Leather Care, Conditioning and Cleaning
Did you know that the hide on your saddle and tack needs the same care as the hide on your hands? You have a $1,000-plus investment on top of the “best horse anyone ever had” and you must take good care of it. Restoring leather is a difficult, if not impossible job that can be easily avoided with proper maintenance.
Beyond this, many people do not realize the harmful effects of dry leather on their horse. Chafing and rubbing from dry, stiff leather can create raw spots on your horse. It is extremely important that tack is completely pliable before being put on a horse. Do your horse a favor and make sure all leather that comes into contact with its skin is soft and pliable.
Leather deteriorates largely by four means:
- Oxidation is most readily seen in very old, dry leather. The leather shows surface cracking and flaking, and over-all weakness. Eventually oxidation will turn leather to dust. The only way to stop oxidation is application of an inert dressing to coat the fibers.
- Chemical damage can be caused by the effect of ultraviolet light, ozone, acidic pollutants in the air, or through chemical action following treatment with improper compounds. Both oxidation and chemical damage occur faster at higher temperatures. Leather should be stored away from heat, and not needlessly exposed to sunlight.
- Internal wear or breaking of fibers occurs when dry leather is flexed. A lubricant is essential to allow the fibers to slide one against the other.
- Abrasion can be caused by friction or dirt particles ground into the leather.
Once a month, or more often if you live in a dry climate or have a particularly sweaty horse, you should apply a suppling preparation such as Neatsfoot oil. Oil should be applied after the leather has been cleaned but before it has been sealed with saddle soap. This should be applied to the underside of the leather only, as it will come off on your clothing if applied to the top. Particular attention should be applied to the saddle as this can become hard and brittle which in turn will leave your horse rubbed and sore. Plenty of oil on the girth straps will make them easier to do up as well as lengthening their working life. Never put oil on the seat of your saddle.
Neatsfoot oil Preserves Leather
Through the years many methods of preserving leather have been tried; however, nothing equals or does a better job than NEATSFOOT OIL and NEATSFOOT OIL does not rot stitching.
Penetrates & Protects
Many products darken leather. NEATSFOOT OIL gives only a slight color change to the leather. There is excellent penetration to provide the protection needed for the investment in leather.
Notes for Owners of New Tack
Pre-oil all new tack before using it. Coat the underside of the leather at least three times, letting the oil soak in between coats. Rolling the leather gently between your hands can help the oil to soak in. Follow with saddle soap as directed above. When the tack is supple enough it will feel like you’ve owned it for years!