I've never really took the time to thoroughly wash my tack before.
I was wondering if you guys could give me some tips on cleaning saddles/ saddle pads & old reins.
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The easiest way to do straps is to lather up your hands with glycerin soap and rub the lather into the leather. Rinse by using a damp cellulose sponge with lots of rinsing out. You can do the saddle with your lathered hands or work up a lather with the sponge then rinse. You are really wiping the soap residue and dirt so the key issue is to rinse the sponge often and squeeze out excess moisture. You will notice an improvement when you are done. Don't oil it. If the leather was quite dry leave it to dry for a week then re soap it. You are allowing the moisture to work it's way into the leather and that takes a few days. I've done probably several hundred.
I recommend Horseman's One Step leather cleaner/conditioner cream for cleaning leather. I have 25-yr old bridles and saddles that look fantastic with weekly cleaning with HOS.
*cringes at thought of never cleaning leather tack* My gear gets a good clean at least once a week, without fail, including a wipe over to remove sweat after every use. My saddle is 15years old and minus a few wear marks from the stirrups, looks brand new.
I use Effax leather conditioner, with a good glycerine saddle soap for cleaning really grimy leather.
Depending on how bad your gear is, you may need to use a knife to scrape built in dirt and dried sweat away. This stuff will ruin a good leather saddle faster than anything else.
Once you've removed the bulk of the solid grime, I use a soft, lightly textured damp cloth and work the saddle soap right in, using small circular motions with my hand. This lifts the dirt off effectively and will also remove sweat in the leather.
Once soaped, follow with a good quality leather conditioner. As I said above, I chose to use Effax products as they do not leave a slimey residue behind. Work the conditioner into the leather, and allow to soak for a day, then come back with a soft cloth to polish.
If your leather is cracked or really stiff, you'll need to use a good quality leather oil. Don't use it on the seat of your saddle, or the girth points. The rough side of he leather is the side that will absorb the oil, so apply oil here generously. I then put my leather into a dark plastic rubbish bag and leave somewhere warm for the day. This gives the oil the best chance to soak right into the leather.
You just don't want to oil too frequently, as the leather can start to swell and stretch.
Make sure you pull your bridle apart too - no being lazy and just cleaning around the buckles, as these are the most important parts. If your leather starts cracking and stiffening at these points, your setting yourself up for a snapped bridle, probably while you're galloping or jumping, or at a show!!!!
What do you guys do for jockeys on stirrup leathers and bridles? I typically just scrub the shiny jockeys with a sponge and HOS, as they're a big no-no in Pony Club, but am curious if there's a better way.
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