The most important aspect of saddle care is that the life of the leather depends upon the care you give it. Most saddles experience the tough rigors of the environment, and proper care is essential to prolong their life.
- Oil with the best oils and leather conditioners available to you.
- SHOW or LIGHT COLORED SADDLES: oil the back of the leather and not the top because the leather can darken. Make sure you’re using a leather conditioner product that is specifically for light leather and that it will not darken the leather.
- ROUGHOUT: Roughout leather is extremely porous and behaves differently than the grain side. In our experience, it WILL be darkened by what you apply to it, sometimes permanently to a degree, sometimes temporarily. To clean roughout, it should be brushed with a stiff brush (we have even used a wire brush on an all roughout saddle, carefully). This will help get the dirt out of the pores and bring back the nap of the roughout. Applying neatsfoot oil to roughout will initially darken the leather dramatically, but will eventually lighten as the product is absorbed. If you are concerned about darkening the roughout, we suggest treating it from the BACKSIDE (grain side) with the Doc Tuckers. This way it will absorb the product to condition the leather but since you didn’t put it directly on the roughout side, it should not drastically darken it.
- If your saddle gets wet, clean all leather parts that have been exposed to sweat and moisture, let dry naturally, and oil.
- Do not use artificial heat or direct sunlight to dry leather or it may become brittle and lose its strength. Leather which has been burned through this process should no longer be used.
BRAND NEW: Every new High Horse® saddle has been oiled and then finished with a protective finish, which means you don’t need to oil it for about six months. If you’re riding a lot in dry or variable weather conditions, you should oil it sooner.
ROUTINE CLEANING: Unbuckle every buckle on your saddle and tack. Before you start cleaning, remove as much dust and dirt as possible with an air compressor or damp cloth. Leather is a natural material with pores so removal of debris will prevent grinding it into the crevices. Ideally, your saddle should be wiped down after each ride.
- Remove dust with a vacuum cleaner or a damp cloth and water.
- Blot spots immediately, do not let them soak into the leather-many stains will tend to disappear a few days after they have occurred. Some darkening can be expected.
- Let dry naturally-exposure to intense heat sources is not recommended.
- SUEDE: Use only a cleaner specially designed for the care of suede leather. Suede should be dusted or vacuum cleaned free of dust and dirt, brushed with a stiff brush to bring back the nap, and spot cleaned with a damp cloth. A conditioner of any kind would probably “glue” the nap and you would lose the texture of the suede. Most saddle leather products tell you not to use it on suede.
PRODUCTS WE LIKE
- Use specific leather care products made for cleaning and conditioning leather and follow the instructions – use regularly to keep leather soft and supple. We like a liquid, glycerin-based saddle soap to remove mud, grime, mold, and mildew such as Doc Tucker’s Leather Cleaner and Conditioner. Follow with a leather conditioner.
- DO NOT use cleaning products unless specifically designed for leather.
- DO NOT USE: baby wipes, olive or mink oil, turpentine, mineral spirits, waxes, silicones, solvents, bleach
- High Horse® silver is sterling silver electroplated and has a protective finish to prevent tarnishing-clean with a damp cloth only. Abrasive or chemical cleaners should not be used because they could result in removal of the protective finish.
- With normal use, saddle silver will be subject to scratches which may allow tarnishing. Use a soft cloth to buff away any tarnish.
STORE YOUR SADDLE
- After your saddle has been thoroughly cleaned, oiled, conditioned, and air dried, a climate-controlled area is the best place to keep equipment when not in use. If that’s not available, choose a cool, dry location away from heat and sunlight.
- Never place leather tack in a plastic bag or airtight plastic trunk as this keeps the leather from breathing.
- Mold and mildew can form on leather tack when exposed to high humidity.
- Wipe down the leather everywhere you see the mold/mildew with a glycerin-based saddle soap.
- You’ll be stirring up mold spores when cleaning the tack, so tackle this task outdoors or in a well-ventilated environment. It may take a couple of applications depending on the amount of mold on the saddle.
- Let it dry and then apply a leather conditioner.
7 SECRETS OF SADDLE CARE
- Do not store saddles in plastic bags or other non-porous covers.
- Allow a wet or damp saddle to air-dry naturally away from sources of heat. Apply a little leather conditioner when the saddle is nearly dry to restore flexibility. Condition thoroughly when the saddle is completely dried.
- To prevent mildew, protect the saddle from excessive humidity. In a dry environment, regularly condition the leather to prevent the saddle from drying out and cracking.
- Do not use waxes, silicone, or other preparations that impair the ability of leather to breathe.
- Greases should not be used because they seal the pores, picking up additional dust and dirt and slowing drying time.
- Never use caustic household chemicals to clean leather. Avoid preparations that contain alcohol, turpentine, or mineral spirits.
- Do not use mink or animal fats. They will darken leather. Animal fat can also turn rancid to cause the stitching and leather to rot.