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Higher end saddle care? Take me back to school!

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  • Higher end saddle care? Take me back to school!

    So I have owned MANY saddles over the years but they either have been used or just average quality leather. I recently purchased a new Equipe Expression saddle that is double leather and I have never owned a saddle with such "sensitive" leather.

    Does the type of leather dictate how I should take care of it? Or should cleaning and conditioning be the same no matter what type of leather it is?

    What do you use (cleaner/conditioner/oil)? Do you suggest buying manufacturer recommended products? Do you clean and condition your saddle after EVERY use?

    TIA

  • #2
    Make sure to properly oil it, unless the saddler has already done so. After that, keep it simple. Glycerine bar works best for me. And I hardly ever use water on saddles.
    Inner Bay Equestrian
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    • #3
      I always wipe down with a damp sponge after I ride and condition with ledersbalsam maybe once a week, depending on the season and if the leather has been exposed to anything (like tonight was a lot of rain. I definitely conditioned after that). The manufacturer didn't really have any specific instructions beyond the initial oiling. I did try their conditioner, but it left a weird film. I much prefer ledersbalsam but be aware that stuff will slightly darken your saddle.

      Other than that, not much else maintenance is needed. Ive only super deep cleaned once in the year I've owned it, and I like Castile soap for that job.

      For reference I have a calfskin Antares so I've definitely been treating that thing like its my first born!

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      • #4
        Amerigo soft clean and soft oil are very gentle and smell great if you are worried about something being too harsh of the leather. I use them both as well as cwd leather cleaner on my cwd and my amerigo.

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        • #5
          "Double" or "covered" leather does require a little more care than plain grain leather. The second layer of calfskin is stitched and adhered, but can separate if you: 1) over-oil; 2) don't use double/covered stirrup leathers; 3) ride with rough or really dirty boots or half chaps.

          MY preference:
          1. Oil *lightly* before first use, then *lightly* every 4-6 months, depending on leather and climate conditions.

          2. Use a just-damp cloth to wipe down after every ride. Sweat is the enemy of leather.

          3. Once every couple of weeks (or after a particularly dirty day), clean thoroughly with the saddle soap of your choice. I like Lexol.

          4. After cleaning, condition lightly. I like Effax lederbalsam. Allow conditioner to dry, then buff.

          5. Do not use conditioner if you haven't first cleaned your saddle. You'll just trap dirt and crud and create a sticky buildup. Great, perhaps, for feeling secure in your saddle, but not good for the life of your leather.

          MTA: Check your warranty for any specific instructions for care from the company. If you've lost your paperwork, call.
          Patience pays.

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          • #6
            My trainer has one of these and I was listening to what the rep was saying. Pretty sure that she said these were special because you didn't need soap or anything. She said just wipe it down after each ride and then gave him a thing of Equipe oil and a mitt to apply it with. She said for the first week, do it after each ride, next three months every week, and after that once a month.
            Hope that helps!

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            • #7
              If I were you, I'd simply call up Equipe and ask them what they recommend. Bates, for example, wants you to "regularly [clean], using glycerine saddle soap and a damp cloth or sponge..." and use "a rich, wax-based dressing, such as Bates Leather Balsam."

              Enjoy your new saddle!

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              • #8
                Not to run away with the thread, but I’m in the same boat with double leather and recently noticed that the flaps are turning black where my leathers/chaps/boot are rubbing.

                Is there a way to get rid of them? It seems that regular saddle soap doesn't really do the trick. I’ve had the saddle for about 2 mths now...so still breaking it in, but would love to know how to battle the black dirt "balls" on the leather.
                Last edited by cswoodlandfairy; Mar. 29, 2012, 08:30 AM.
                Calm & Collected, 13, OTTB
                Forrest Gump (Catasauqua) , 17, OTTB
                Little Bit Indian, 29, TB
                Owner of Spur of the Moment, Custom made spur straps! Find us on Facebook

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by cswoodlandfairy View Post
                  Not to run away with the thread, but I’m in the same boat with double leather and recently noticed that the flaps are turning black where my leathers/chaps/boot are rubbing.

                  Is there a way to get rid of them? It seems that regular saddle soap doesn't really do the trick. I’ve had the saddle for about 2 mths now...so still breaking it in, but would love to know how to battle the black dirt "balls" on the leather.
                  I use castile soap, some people prefer ammonia/water solution or straight ammonia. Don't polish the inside of your boots with black polish either, I use neutral polish and other people just wipe the inside of the boot off with a damp cloth. Most of the time I used Effax Leder Combi or Belvoir's liquid tack cleaner on my saddle and found that I didn't get that black stuff on my saddle at all. I don't know if its a combination of lack of polish plus the liquid cleansers or not, but my saddle didn't have that dark area on the flap that so many have. And my calfskin leathers didn't seem to leave any marks either, what kind of leathers do you have? I am not familiar with doubled leather though, so don't know if they require special care, although I have heard that the top, softer layer, can separate from the leather below it so I would be very careful with it.

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                  • #10
                    What others have said. The calfskin/double-lined leathers and avoiding suede half chaps is good advice too. I also keep mine stored in a zippered bag lined with faux fur to avoid scratching.

                    Would definitely NOT recommend conditioning after every ride. I'd say maximum of once a week, and I only condition mine about once every 4 to 8 weeks. But I also treat it with Hydrophane oil twice yearly to improve water resistance, so the leather is already pretty well sealed and the lederbalsam is just an insurance policy. The Hydrophane also makes me feel better about wiping down with a (very lightly damp) cloth or sponge after some rides. I wish I could say "after most rides" but I'm not that diligent about my tack care.
                    Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by BAC View Post
                      I use castile soap, some people prefer ammonia/water solution or straight ammonia. Don't polish the inside of your boots with black polish either, I use neutral polish and other people just wipe the inside of the boot off with a damp cloth. Most of the time I used Effax Leder Combi or Belvoir's liquid tack cleaner on my saddle and found that I didn't get that black stuff on my saddle at all. I don't know if its a combination of lack of polish plus the liquid cleansers or not, but my saddle didn't have that dark area on the flap that so many have. And my calfskin leathers didn't seem to leave any marks either, what kind of leathers do you have? I am not familiar with doubled leather though, so don't know if they require special care, although I have heard that the top, softer layer, can separate from the leather below it so I would be very careful with it.
                      I have 15 year old leathers on it...I know I need new ones, but it’s a cost issue at the moment. But they never did this with my older saddle so not sure it’s them. I had leather half chaps and thought maybe they were the affect, so I switched to an older pair with no luck. Both are kept clean.

                      I will have to look into those cleansers. I have a Stubben saddle and using the soap they recommend and it does a wonderful job, minus black dirt. They said I could also oil as much as I want and it wouldn’t affect the saddle since the leather is tanned not dyed. So right now, I’ve just been using a Velcro cleaning brush to scrub the dirt off then re-oiling. It has been working, but I fear it’s not good long term for the leather :/
                      Calm & Collected, 13, OTTB
                      Forrest Gump (Catasauqua) , 17, OTTB
                      Little Bit Indian, 29, TB
                      Owner of Spur of the Moment, Custom made spur straps! Find us on Facebook

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by cswoodlandfairy View Post
                        I have 15 year old leathers on it...I know I need new ones, but it’s a cost issue at the moment. But they never did this with my older saddle so not sure it’s them. I had leather half chaps and thought maybe they were the affect, so I switched to an older pair with no luck. Both are kept clean.
                        I hate to say it, but it's probably a combination of your stirrup leathers and "just being that way." What's the saddle model? Many of the Toulouses, and some of the Prestiges, are notorious for this black staining issue.
                        Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          When I bought my Amerigo, my saddle fitter had very direct instructions about cleaning.

                          1. Clean leather with warm water, after every ride.
                          Leather is skin, and skin is generally healthier if it's kept clean, and the pores are not clogged with dirt.

                          2. After wiping down, use a LITTLE bit of Passier Lederbalsm. Work into the leather, and let sit for 5 minutes. Wipe off with a dry, clean, cotton cloth.

                          3. NEVERNEVERNEVER oil. Saddle fitter said that oil tends to make dirt & dust particles stick to the leather, so when youre riding, your body is slowly rubbing the finish off the seat/flaps. Like sand paper.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by cswoodlandfairy View Post
                            I have 15 year old leathers on it...I know I need new ones, but it’s a cost issue at the moment. But they never did this with my older saddle so not sure it’s them. I had leather half chaps and thought maybe they were the affect, so I switched to an older pair with no luck. Both are kept clean.

                            I will have to look into those cleansers. I have a Stubben saddle and using the soap they recommend and it does a wonderful job, minus black dirt. They said I could also oil as much as I want and it wouldn’t affect the saddle since the leather is tanned not dyed. So right now, I’ve just been using a Velcro cleaning brush to scrub the dirt off then re-oiling. It has been working, but I fear it’s not good long term for the leather :/
                            Is your saddle also double leather, or calfskin? In any case, I would not be re-oiling constantly as you are currently doing. I only oil brand new, unused tack, after that I stick to conditioners instead, and only "as needed." The only exception is if the tack gets soaked in a rainstorm or something, then I would oil again. Some manufacturers are very specific about never oiling, even on brand new products, and if so then I always follow the manufacturer's advice.

                            Using regular leathers instead of calfskin ones if your saddle is calf is probably contributing to the marking and scuffing of the saddle.

                            I don't understand your comment about tanned versus dyed leather. I thought most good English tack is vegetable tanned leather, and that certainly accepts oil well. Whenever I clean a friend's obviously dyed Collegiate AP saddle, any kind of oil or conditioner runs right off the saddle, that leather doesn't absorb anything, even if I dropped it in a vat of oil!!!

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