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Leather Saddle Care Recs..please read

This is a discussion on Leather Saddle Care Recs..please read within the Horse Tack and Equipment forums, part of the Horse Tack category
  • Difference between white and yellow saddle soap
  • Yellow vs white saddle soap

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    07-09-2012, 04:47 AM
  #11
Yearling
Neatsfoot oil's made from sheep's feet. Or it used to be - most is synthetic, nowadays, which is why it doesn't small as bad (!)
It used to rot linen stitching over time because it was acid but because it's changed, and most modern stitching is synthetic anyway, you shouldn't have a problem :)
     
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    07-09-2012, 07:45 AM
  #12
Showing
Livestoride, you'll get over wanting to clean your saddle weekly and I'm going to suggest you don't except for the areas that touch the horse. When we clean a saddle we are also replenishing moisture. I have worked on very dry leather and before I consider oiling it, I will give it a good soaping with Fiebing's yellow paste, leave it a week to allow the moisture to work it's way deeper into the leather, then will soap again and allow another week. This often makes a huge difference. It is then I decide whether or not to oil or give it a third soaping.
     
    07-09-2012, 04:06 PM
  #13
Weanling
Saddlebag - I have also purchased the Fiebing's yellow saddle soap for cleaning. I understand that you can over oil, but if I clean it with the saddle soap weekly (or more realistically monthly after the first month or so) would that over dry the leather? It says that it helps add moisture, so I was not sure why I would need additional oil on top of that. I don't want to overdo it either.
     
    07-09-2012, 05:08 PM
  #14
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saddlebag    
Livestoride, you'll get over wanting to clean your saddle weekly and I'm going to suggest you don't except for the areas that touch the horse.
Quick question- I use a dressage saddle, and the whole underside of the saddle is on the saddle pad. There is no part of the saddle that touches the horse directly (except the girth, which in my case is fleece). Is this recommendation thinking of another kind of saddle?

It always seemed a little overboard to clean the saddle so frequently when it never touches the horse and only seems to get dirty from dust. (I do wipe off the dust with a dry cloth after each ride)

Sorry if I'm hi-jacking the thread... I've been borrowing a Wintec for the past several years, and now that I've bought my own horse I'm starting the process of shopping for my first leather saddle. I'm a but clueless about proper tack care
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    07-11-2012, 05:59 PM
  #15
Foal
I use my saddles very heavily, I probably deep clean them every 4-6 months. First I remove everything that comes off easily including stirrups. I clean the entire saddle as far up under the skirts as I can reach paying extra special attention to the "stress points" such as billets, lategos, etc. These are the things you DON'T want to have break due to an undetected tear, crack, dry rot, etc. This way, they get super clean and I get a really good look at how they're holding up. When I'm cleaning I usually use either fieblings saddle soap, murphy's oil soap, or lexol saddle soap for this (whatever I have on hand). A toothbrush works well for around stitching, tooling, or extra dirty parts. A good sponge works well for the rest. I use warm water and only as much soap as I need to get the grime off. I go over the whole thing with a clean, damp cloth when I'm done and get all the residual soap and grime off. Let it dry, usually just for the afternoon as long as I wasn't too liberal with the water. I just let it air dry in the house, don't put it in front of a heater or anything.

Once the saddle is totally dry then I use a clean cloth and apply oil. For some stuff, like the undersides of western stirrup fenders, inside my flank cinches, billets, and breastcollars I use 100% pure neatsfoot oil or Lexol conditioner. I'll be a little bit more liberal with this than the rest of the saddle also. These are the portions that contact the horse and thus gather the most sweat and grime (this makes them the most prone to rotting and breakage). The rest of the saddle I use either the non-darkening neatsfoot dressing from lexol or a product called Tanner's. I got tanners from a saddle-smith who uses it pretty much exclusively (hes also the one who taught me to use murphy's oil soap). It leaves a really nice sheen and seems to do a good job conditioning. It also won't bleed back onto your pants when you ride like neatsfoot oil can (esp if you are an english rider with white or light colored pants). There are plenty of other good choices on the market that other people have recommended also. Whatever you choose, just make sure to put the oil on a clean rag and then rub it in in small circular sections to keep everything even. I do this process for both my western and english saddles and headstalls.

Its much easier to add more oil than to take it off of a saddle that's been over oiled. Be a little stingy at first, give it a few hours to soak in and if it still seems dry then go ahead and add another light coat. You'll know when your saddle reaches that perfect oiled feel.

Usually once a week or so in between deep cleanings I just take a damp rag and wipe the dirt and sweat off after I ride. I've never had a problem over-oiling or having things crack and dry-rot even in our super dry climate (Tucson, AZ).

When I do my headstalls, I take them all the way apart and put the hardware and all the bits in a sink or bucket of hot water and dawn dish soap. I let them soak while I'm cleaning the headstalls just like the saddles. While the headstalls are drying, I rinse all the bits and hardware. You'd be amazed how quick the bits come clean with very minimal elbow grease after soaking for an hour or so! I then oil and reassemble everything.
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    07-11-2012, 08:35 PM
  #16
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by verona1016    
Quick question- I use a dressage saddle, and the whole underside of the saddle is on the saddle pad. There is no part of the saddle that touches the horse directly (except the girth, which in my case is fleece). Is this recommendation thinking of another kind of saddle?

It always seemed a little overboard to clean the saddle so frequently when it never touches the horse and only seems to get dirty from dust. (I do wipe off the dust with a dry cloth after each ride)

Sorry if I'm hi-jacking the thread... I've been borrowing a Wintec for the past several years, and now that I've bought my own horse I'm starting the process of shopping for my first leather saddle. I'm a but clueless about proper tack care
In my opinion, part of the reason for "cleaning" a saddle isn't always for making it clean. It also replenishes the moisture and keeps it flexible. Even dirt you can't see can dry out your leather and make it prone to cracking. I ride dressage and I know that my own personal preference is for my saddle's to be super supple. I can really tell a difference in a saddle that is recently cleaned/oiled than a saddle that has not. My trainer rarely cleans her saddle and she goes on and on about how wonderful her Corbett is, but when I sit in it (my saddle doesn't fit one of her horses that I ride/show sometimes) I feel like I'm sitting on a stiff western saddle. It isn't dirty, but the leather has obviously been allowed to get too dry.
     
    07-12-2012, 02:16 PM
  #17
Weanling
Ashley- thank you so much for taking the time to type all of that! I really really appreciate it :) I think that sounds like s great plan for me too. I don't want to ruin a good thing by doing too much or too little.

My last question: since it is new, do I need to saddle soap and oil it right away or is it already prepped since it is new?
     
    07-13-2012, 12:03 AM
  #18
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cinnys Whinny    
In my opinion, part of the reason for "cleaning" a saddle isn't always for making it clean. It also replenishes the moisture and keeps it flexible. Even dirt you can't see can dry out your leather and make it prone to cracking. I ride dressage and I know that my own personal preference is for my saddle's to be super supple. I can really tell a difference in a saddle that is recently cleaned/oiled than a saddle that has not. My trainer rarely cleans her saddle and she goes on and on about how wonderful her Corbett is, but when I sit in it (my saddle doesn't fit one of her horses that I ride/show sometimes) I feel like I'm sitting on a stiff western saddle. It isn't dirty, but the leather has obviously been allowed to get too dry.
Every 6 months like you mentioned I think I can handle, I'm glad to hear that's all it takes to keep your saddle feeling nice!
     
    07-13-2012, 06:06 AM
  #19
Showing
Oiling a new saddle simply helps to soften it up while it breaks in. Olive Oil has a tendency of going rancid and sometimes attracts rodents.

I oil my saddle at least once per year using a paint brush to get in the hard to reach places. Black Rock is a great product that doesn't darken leather, but I'll typically use Neatfoot oil for my heavy oiling.

I use either saddle soap or a Murphy's Oil mixture to clean my saddle every few rides. I just sold a saddle that I had custom made ~15 years ago and ridden in very heavily. It was in fantastic condition and sold for more then I paid for it due, in part, to condition.
     
    07-17-2012, 10:39 PM
  #20
Weanling
I did it! I was very nervous about the process adn really didn't want to ruin my saddle, so I started with my 2 1/2 year old leather stirrup leathers. It let me mess up a little before I got to my saddle. I was amazed at how much softer and more pliable they became :)

I really actually enjoyed using the saddle soap an dcleaning the saddle. I used the Feibings yellow tin adn after it was done and dry it looked amazing. I forgot to get a picture after this step, but I really was tempted to not even oil it. I figured that it ought to be done since it hasn't been done before and I want this to last a very long time.

I did not enjoy the oiling process one bit. I found it very stressful and unforgiving. Every spot I touched turned dark. I was worried it would be too dark and I wouldn't like the new color becasue I really liked it being light chestnut, but now that it is done I think it looks nice if a little bit blotchy. The camera makes it look WAY worse than in real life. I think I will end up cleansing it monthly and oiling it 2 times a year. Here are pics of the final product:

Before:
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After:
Attachment 7170755

Attachment 7170748
Attached Images
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File Type: jpg P7170748.jpg (45.2 KB, 64 views)
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