.
How to clean and condition a saddle and tack
- Get your saddle ready for cleaning
- Gently dust off any loose dirt or mud
- Apply leather cleaner
- Allow the leather to dry completely
- Apply leather conditioner
1. Get your saddle ready for cleaning
Before the cleaning begins, the non-leather parts of the saddle should be removed. The irons can soak in a bucket of soap and warm water while you clean the leather of the saddle. Leather stirrups can be cleaned the same way that the saddle is cleaned, just separately.
2. Gently dust off any loose dirt or mud
Using a dry rag or soft brush, gently remove any debris from the surface of the leather — you don't want to clean the leather if there is loose dirt on the surface, as that will just turn to mud when mixed with the cleaning solution.
3. Apply leather cleaner
Using a clean, lint-free cloth, gently wipe down the leather, concentrating on especially stained or soiled areas. You should not have to rub too hard, as the cleaner will quickly and easily remove dirt and stains. It is important not to soak the saddle or oversaturated the leather; a little bit of cleaner goes a long way and you can gently clean the leather in circular motions all over the saddle.
4. Allow the leather to dry completely
It is very important to allow the leather to dry before moving on to the next step, which is to condition. Barns are often humid environments, which can promote mold and mildew growth. If you condition wet leather, you can lock in moisture, which can contribute to additional mildew. Give the leather adequate time to dry after cleaning.
5. Apply leather conditioner
Once the leather is dry, you can apply a thin, even coat of conditioner. Put the conditioner on another lint-free cloth, then gently apply to all leather areas of the saddle. You should not need too much conditioner, especially if you condition the saddle every six months as directed. Generally speaking, around four ounces should be enough. You can condition the stirrups and other leather tack the same way. Once the entire saddle is coated in conditioner, allow it to absorb for at least two hours (preferably overnight). If necessary, you can reapply a second coat.
Unlike other leather conditioners, Leather Honey will not make the leather slick or slippery, which is key to rider and horse safety.
How to store a leather saddle and tack
Once the leather is cleaned and conditioned and completely dry, you can store the saddle in a dry area. If you don't plan to use it for a while, cover the saddle loosely with breathable material, like a cotton sheet or bag, so that the leather can access air. You do not want to store leather saddles or tack in a plastic bag, as that can promote moisture. We recommend cleaning and conditioning before storage.
Ongoing saddle care and maintenance
How often a saddle is used will determine how regularly it will need to be cleaned and conditioned. It is also helpful to wipe down the saddle with a dry rag after every use so that dirt and dust do not sit on the leather overnight and penetrate into the pores. Dry leather is dangerous leather. Horseback riders must take every step of precaution to ensure a safe ride. On top of safety reasons, regular cleans and conditions will help keep the saddle looking new even after years of use.
Looking for more leather care guides? Check out our blog: How to Soften A Leather Bridle
Complete Leather Care Kits
Convenient kits include everything you need
Leather Honey’s non-toxic leather cleaner does not contain drying agents which take away moisture. It is effective on all types of leather plus faux leather, vinyl, and polyurethane – anything except suede. Leather Honey's non-toxic conditioner is safe for all genuine leather but suede, and will deeply condition your leather saddle, extending its life so you can pass it down to the next generation of riders.
With our product bundles, you get our Leather Honey premium conditioner, Leather Honey cleaner, and 2 application cloths.
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We have done extensive testing of your product and it came through with flying colors. We are going to include Leather Honey in our book, The Encyclopedia of Saddle Making.”