How to Care for Your Saddle
The key to ensuring your Collegiate saddle lives a long and happy life is through proper care and maintenance. Keeping the saddle free of excess dust and dirt - as well as ensuring the leather is properly hydrated - equates to healthy leather.
Things you’ll need:
- Bucket of warm water
- Tack sponges
- Beeswax leather balm
- Glycerin saddle soap (if desired)
Cleaning your leather Collegiate Saddle
Start by removing stirrup leathers and irons, and any other accessories you may have attached to your saddle – this will allow you to really inspect each part of the saddle and ensure the cleanest clean and optimal conditioning. Submerge a clean tack sponge in warm water and wring out the excess water. Wipe down all surfaces of the saddle with the damp sponge, focusing on areas that have built up dust and dirt. Allow the saddle to dry before applying any oil/balm/conditioner. (Note that if your saddle is adjustable you do not have to remove the gullet before cleaning the saddle!)
Once the saddle is dry you can begin applying leather balm to the saddle. Use a dry tack sponge to apply balm in light layers. It is possible to over condition leather – so start small. Apply balm to both sides of the leather, as the bottom side typically absorbs better than the top. Apply light layers until absorption stops or slows.
If your saddle is very dry and in need of additional moisture you can apply neatsfoot oil instead of leather balm. This should be applied in the same manner as the balm – in light layers until the saddle stops absorbing the oil. Take care not to apply too much, an over-oiled seat will be reflected in your breeches!
After the balm or oil, you may apply a thin coat of glycerin saddle soap to lock in moisture if desired. Believe it or not saddle soap is the final step to caring for a saddle, not the first! Using saddle soap to clean your saddle will typically lock the dirt into the pores of the leather, which can cause problems down the road. Saddle soap when applied last will create a thin barrier between your saddle and the elements, helping to repel excess moisture.
Once the saddle has been cleaned, conditioned and allowed to dry you may replace the saddle cover – we recommend the fabric saddle cover that came with your Collegiate saddle – and return it to the tack room.
Help! I’ve got jockeys!
If you ever notice small lumps forming on the flap of your saddle, you may have dirt jockeys. Jockeys are typically the result of dust/dirt and repeated friction – which means you will usually find them under your leg. Jockeys should be removed regularly to prevent damage to the leather. Jockeys are typically resistant to standard cleaning methods. The best method to remove jockeys is by utilising some warm water and stray tail hairs.
Collect a few stray tail hairs from your horse, and roll them into a small, compact ball. Dampen this ball with warm water, and gently exfoliate the jockeys until they are all gone from your saddle. Equine tail hair is coarse enough to remove the jockeys from the leather, but gentle enough not to harm the leather in the process.
My stirrup pads are looking a little dingy
Is your newly cleaned and conditioned saddle not showing its best colors due to some dingy stirrup pads? An easy solution to this problem is toothpaste! Take the irons off your saddle, and scrub a little toothpaste onto the stirrup pads with an old toothbrush. Allow the toothpaste to sit for a few minutes before washing it off. You should be left with dazzling white stirrup pads! Minty fresh!