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View Full Version : How do YOU care for your tack?



ake987
Jul. 20, 2011, 08:58 PM
I just bought a used Amerigo Pinerolo Event CC Monoflap saddle, and I'll be damned if I don't keep it in pristine (used) condition! All I've ever known is saddle soap and neatsfoot oil, but every person at my barn has a different opinion on the best way to clean and care for you tack. What's yours?

PS - Got the saddle through Ann of Equestrian Imports and I just wanted to say she is fabulous to work with. In every way.

lucyeq
Jul. 20, 2011, 09:23 PM
I clean my saddle with MOSS saddle soap or glycerin every other day or so. Very little water, lots of soap. I only neatsfoot every six months or as it needs it.

DressageOverFences
Jul. 20, 2011, 09:31 PM
I use neatsfoot oil the first time on leather, but I have never had to reapply after that unless the leather wasnt very nice. But an Amerigo should only need one day of oiling. For care, I sponge off the saddle with a bit of water and stubbon soap/natural tea tree oil soap every ride. About once a week I put a small bit of Passier Lederbalsam. This is my favorite stuff in the world!

also, always keep a cover on your saddle, make sure the saddle rests on a saddle pad on the saddle stand so it doesnt get any weird indents or scratches, and blow off the dust that falls on your saddle from the cross ties to the arena before you get on to prevent dirt getting worked in. :)

ake987
Jul. 20, 2011, 09:47 PM
Thanks for your responses! Someone watching me clean my tack the other day told me "You're not supposed to put water on leather!" and also informed me that I was using too much soap. :confused::confused::confused:

I felt like an idiot..

Any favorite leather conditioners beside the one mentioned? How often to condition? I loved the comment about brushing off between saddling and getting on, I never thought about that!

eventer_mi
Jul. 20, 2011, 10:05 PM
I've always been told to treat it like your skin - keep it clean (dirt is an abrasive) and moisturize when necessary.

I clean my bridle more diligently than my saddles, because the bridle comes in contact with sweat and dirth more than the saddle does. after a ride, I will wipe down with a damp sponge, use a little saddle saddle soap/cleaner, and every other day use some Leather Therapy to keep the leather soft and supple. Saddle gets the same treatment. About once a month (more often during winter when it's very dry out), I will take my tack home, pull it apart, clean all the nooks and crannies, and use Passier Lederbalsam and really work it in with my fingers and palms (warms up the balsam) for a deep conditioning treatment. I will say that every saddle/consignment shop I've sold tack to has commented on how lovely my leather is and how well-conditioned everything is.

I think at the barest minimum, you should take a damp sponge to your tack to remove the sweat and dust/dirt, which will abrade it. But then, I'm a bit anal about my tack!

Big_Grey_hunter
Jul. 20, 2011, 10:06 PM
Passier lederbalsam is wonderful stuff. It is much better for tack than neatsfoot oil, especially high quality leather.

I try to clean all my tack at least every week with glycerine soap. Squeeze out every possible drop of water and don't use a ton of soap. You shouldn't be seeing a huge amount of suds. Wait a bit and buff with a soft cloth once all the moisture is dried.

ETA: A toothbrush works perfectly for cleaning hard to reach nooks and crannies

Next, I condition all my tack at least once a month (more if it feels dry, slippery, or stiff) with a bit of passier lederbalsam. Rub in as much as it will absorb (both sides of leather), working the leather with your hands. Leave the tack overnight and in the morning buff with a soft cloth. New, dry, or neglected tack I condition multiple times until it is where I want it, leaving a few days inbetween for all the lederbalsam to soak deep into the leather.

Congrats on the new saddle!

Equisis
Jul. 20, 2011, 11:04 PM
I clean each of my saddles a bit differently. My dressage saddle gets wiped down quickly after each use with a leather wipe or a damp sponge, and gets cleaned once every few weeks with saddle soap and conditioned with either Belvoir conditioner or Passier Lederbalsam. My close contact, on the other hand, gets briefly cleaned with saddle soap (plain glycerine soap) after each use and gets a deep cleaning and Lederbalsam once a week, left overnight to soak in. I used to oil it once or twice a year; now it only gets oiled if it gets soaked in a rainstorm or something similar (hasn't been oiled in a few years). Both saddles are kept in bags, as are my bridles.

I clean my girths and bridles daily as they are in contact with sweat and dirt and require more thorough cleaning on a daily basis. They get cleaned with either glycerine soap or Belvoir spray, and the bridles get taken apart once a week and thoroughly cleaned and conditioned or oiled. The bridles are the only pieces of tack I oil on a regular basis as I find that it keeps the leather hydrated and supple without getting gummy as some tend to get when they are over-conditioned.

The key is frequent, gentle cleaning and use of high-quality products that are good for the leather. Oil and some conditioners can rot stitching and should be used with care. Same goes for overuse of soap- it can build up on the leather and attract more dirt. My dressage saddle is over 10 years old and my close contact is 8 years old, and they are both in fantastic condition due to regular care. Same goes for my bridles- most of my bridles are fairly cheap ones and people often think they are much higher quality because they are so soft and smooth. Enjoy your new saddle!

Manni01
Jul. 21, 2011, 01:25 AM
Passier lederbalsam is wonderful stuff. It is much better for tack than neatsfoot oil, especially high quality leather.

I try to clean all my tack at least every week with glycerine soap. Squeeze out every possible drop of water and don't use a ton of soap. You shouldn't be seeing a huge amount of suds. Wait a bit and buff with a soft cloth once all the moisture is dried.

ETA: A toothbrush works perfectly for cleaning hard to reach nooks and crannies

Next, I condition all my tack at least once a month (more if it feels dry, slippery, or stiff) with a bit of passier lederbalsam.
Rub in as much as it will absorb (both sides of leather), working the leather with your hands. Leave the tack overnight and in the morning buff with a soft cloth. New, dry, or neglected tack I condition multiple times until it is where I want it, leaving a few days inbetween for all the lederbalsam to soak deep into the leather.


Congrats on the new saddle!

I agree!!

Its amazing how shiny and great looking leather can get when treated with the Passier Leather Balsam.
Have fun with your saddle!!

scubed
Jul. 21, 2011, 06:57 AM
old fashioned glycerine saddle soap and Stubben Hamanol leather conditioner. http://www.123tack.com/stubben-hamanol-leather-conditioner.html

I also like the Belvoir line: http://www.smartpakequine.com/SearchResults.aspx?page=GRID&free_text=belvoir&attribute_value_string|Store_ID=Equine That spray thing is great for everyday and I like the wipes for my bridle at shows.

OTTB FTW
Jul. 21, 2011, 09:04 AM
Wipe clean with damp nappy washcloth. Apply Mad Cow http://www.smartpakequine.com/mad-cow-leather-care-6612p.aspx?cm_vc=Search.
Next time cleaning - same thing. I don't rub the Mad Cow, or it gets whiteish. Just apply. I don't need to apply it more than once a month on my tack. The rest of the time I just wipe with a damp cloth.
Saddle is going on its 10th year of daily hard riding and eventing competition, and has been used on different horses over those 10 years. Still looks great. The directions when I got the saddle said apply a product like Mad Cow every day/time you ride for a month or so - initially, then as needed afterwards. I think Mad Cow is very similar to Passier Lederbalsam.
I don't like glycerine soap, seems like I get the tack too wet, and it leaves behind soap scum. I probably don't know how to use it properly lol. The Mad Cow has a bit of glycerine it seems, and the coating I apply is used as my "soap" the next time I wipe down. I find it makes tack shiny and conditioned.

Oberon13
Jul. 21, 2011, 09:22 AM
I wipe down everything after every ride with a damp cloth that has been wrung out COMPLETELY...seriously, just damp. I don't use soap after every ride...I don't want it building up in the leather. Imagine rubbing a light film of soap on your skin every day and leaving it there. I do like to use a cloth rather than a sponge, because the cloth goes home with me every few days to get tossed in the laundry. That way, I'm not rubbing the same dirt BACK onto the saddle/bridle/girth every day.

Once a month-ish, everything gets cleaned with damp cloth and very little soap, rubbed lightly (I'm not making suds or anything). Allowed to dry. Wiped off (get the film of soap off, if any). Then, conditioned with my bare hands...I do love the Passier Lederbalsam. Just a bit on my finger tips, rubbed into the leather. I like to work the leather with my hands as I rub, kind of roll it and bend it. Let it sit for a few minutes, then buff off with a CLEAN rag (the microfiber cloths are great...though, I have callouses on my hands from the farm work I do and my nails and cuticles aren't in the best condition, and the microfiber catches on them all...it feels HORRID in my hands, but it does buff up a saddle nicely).

LSM1212
Jul. 21, 2011, 09:30 AM
After every ride: Wipe down my bridle and saddle with damp rag/sponge

Once a week: Wipe down w/ Fiebing's soap (usually the weekends since I have more time)

Once a month: Take tack home, disassemble and clean all with a conditioner (Horseman's One Step). Clean bit in dishwasher. ;)

2x a year (mid winter/mid summer): Oil all tack (Hydrophane).

:D

nextyear
Jul. 21, 2011, 04:55 PM
[QUOTE=
Any favorite leather conditioners beside the one mentioned? How often to condition? I loved the comment about brushing off between saddling and getting on, I never thought about that![/QUOTE]

A friend that spent years riding in Germany told me about this years ago and has kept tack looking great and supple:

1 bar of saddle soap cut up 1 cup of whole milk put in microwave and melt ( start at 1 min and keep stirring and mixing until all melted and mixed together) then put in freezer overnight (you can also add a scent if you want, I'v used perfumes did not like enough to put on body). Keep a lid on it and will store in tack room for several months as long as it is not in 100 degree heat!
It works as well as any high priced products for pennies.
The other product I use when to lazy to make is the Leather Thearpy restorer & Conditioner.

Far_North_Equestrian
Jul. 21, 2011, 05:18 PM
Wow - you guys really are dilegent with the tack cleaning!

I have plastic saddles (wintecs) so they just get the dirt wiped off after every ride, I might hose them down a few times a year and use some leather conditioner on the leather billets of the dressage saddle.

Bridle gets a wipe if it get sweaty/dirty, and a good saddle soaping/buffing every couple months (less in winter, more in show season).

I like the old fasioned yellow saddle soap in a can. I was told the proper technique with this is to FIRST wipe off dirt with a damp cloth, then use just enough water to get the soap onto the sponge, not enoug to lather. Soap, then buff with a dry cloth.

Saskatoonian
Jul. 21, 2011, 05:19 PM
I spent years doing the "glycerine with very little water and occasional neatsfoot" gig, and then discovered Kirk's castile soap. I've gone completely over to the dark side: I use Kirk's, hot water, and make tons of suds. Then wipe with a clean sponge, and a thin coat of hydrophane conditioner (not the oil in the can - hated that). It was always a bear to get the old glycerine off - Kirk's gets it really clean and the leather loves it.

ltmac
Jul. 21, 2011, 05:51 PM
I think at the barest minimum, you should take a damp sponge to your tack to remove the sweat and dust/dirt, which will abrade it. But then, I'm a bit anal about my tack!


Passier lederbalsam is wonderful stuff. It is much better for tack than neatsfoot oil, especially high quality leather.

Totally agree!!

subk
Jul. 21, 2011, 06:03 PM
Another Kirk's castile soap fan. I'll also use a sponge just damp with water to pull of a days worth of dirt and save the soap for when it looks like things are building up a bit. Neetsfoot oil as needed--although the saddle maker of my new custom saddle prefers olive oil for the first few months.

Glycerine is not allowed in my barn. If I send a horse out for training I always insist that any tack I send with the horse not have any glycerine touch it. Glycerine builds up on tack, attracts dirts and over time gives good strap goods a sticky, gunky feel then it has to be striped. Thanks, but no thanks! I'd rather have straight dirt and sweat than a mixture of dirt, sweat and glycerine.

yellowbritches
Jul. 21, 2011, 06:55 PM
I am low key about tack. Strap goods (bridles, breastplates, what leather girths I have) get wiped down with a wee bit of soap and a damp sponge after every ride (usually). Saddles I am way less into cleaning...I LIKE them a little dirty and tacky on the seat! However, since I have a tendency to use just a half pad on my two, I do wipe down the panels of my saddles every couple of days, and I will clean and condition once every month or two.

I am ridiculous about fuzzy girths and boots, though. They are constantly getting chucked in the washer. I hate dirty girths and boots.

Big_Grey_hunter
Jul. 21, 2011, 06:58 PM
I am ridiculous about fuzzy girths and boots, though. They are constantly getting chucked in the washer. I hate dirty girths and boots.

I'm the same way about saddle pads, I use a new one every ride. On the rare occasion I reuse one, I feel bad :lol:

Stratosphere
Jul. 21, 2011, 07:17 PM
I spent years doing the "glycerine with very little water and occasional neatsfoot" gig, and then discovered Kirk's castile soap.

Maybe a silly question - but where do you guys find Kirk's castile soap? I've never seen it for sale anywhere...

Has anyone used Dr. Bronner's on leather? I use it to clean dirty nylon halters in a bucket of warm water, and it's "pure castile soap" too...never thought to use it on leather tack.

AnEnglishRider
Jul. 21, 2011, 07:22 PM
Fiebings saddle soap and Lexol (non darkening lexol with neatsfoot or something like that). It's what I got at Tractor Supply... and a little local farm and ranch store... I don't know where to get anything else around here, lol.

subk
Jul. 21, 2011, 07:23 PM
Maybe a silly question - but where do you guys find Kirk's castile soap? I've never seen it for sale anywhere...
Carried in every major grocery store anywhere I've ever looked for it.

JER
Jul. 21, 2011, 08:29 PM
I care for my leather tack by hanging it up after riding.

That's it.

I have a skin condition that makes cleaning tack with soap, water or leather cleaners a bad idea for me. Unclean tack might horrify some people, but raw, bleeding hands scare off a much broader segment of the public.

I always wipe off the bit, and my girths are all synthetics so I can just run the hose over them. I keep my saddles covered, although my favorite saddles to ride in are my Wintecs.

Xanthoria
Jul. 21, 2011, 09:32 PM
Yeah I'm a bit like JER except I don't really have a medical excuse ;)

I do strip it all down about once a month and wash it. Leather Therapy soap, really sudsy, rinse under tap (saddles w wet washcloth) and dry with a towel. Then a coat of Leather Therapy conditioner or Passier Lederbalsam or Stubben Hamanol or other quality stuff.

A saddler on TOB often says that glycerin or other soapy products actually dry out leather, and all in one cleaner/conditioners just leave a film of dirt on leather. Hence the rinse I do.

My dressage bridle is looking great after 10 years of daily use!

I did recently discover Effax Leder Combi - not sure what I think yet but it does leave an interesting (less slippery) finish on saddles... I want to rinse that off too, but that's my obsession.

batman the horse
Jul. 21, 2011, 09:46 PM
Has anyone used Dr. Bronner's on leather? I use it to clean dirty nylon halters in a bucket of warm water, and it's "pure castile soap" too...never thought to use it on leather tack.

I use Dr. Bronner's Castile soap on my tack & love it! I use the liquid kind in the bottle for nearly everything.

Xanthoria
Jul. 21, 2011, 09:53 PM
I've used liquid Dr Bronner's too. Works great!

goodmorning
Jul. 21, 2011, 10:49 PM
I've been using some Effax stuff & love it. Cleans & conditions without leaving residue behind. I usually don't oil anything unless its new or has been used in the rain. I do hose down my breastplate if needed, the last couple of rides its been covered in sweat & I can't imagine all that sweat is good for it. Not sure what else to do, I wipe it down with Effax & put it away (the elastic is always dry before storing). Its a really nice piece of tack, doesn't rub, fits great - not sure how elastic breastplates are best kept?

candysgirl
Jul. 22, 2011, 12:25 AM
My saddles are both Stubbens. The dressage saddle takes less abuse and gets cleaned much less frequently than the CC one that goes outside the arena. They both get cleaned with Murphy's Oil Soap - lots of soap and squeeze as much water as possible out of the sponge. I will change the water and go over the saddles a few times - especially the Siegfried since it gets abused. I allow them to dry for a couple hours. Then I use Stubben's Hamanol for a conditioner. Then the Siegfried gets coated in The Australian Stock Saddle Company's Leather Keep. It allows it to go out on trails and get rained on/splashed/soaked/muddy and the Leather Keep waterproofs it so the rain doesn't seem to have any effect on it.

GingerJumper
Jul. 22, 2011, 07:39 AM
Fiebing's (although I've used the Lexol wipes lately for quick wipe-off's) and Passier Lederbalsam for oiling. About once every six months (although it ends up being more like once a year, lol!) I'll bring alllllll my tack home from the barn and wherever else it is, clean everything (bits and stirrups soak in hot water, less-loved schooling pads get washed, etc) and then oil it all down. Since my Prestige is that funky redish color, I'll oil it down with olive oil (sometimes veggy oil too...) to darken it up a little. Everything else that's already been darkened (bridles, stirrup leathers, halters, etc) gets the Passier.
I actually use it on my hands as well in the winter... a tiny bit goes a long way and it really does prevent cracking!

Saskatoonian
Jul. 22, 2011, 08:52 AM
I've found Kirk's in the grocery store (normal bar soap section) and tack shops. Pretty sure even Dover has it. I haven't used Dr. Bronner's - some smell great but for tack, I'll take the $1.29 bar over the $4 one any day!

LSM1212
Jul. 22, 2011, 09:28 AM
I'm the same way about saddle pads, I use a new one every ride. On the rare occasion I reuse one, I feel bad :lol:

I use a new baby pad every ride (1/2 pad goes over top) since they are drenched when we are done this time of year. :) In the winter, I'll use the baby pad 2-3 times before I wash them since there is less sweat.

Dawnd
Jul. 22, 2011, 10:35 AM
I swear by the Passier soap (can't remember the german word for it...saddle steif?) as well as lederbalsam.

sisu27
Jul. 22, 2011, 03:05 PM
.though, I have callouses on my hands from the farm work I do and my nails and cuticles aren't in the best condition, and the microfiber catches on them all...it feels HORRID in my hands, but it does buff up a saddle nicely).

EW, EW, EW, EW!!!:eek::eek::no::no:

I CANNOT STAND that feeling!!! Ugh

Oh....another Passier Lederbalsam user here....very infrequently though and you have all made me feel guilty. Off to clean some tack!!

mojo7777
Jul. 22, 2011, 05:32 PM
I keep thinking that leather must be very agreeable stuff to do so well with such different treatment programs. One person conditions after every other ride, another conditions every six months or year. One uses oil, another lederbalsam. Some sudsy water, some no water!

I personally don't think my leather needs to be cleaned every day, and too much "product" is overkill. It was once living skin, but isn't any longer, so I don't think it needs daily care. When riding every day, I wipe down with a damp, wrung out, washcloth once or twice a week and follow that with the minimal bar glycerine about once a week, tops. Hydrophane oil gets used once a year and only if it seems to need it.

After the glycerine applications my leather always looks beautiful, with that subtle glow. I could be rationalizing not wanting to take the extra time to clean and condition more frequently, but why do it if my leather continues to look and feel great?

Mukluk
Jul. 23, 2011, 01:12 PM
If filthy (ground in dirt)- use a bit of ammonia, warm water, and a toothbrush. Wipe or rinse off.

Follow up with toothbrush and Kirks castile- wipe off.

Follow up with Passier Leder basalm- preferably leave in sun to soak in for an hour or so.

Follow up with glycerin soap.

85% of the time I wipe my tack down after each ride with my homemade tack wipes. Fabric squares (flannel works well) soaking in a mixture of bronners and water- squeeze out excess moisture and wipe down tack- I just wash the fabric squares and reuse. This keeps the tack nice and pliable and much cheaper than buying conventional leather wipes.

I must say, I like the biothane tack- I have a longriders breastplate (purple!!!)... through it in the washing machine when dirty and it comes out looking like new!!!!

I have a nice leather bridle that I only use for showing so it stays pristine.

I wish I had a handsome man servant to perform all of the aforementioned tack cleaning chores as well as provide me with festive drinks adorned with umbrellas and generally cater to my every whim.:D

Grasshopper
Jul. 25, 2011, 03:42 PM
Ha. I think this thread inspired me. Over the weekend I cleaned and conditioned a bunch of my tack, which sorely needed the conditioning in particular.

The combination I love: Mad Cow, Hydrophane, and Bienenwachs. I'll usually take the worst grime off with just water and a cloth, then clean with the Mad Cow. If leather really needs conditioning, or darkening up, I apply Hydrophane until it doesn't absorb immediately, let sit for a bit, then rub in Bienenwachs with my hands, let sit until dry and then buff with a cloth (or run a bit more Mad Cow over if I want more shine). If it just needs a little something I'll use either Hydrophane or the Bienenwachs, depending on the circumstances.

Love the Bienenwachs. Got it to replace my lost tub of Passier Lederbalsam and like it a lot more--seems to sink in better. Plus it smells wonderful!

CatPS
Jul. 25, 2011, 11:35 PM
I use the Carr Day & Martin Belvior glycerin soap to clean my bridle every other ride or so (more in the summer when they get sweaty). Same for saddle, but only every third or fourth ride. Apply Effax lederbalsam about once a month or anytime the leather starts to feel a little bit dry, which tends to be more often in the winter.

Galadriël Fëfalas
Jul. 26, 2011, 12:43 PM
All tack was slathered in Ko-Cho-Line and left overnight, then given another coating - really rubbed in to the 'raw' side, and left again.

For cleaning it since, I wipe it over with warm water, then apply glycerine saddle soap and leave overnight.

Mags
Jul. 26, 2011, 01:30 PM
Once or twice a month for saddle. Every third or fourth ride for bridle, girth & breast plate. Dunk bit right after I take the bridle off the horse.

Tattersall soap- following directions on tin.
Laderbalsm conditioner- only if I've been out in the rain.

I like to keep it simple. My bridle is 15 or 16 yrs old. My Stubben was made in 1983. After having it reflocked it's better than new.