I have one of the Jeffries 5 point breastplates with the sheepskin AND elastic AND leather.
Any advice on cleaning the sheepskin? I can't just throw it in the wash obviously. And the elastic? We got some mud on it after our last XC schooling and I didn't clean it off right away...
If it's dry I'd start by just gently stretching the elastic a bit (like over your leg - you want something firm behind it) and then brushing with a stiff brush to try to get the worst of it off. Then go to a wet sponge for the rest? (No idea on the sheepskin.)
Elastic – Bursh with clean bursh to remove hair and dirt. Then go over it with a damp terry cloth towel lightly soaped (dish or laundry soap). Pull on the elastic to get it really clean. Then back over with a wet terry cloth towel to rinse. Rub well with dry towel to dry.
Sheepskin – carefully wet the underside (I do it under the tap at a sink) and shampoo (rub around with fingers) and rinse. Dry with towel - (or blow dryer on low if you want to make it fluffy). Brush with fine wire brush (like a pet brush) once COMPLETELY dry.
Leather cleaner and conditioner for the leather, wire brush once dry for the sheepskin, and a stiff brush and wet cloth for the elastic. You can baby powder the sheepskin a bit for shows if it gets gross looking, but try to always be good about brushing the sheepskin gently once dry. Agree with the above that you can soap if totally nasty, but only with MELP or Leather Therapy!
Any advice on cleaning the sheepskin? I can't just throw it in the wash obviously.
You can, actually--especially if you were using more traditional brush-the-sweat-off-the-sheepskin and take-saddle-soap-to-the-leather cleanings between rounds in the washing machine. I wash my elastic-and-leather breastplate, and my sheepskin half pad, in a top-load washing machine with PePeDe detergent. PePeDe is specially formulated for biological materials like wool and leather. I do condition the leather with lederbalsam after the piece air dries, but the whole thing is none the worse for wear.
For stains or crud on the elastic, I use the old Pony Club standby: toothpaste and scrubbin'. If it's really godawfully bad, some Pony Clubbers will also use Shout stain remover.
I've had good luck using castile soap on elastic when it gets really grungy. Lightly wet the soap surface and scrub some soap up with a toothbrush, scrub the elastic and rinse. I second using a wire cat brush on the sheepskin once it is dry.
Why do I work two jobs to support a horse I don't have time to ride?
I have always just thrown mine in the washing machine on delicate cycle with the special leather/sheepskin laundry soap you can get at any tack store. After air drying it and an oil application it is as good as new!