Unfortunately, nothing stays new forever, especially something used as often as your favorite saddle you throw on your horse everyday. Proper maintenance will exponentially extend a saddle’s lifespan. At Martin Saddlery, we understand that your saddle is an investment, and one you plan to use for many years. So we rounded up some important tips to help keep your investment in great cosmetic and working condition.
The three main elements which can cause the most wear and premature aging are dust, the salt element in horse sweat, plus heat. Each element on their own can prove taxing on leather. However, it is the combination of the three that will cause the most damage the quickest. Dust, horse sweat, and heat combined is a mixture that will physically begin to break down leather. Heat from the sun, plus the salty nature of horse sweat causes moisture in the leather to evaporate, making it brittle and weak. Regular dusting and storing your saddle out of direct sunlight will help maintain the leather’s moisture. And giving your saddle a good wipe down after a hard work-out to take off any excess horse sweat is always good practice.
It is important to stress dusting, this should be your primary focus of routine saddle care. You can use a soft bristle brush or an air compressor to remove dust and dirt from within the tooling patterns and hard to reach places. An air compressor works fantastic in removing grit from rough-out and suede, without damaging the texture.
If you can’t put the product on human skin, don’t put it on your saddle!
We recommend olive oil or a light cream conditioner to add moisture back to your saddle. Remember to always dust your saddle immediately before applying any products such as saddle soap or oil. If the product is very greasy be cautious, apply sparingly and always wipe off any excess. Soaking a saddle in oil can be worse than not oiling at all. A good way to check if you have applied too much is if the leather looks greasy or feels like deep fried chicken. Ease up on the calories if you see this happening.
Remember moderation is the key when conditioning your saddle.
Also, be sure the hidden parts of your saddle, such as the underside of the swells and fenders, are getting attention as well. Do not oil suede seats. Only if a saddle’s rough-out is extremely dry, should you apply a very minimal light coat on the texture itself. Any rough-out on your saddle should be oiled very sparingly depending on its condition. If you are unsure consult a professional.
Please note sunlight and oil will naturally start to darken a saddle. So if you are head over spurs for your saddle’s light leather look, you will need to prepare yourself for this possibility when beginning a treatment regime.
A regularly used saddle will need to be oiled more often than a saddle not in regular use. However, dusting your saddle should be a priority no matter how often it is used or where it is stored. Trainers who ride long days in the heat and use their saddle on several sweaty horses will need to wipe down and oil their saddle more often compared to a part-time competitor or recreational rider who may ride only in the cooler evenings and only on a few horses.
With just a little TLC, your investment will look great and hold up for many years.
Lightly oil on occasion.