Your saddle is probably your most expensive piece of tack. When used regularly it is advised to clean your saddle at least once a month. If you use the saddle multiple times a day or go on trail rides regularly it should be done more often. Proper maintenance extends your saddle's life expectancy.
- Remove any loose parts from your saddle before you start cleaning. Stirrup straps, stirrups, girth and saddle pad should be removed. Remove excessive dirt with a cloth or brush.
- Use saddle soap (fluid or solid) or a tack cleaner to clean the entire saddle (seat, panel, saddle flap, skirt, and knee roll)
Saddle soap will remove sweat, dirt and grease. Don't use too much water as this will make the leather tough. Make sure to wring the spunge you might use. Too much moist might result in the stitching coming loose.
- Before treating your saddle make sure it is dry and clean. Leather dries best at room temperature. Mind though, don't store the saddle next to central heating or any other heat source as this might desiccate the leather.
- Now that the saddle is clean and dry you can treat it with leather balm, oil, or conditioner. Again, treat the entire saddle. Don't use leather oil for the seat.
Rub the balm or conditioner with a cloth or spunge and oil with a brush. A proper rub works wonders and is often better than simply applying profusely. Leave it to soak before rubbing it dry with a clean, pilling free cloth. Before you use it again you could wipe the saddle one last time to remove excess leather balm.
Watch out with leather oil. Oil is absorbed much quicker and therefore needs to be applied more often. This does make the leather extra supple, and thus extremely useful for girthstraps and stirrup leathers. Leather oil is not the best choice for the knee roll and seat (soft parts).
- Watch out with suède saddle flaps. Don't treat these with balm or oil, but use special suède sprays
- Story your saddle in a dry, well-ventilated area and use a saddle support. Watch out ammonia smells, as this deteriorates leather. Freezing temperatures don't hurt a saddle.
- Use a saddle cover to protect the saddle from damages and dust.
- Remove the pad, sheepskin pad and girth each time. Bacteria from sweat and filth can damage your saddle.
- Use a clean saddle pad regularly. It's not just for the saddle, but for your horse's coat as well.
- Stainless steel cleaner is available for your stirrups.
- Treat your saddle at least one day before use to allow the conditioners to do their job.
Maintenance of synthetic saddles
Synthetic saddles are much easier to maintain. Remove sweat, dirt and filth on a regular basis. Use a moist cloth and a spray for synthetic products. Rub the saddle with the moist cloth, use a hard brush to remove tougher filth. Use a clean moist cloth to wipe the saddle.
No additional conditioner is needed.
Tip: many synthetic saddles have leather detailing. Don't forget to use balm on these parts.