Spring cleaning in the stable - the right leather care

Frühjahrsputz im Stall - Die richtige Lederpflege
Leather care seems to divide the equestrian world into two camps. Team Putzteufel or Team Passtschon? Some find it almost meditative to clean their tack and do it with absolute dedication and others are almost proud of never having to care for it and successfully keep it going for years. The fact is, however, that there is usually no more expensive purchase in the life of a horse/rider than the right tack. Bridles can be purchased in a price range from under a hundred to over 500 euros and the saddle is easily worth the purchase price of a used small car. With these amounts of money, a little cleaning can't hurt...

Why should I care for my tack?

Most of the accessories on our horses are made of leather. Above all, the saddle, the bridle and, if necessary, breastplates or auxiliary reins. Leather is a natural product and susceptible to external influences. Wetness in the form of rain or high humidity, horse sweat, long periods of dryness, sunlight, sand, mud and of course daily wear and tear take a toll on even the highest quality leather over time. Neglected leather therefore becomes brittle more quickly and poses a high safety risk for rider and horse. Torn reins, stirrup leathers or girth straps pose an enormous potential for accidents, especially since they always give up at the most inopportune moment... Care and cleaning not only contributes to the better appearance of our leather equipment, but also to its longevity.

How often should I care for my tack?

This depends, among other things, on how much the tack is used. If it is only used once or twice a week, a basic cleaning once a month is sufficient. If you use your equipment every day, you should remove coarse dirt every week and carry out more thorough care every two weeks. However, if the tack gets wet, you should always act immediately to protect the leather from future cracks.

What should I put attention on?

Most saddles and bridles are made of smooth leather. However, if you have a saddle made of suede or a synthetic material, you will need to purchase special care products.

What do I need for proper leather care?

It is best to prepare a small box or bucket that is always ready to hand in the stable. For care you need the following:
  • Saddle buck
  • Bucket
  • Sponge (without rough surfaces!)
  • Soft brush or small cloth
  • Soft clean cloth
  • Leather cleaner (saddle soap etc.)
  • Leather care (grease, oil, balm, ...)
  • Woolen cloth

Take apart yes or no?

Yes! If you really want to do it thoroughly, disassemble your tack. The places where the buckles are located in particular should be cared for, as this is where the leather bends and is therefore subjected to more stress. So if you have a little more time left, it doesn't hurt to unbuckle the stirrups and straps and also disassemble the bridle into its individual parts. If you like doing puzzles, you'll definitely have a lot of fun putting the bridle together afterwards... you'll find out whether you've made it the next time you put it on. ;-)

How to do it right?

Step One: Soap and Water (Cleaner)
With a little water and saddle cleaner, the coarse dirt is removed with a sponge. Be sure to lift the saddle flaps, turn them over and clean the upholstery. These come into contact with the saddle pad and thus with the horse's sweat, which can permanently wear down the leather. In general, it is important not to use too much water, as this softens the leather and makes it brittle when it dries. Attention: the sponge should be washed out again and again, especially if there is a lot of coarse dirt (sand, mud) on the tack. Otherwise the small dirt particles act like sandpaper and make ugly scratches in the leather!
Step two: drying
The next step is to take a soft cloth and dry the entire saddle and bridle thoroughly. This step is often missed, but it is very important. If you apply the leather care product directly to the saddle while it is still damp, you will retain too much moisture in the leather, which can cause it to swell and expand. This creates unsightly wrinkles later and makes the leather vulnerable.
Step Three: Care with balm, fat or oil
Saddlers use a soft brush and apply the leather care product in a thin, even layer. The advantage of the brush is that you can get under the saddle flap very easily and usually don't apply too much. But you can also use a soft cloth.

Should you also care for the seat?

Yes! Of course, the seat of the saddle should also be embalmed. We sit on this and put a lot of strain on the leather. Here too, however, the following applies: in moderation, not in masses! Of course, it doesn't make sense to grease the seat directly before riding. The care product should best be absorbed for 10-20 minutes and then removed with a cloth or allowed to absorb overnight, this will also protect the white competition trousers from stains.

Should you grease the girth straps, stirrup leathers and reins?

Clear yes! Most saddlers recommend that you go over it a little with the residue that remains on the slightly dried brush or cloth. However, explicit greasing or even oiling is not recommended, as this will soften and stretch the leather. This can result in uneven stirrup leathers and girth straps and the reins become too flexible. So be very economical with the straps!
Step Four: The Finish!
If you want to make your equipment particularly shiny, you can now polish it with a wool cloth and rub off the leather care product after 10-20 minutes of exposure. This also has the advantage that not too much care is left on the tack and there are no residues.

Which products should I use?

The market is full of cleansers, combination products, balms, fats and oils and everyone has their preferences. However, it is worth taking a look at the ingredients because: The saddlery lies directly on the horse's body in some places and this means that the substances in leather care get directly onto and into the horse's skin. It's not uncommon for allergic reactions to occur and even if there isn't an obvious problem right away, there are some substances that it's better not to let on your horse.
How do I recognize good leather care?
Good care should not rub off, leave no residue and should ideally be adapted to the PH value of leather.
Less is more and what I don't want on my body shouldn't end up on my horse. Mineral oils and petroleum are unnecessary for good care and also harm the environment. The often recommended glycerin soap is also worth taking a closer look at, because conventional glycerin is a synthetic by-product of petroleum chemistry and is not necessary for good cleaning.

Our product recommendation, which convinced us without exception during testing:

The 100% natural leather care from Sterling Essentials .
It nourishes and protects the leather with a mixture of natural beeswax and essential oils and is specially tailored to the pH value of leather to keep it supple for a long time. Its glycerin- and petroleum-free formula makes it ideal for sensitive horses (and people). It is absorbed immediately, does not stick and leaves no unsightly residue - all that remains is the pleasant scent of floral citrus, lavender or eucalyptus.
All three versions smell great and the conditioner can even be used as a hand balm. Our favorite smell is Floral Citrus !

You may also like View all