I dutifully cleaned my tack w/ Fiebeings (sp?) saddle soap and (I thought) conditioned with Effax. Why is some of the tack so d#$% sticky? The instructions on the Effax said "polish if needed" which I assumed was more aesthetic than needing to get so much lint on it that it wasn't sticky anymore. The bridle (midrange from Dover 5 years ago) was way worse than the County saddle. Is it a leather quality issue? If so, what should I look to for to condition the presumably less high quality bridle? Obviously this is operator error but what should I be doing in the future?
up the hill from the little river (that floods alarmingly often)
Sounds like you either didn't get all your saddle soap off or you overconditioned your tack. When I condition mine, I often do it in the sun and buff it with a soft dry cloth after letting it sit a while. That tends to take care of the sticky factor, though I have noticed a little extra grip to my saddle a few rides after using the Effax leather balm.