Whether you’re riding leather or synthetic, English or Australian, protecting and properly maintaining your saddle can add years, even decades, to the life of your saddle.
If you dig around a little you will find an abundance of information concerning saddle care. The trouble is, nearly every piece of advice seems to also come with a backdoor pitch for the latest oil, more effective brushes, or a new type of sealant. Let’s avoid name-brand products and clever acronyms and distill all the information down to a few key steps that will help your saddle last.
Keep it relatively clean
As the saddle becomes oily and/or dusty take a stiff bristled brush to it. If you’re having a hard time reaching smaller cracks an old toothbrush can do the trick. If you begin to notice that the buildup isn’t reducing simply with a brush, you can wash your leather or synthetic saddle with warm soapy water.
When it’s wet
If your saddle gets wet, clean all the exposed parts with a brush or a rag and let it air dry naturally, out of direct sunlight. Saddles dried from heat source can begin to crack and lose their structure.
Hang it, don’t toss it
The ‘tree’ of the saddle, or inner structure, can be easily damaged if a saddle is not stored properly. A hung saddle, perched from a rack or rail, ensures the saddle will keep its shape. After hanging the saddle, toss a blanket or saddle cover on it to keep it clean and free of dust.
Leather saddle care tidbits
As we all know a properly cared for leather saddle can outlast the best synthetic materials, however, there is more maintenance involved with a leather care. In addition to cleaning the saddle, leather requires oils and sealants to keep it pliable and protected. The frequency and ratio of oil to sealant depends on your climate. Dryer climates need oils applied more frequently while more moist conditions will require sealants more often.
Make sure you NEVER…
- Never store a saddle in plastic or non-porous bag.
- Never use household chemicals to clean leather.
- Avoid oils or sealants that contain alcohol, turpentine, or mineral spirits.
- Never use mink or animal fats on a leather saddle.
There is no secret trick to saddle care. But horse tack is expensive and the better you care for it, the longer you’ll be able to use it.