Leather Saddle Care Recs..please read
I did search the archives a bit and found some interesting, although very conflicting information and wanted to see what people thought.
I have my first real leather saddle and want to make sure it lasts. I emailed the company and this was the suggestion:
"I just recommend oiling once or twice a week for the first month, basic neatsfoot or even olive oil will help to darken and soften the leather. After the initial "breaking in" period, regular cleaning with glycerin soap, and oiling monthly, or whenever the saddle has been out in weather, is more than sufficient."
This seems like a lot to me and after reading some of the other threads it may be over oiling it. Also, it has a nice chestnut color that I would hate to lose and that much oil seems like it would darken it way down. I do want to take care of it though, so if this is what is needed I will do it.
I went out and got a container of Freibergs Saddle Soap in a yellow tin (they also had a bar, but I wasn't sure if there was much of a difference between the two) and a brown jug of Neatsfoot oil. Will this be too much or should it work out?
Thanks for any input!
It will darken the leather. I ride western, and only oil a few times a year.
I do clean with saddle soap more frequently.
Ray Holes saddle butter. I clean and oil twice a year. The leather on my saddles are supple. I hear Neatsfoot can deteriorate stitching.
I use Horseman's One-Step Leather Cleaner/Conditioner after every ride. I oil with Tanner's leather oil once or twice a year.
I've heard mixed opinions on the proper protocol for oiling a new saddle. Some say to oil it often for the first few months, and others say not at all. I'll wait for others to chime in on that.
It's odd a saddle company would suggest olive oil as there is the possibility of it going rancid. Neatsfoot oil, not compound, is made from the hooves of cattle so you are replacing like with like. My preference is glycerin for english saddles. I don't know the quality of your saddle but I rode in 30 year old Barnsbys and we gave them a good cleaning about 3 x year, never oiled them and the leather was in great condition. As with any saddle, keep an eye on what touches the horse and gets sweaty and dirty, the bottom of the flaps, stirrup leathers, backside of the bridle.
I've broken in a handful of new western saddles trying to find one that fits my horse. :evil:
I've had good luck using neatsfoot oil 2-3 times the first couple of months and then maybe once or twice a year thereafter. The way I look at it, the break-in period is probably the most important time to oil a saddle because I want everything to give a little and stretch minutely rather than have things start to crack. So I take the time to oil the saddle when it is new rather than take a chance on things cracking or getting damaged. Just me though! I know other people who hardly take care of their tack at all and it seems to do just fine.
I tend to use saddle soap only if the leather is sweaty or if I want to give it a bit of a protective finish. The saddle soap gives it a really nice feel. If I find friction points (like between the saddle fenders and skirts or what-have-you) I will smear a little saddle soap paste on the friction point and it will help stop it from rubbing.
I don't know much about English saddles but I get the impression they need less oil than western because they are a more supple leather. Western saddles can take a goodly amount of oil to get broke-in nicely.
I've heard of using olive oil and even unsalted butter to oil saddles but I have never done that myself. I have heard the butter attracts mice! I think these are what people used before other leather care oils became more widely available. I would definitely choose olive oil before butter if I had to pick. :lol:
I used to use Olive oil as suggested by a trainer but it does darken the saddle after a while and if you do it often, can actually make your leather gooey. I never had issues with the stitching deteriorating though. It does get a little stinky sometimes and it can also stain your breeches pretty badly especially if you use the saddle too soon after oiling.
For cleaning I use regular everyday saddle soap. I lather it up, then wipe it off. Then I do a second good wipe with a wet sponge and then get off any excess with a cloth baby diaper. I wait for it to dry and then I oil it. My favorite oil is HDR saddle oil . I have tried many different leather oils and this is by far my absolute favorite as it REALLY keeps my leather soft and cozy and since it's made for saddles by a saddle maker there isn't a worry about stitching and as far as I know it doesn't discolor, however my tack is black because I ride dressage. It works so well that my trainer thought I had a nice 300 dollar bridle when it's really a cheap 20 dollar Gatsby bridle.
I am BAD about cleaning my tack and only clean it about every 6 months...only doing a quick damp sponge before a show. I know...I'm horrible. I do however keep my saddle cover on my saddle in the tack locker, and my bridle is in a bridle bag when not on my horse.
A suggestion I have, no matter WHAT cleaner you use, be careful of what you use to clean it as in sponges, etc as over time scratching with ordinary synthetic sponges or wash clothes will dull your leather. I like to use natural sea sponges when I need a sponge and cloth baby diapers for any other wiping on my tack and boots. For bridles I use an art paint brush and "paint" on my oil instead of wiping it on...then I use the cloth diaper to gently pat off any excess.
Great suggestions, thank you so much for replying! I really appreciate it. I am nervous now that I have tack I need to take care of. My synthetic saddle just neded a quick hose down to look brand new.
Cinny - I hadn't put much thought into what to use to put it on. I was so focused on the product. Now I need to find a nice, soft material.
Can you really over oil it? I was thinking of oiling it once now and see how it goes with the neatsfoot. I need ot double check and make sure it is pure nad not a compound. I was going to use the saddle soap weekly. The leatehr is very soft and I would like it to stay that way, but not get gooey or slippery. this is harder work than riding ;)
In my opinion, yes you can over oil... it will get gooey and yucky if you do it too much, or put too much on.
When you apply it, think of putting lotion on your skin.... if you just put on a nice little amount, all is well. If you put on too much you end up feeling icky and have to wipe part of it back off with a towel. Usually putting it on a cloth or towel and then gently rubbing it in is all you need. If you put it straight on the leather, it can make dark spots that won't come out for a LONG time. If you put some on with a cloth and then when it dries seems to need a little more, you can always do it again.
Cloth diapers are REALLY cheap and wonderful to keep in your tack locker for all sorts of things. You can get them cheap at walmart or target. Wash and dry them in the machine but don't use fabric softener on them. Keep them around in a large ziploc bag for first aid, wiping fly wipe on your horses face,ears, eyes, clean your tack, and I usually take at least 5 clean ones to shows with me as I find all sorts of uses for them.
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