Saddle Care

18th July 2023
Here are my do’s and don’ts for keeping your saddle in tip top condition.


1️⃣ 👍DO Use the recommended cleaning products. Most new saddles come with sample tubes of the leather conditioner recommended by the manufacturers, which you should use in order to protect your warranty. As a rule of thumb, the bar soap that contains glycerine and the spray-on soap is not recommended. Use instead a saddle cream or balm and steer clear of alcohol containing products.


2️⃣ 👍DON’T use too much oil, unless the leather is very stiff, maybe after a period of disuse. Over oiling will eventually rot the stitching and break down the fibres in the leather, causing it to stretch. It can add unnecessary weight to the saddle, darken the leather and make your tack unpleasantly greasy.


3️⃣ 👍DON’T use cleaning products on suede knee or seat pads. These need to be brushed and buffed ideally using the wire brushes you get from a shoemaker in order to restore the pile.


4️⃣ 👍DON’T get your saddle wet – yes I do know it rains occasionally in the UK! If it does get a drenching, dry it with a towel as soon as possible and let it dry naturally, i.e. NOT near a radiator (this will make the leather stiff). Once dry apply a leather conditioner and wait for it to be absorbed before covering the saddle. If your saddle comes back muddy from a day’s hunting, you may need to use water and soap to clean the mud off and do it as soon as possible – not the following week! – and apply a leather conditioner once dry.


5️⃣ 👍DON’T use any form of leather dressing on a synthetic saddle, just wipe it with warm water. Some saddles have leather “uppers” and are synthetic underneath. Make sure you know which bits are leather so you can use the correct products.


6️⃣ 👍DO clean your tack regularly, ideally every time you use it, otherwise once a week should suffice, unless it gets wet.


7️⃣DON’T lean your saddle up against a brick wall – you’d be amazed how many saddles have damaged cantles from this. Always put a numnah or soft padding behind the cantle.


8️⃣👎DON’T use the metal saddle-shaped racks that screw into the wall, or those freestanding metal saddle stands, as the metal bars cause pressure points in the saddle’s panels, particularly if the saddle is weighed down with heavy stirrups and girth. We like our panels to be smooth and lump free, not with long grooves in them! Some people wrap insulating foam around the metal bars (see picture), or use padding under their saddles to avoid this. We use poles to sit the saddles on.


9️⃣ 👍DO be aware that stirrup irons, particularly the grippy cheesegrater ones, can potentially scratch your saddle when you run them up. Many people use fleece covers/bags over their irons.


🔟👍DO make sure your girth has roller buckles at both ends (most do, nowadays) as the old non-roller buckles damage the girth straps. It is also easier to tighten the girth evenly on both sides with roller buckles. It’s a good idea to take your girth right off your saddle after use, to avoid twisting the girth straps and distorting the flap.


1️⃣1️⃣ 👍DO use your saddle cover to prevent mould, mite, damp and sunlight damage, also accidental damage during transportation or from exposure to the elements.


1️⃣2️⃣ 👍DO store your tack in a well ventilated, temperature controlled environment, especially in the winter. Nothing degrades leather more quickly than keeping it in a damp, unheated tack shed.


Please contact me on 📲 07941 512933 for saddle fittings, alterations and repairs.