Most of the saddles seen being used in all riding disciplines in the horse industry are made from leather. This means that both English and Western saddles are usually made from leather regardless of what the saddle’s specific design or purpose is.
For those of you who ride horses, it is likely that you ride in and regularly use a leather saddle. Some people, however, don’t even realize that they need to take care of that leather saddle regularly to keep it clean and supple.
There are several very important reasons to keeping your saddle clean, conditioned, and protected. These reasons will show you why you need to start taking care of your saddle and will push you to start using the proper products to make your saddle last as long as possible.
5 Reasons You Should Clean & Care for Your Leather Saddle:
1. To Keep the Leather Strong and Prevent Brittleness and Cracking
Leather needs to be cleaned and conditioned regularly. One of the main reasons for this is to maintain the ‘health’ or quality of the leather. If the leather is made dirty and just sits there, it will begin to dry out and become stiff.
If you allow your saddle to reach this stage, not only will it be difficult to work with, but this is where the cracking starts to occur. You can notice now that moving the leather around when attaching your girth or adjusting your stirrups not only got a lot harder, but it also became very damaging. You will start to see small cracks and splitting where the leather bends.
Before the breaking and tearing of the leather starts to occur in different spots on your saddle, I would begin to use water and a leather conditioner to restore the suppleness and flexibility of your saddle.
Regular cleaning and conditioning of your saddle helps to make the leather a lot stronger, more flexible, and soft which not only makes it more comfortable to ride in, but it prolongs the life of your saddle too.
2. To Make it Look Amazing
No one wants to look at a dry, crusty saddle. Keeping the condition of your saddle up will make even a ten-year-old saddle look almost new.
As soon as a saddle begins to dry, wear out, and crack, the color of the leather begins to fade, the saddle takes on a dull look, and overall your saddle just doesn’t look nice at all. Maintaining the leather on your saddle will make a huge difference in both the look and how long it lasts you.
To keep your saddle looking sharp, make sure you are cleaning it regularly with warm water and saddle soap before finishing it off with a leather polish and conditioner.
Some additional pro tips on how to keep your saddle looking brand new for years:
- Store your saddle with a saddle cover
- Even when not being used regularly, still condition and clean the leather
- Cover the stirrups with little stirrup protector bags
- Keep your saddle on a saddle rack when storing it for periods of time
- Keep your saddle in a dry, cool place out of direct sunlight
3. It Helps Keep the Leather Soft
When leather is not taken care of, it can become stiff and brittle making it hard to bend and work with. If your saddle is at this point, investing in some conditioner would be a great decision.
Soft leather is ideal for saddles for many reasons.
It helps to make the saddle more:
- Comfortable to ride in
- Easy to adjust in certain areas
- Visually appealing
Keeping the leather soft is ideal so you can easily go about fastening your girth without having to worry about whether or not the billets are going to break or crack.
4. Your Saddle Will Last a Lot Longer
Generally, if you take care of things with care and respect, you will have them around for a long time. If you continuously clean and condition your saddle and ensure that no cracks or brittleness occur anywhere on the saddle, it will last you a long time.
I have heard of saddles lasting for decades when they are taken care of regularly and with the right products.
Keeping the leather soft, supple, clean, and flexible will ensure a long life to your saddle.
5. It Makes the Saddle a Lot More Comfortable to Ride In
I’m sure many of us have ridden in an older, poorly taken care of saddle. I actually have one of these that I use for my students’ riding lessons. The reason I use this saddle is because I don’t care too much if it is damaged or dirtied.
My lesson saddle is a little cracked on the seat and it most definitely has seen better days. Had it been better taken care of by the person who owned it previously, it likely would not have become so worn and damaged. Not only does it have these damages, but it also is one of the more uncomfortable saddles that I own. This is accredited mainly to its poor care in the past. The cracks in the leather on the seat and the stiff, hard seat make it not the most fun saddle to ride in.
If you want your saddle to stay in good condition and not become as worn and crusty as my old lesson saddle, then I recommend putting in the time and money to caring for your saddle.
The Difference Between Leather Cleaner and Leather Conditioner:
Sometimes I am asked what the difference between leather cleaner and leather conditioner is. One of the easiest comparisons that I can make is that to shampoo and conditioner.
Think of leather cleaner like shampoo. Shampoo removes all the grease, dirt, and grime from your hair. Leather cleaner has a similar task as it too removes any dirt, sweat, mud, and grime that may have accumulated on the saddle.
Sometimes leather cleaner is referred to as saddle soap as this is exactly what it is.
Leather conditioner is a little bit different than leather cleaner. To help you remember what leather conditioner is, compare it to the conditioner that you use on your hair. Conditioner is used to hydrate, nourish, and soften your hair. This means that leather conditioner is used to hydrate, nourish, and soften the leather on your saddle.
|Leather Cleaner||Leather Conditioner|
|Removes dirt||Conditions leather|
|First product used on saddle||Last product used on saddle|
|Cleans leather||Hydrates leather|
|Used with water or on damp saddle||Mainly used on damp or dry saddle|
|Also known as saddle soap||Sometimes known as leather restorer|
|Strips leather of dirt and old conditioner||Adds protective layer and polishes leather|
Best Leather Cleaning Products:
Because we are already discussing taking care of our leather saddles, I would like to recommend you my 3 favorite leather cleaning products that you can use on not only your saddle, but also any and all of your leather tack.
My 3 favorite leather cleaning products are:
I love this specific product for several reasons. The main reasons are:
- It is an affordable price
- It is really easy to use
- It has super good reviews and is a popular choice
This saddle soap is my go-to choice for leather cleaner whenever I need it. I recommend this product to anyone who is looking for a good soap that will do the job.
This saddle soap is an extremely popular choice in the horse industry when it comes to top leather cleaners. This soap is one of the most common and classic saddle soaps around, and there is reason it has been around for so long.
3 reasons why I like this product include:
- It is a very trustworthy and popular product that has been around for years
- This soap is easy to use and lasts a long time
- It can be used on all leather tack and equipment including bridles, breast collars, reins, and even riding boots!
I recommend this product to anyone looking for a solid, trustworthy product that will last them a long time.
This made it to the top 3 leather cleaners list because of what this specific product does.
I like this product for the following reasons:
- It not only cleans leather, but it also conditions and polishes it
- Contains oils and conditioning products to help preserve leather and make saddles last as long as possible
- It has super high reviews and is recommended by many people in the horse industry
If you go with any of these leather cleaners, you will be left with a very well cleaned saddle. All of these products are high-quality and all of them are things I’d greatly recommend.
Best Leather Conditioning Products:
After you are done using your leather cleaner, it is time then to jump into using conditioning products on your saddle. These are my favorite leather conditioning products that never once have failed me.
I love this leather conditioner for many reasons. These are the 3 main reasons I recommend this leather conditioner:
- It is made with many natural ingredients
- It repels water once this conditioner is absorbed into the leather (which reduces the possibility of mold)
- It has great reviews and can be used on many other objects outside of saddles and bridles
This product is a high quality product that I recommend for those of you whose saddle needs the most help.