Leather Care Tips

Leather Care Tips

Cleaning tack is no ones favorite past time but it is an important part of keeping you and your horse safe for future rides.


About 30 minutes depending on the condition of the saddle


Saddle soap
Bucket of warm water
Nylon-bristle brush
Leather conditioner Soft rag or scrap of sheepskin

1. Using saddle soap, water and nylon brush, clean the saddle with just enough pressure to work up a lather on the leather. Remember to thoroughly clean areas that directly touch the horse (fenders, stirrup leathers, billets, latigos and back cinch). The most important part of tack care is getting the dirt out of the leather pores. You need to make sure that leather is clean. That’s going to take elbow grease, but the more you work with the leather, the more beautiful it gets. You want to soap up one area of the tack, then wipe it clean with a sponge. As long as the soap suds keep turning gray, you need to keep cleaning.

2. With the sponge and water, flush clean the areas you’ve lathered. This process removes surface dirt and opens the leather’s pores, which releases dirt that’s penetrated the leather. Don’t be worried about using large amounts of water this will not hurt your saddle unless you don’t allow it to dry.

3. Allow the leather to partially dry to the point where it’s almost dry but not stiff.

4. Apply leather conditioner. Use a scrap of sheepskin if it’s an oil-based product or your hands for a wax-based conditioner. Pay close attention to areas that contact the horse. If the leather is particularly dry and stiff, use 100-percent neatsfoot oil. Apply the oil sparingly, because over-oiling adds weight to the saddle, causes the product to bleed from the leather in hot weather, and can break down the leather’s fibers. Wax-based products are suitable for all saddle surfaces (front- and backsides). The wax helps seal the leather so dirt and salt don’t readily penetrate the surface. Hand-rub wax-based products into the saddle’s surface when the leather is warmed to room temperature or outside on a warm day.  After applying conditioner, buff off any excess product with scrap sheepskin or a soft rag so the saddle’s surface isn’t sticky and doesn’t attract dust.

Remember to check your saddle as well! When cleaning your tack it is very important to take the time to look it over with a keen eye.

Check for any wear and tear that might need to be addressed now by checking the saddle rigging. Make sure that the leather is not worn and that the stitching isn’t frayed.

Horse sweat is one of the worse enemies of saddle leather. The salt in dried sweat absorbs the natural oils in leather. Eventually, if left there it will first dry the leather out and then the leather will start to split or form cracks. Make sure your saddle leather is not dry and cracking; if it is, clean and oil the leather to make it supple again.

On Western rigged saddles, first check the area around the rigging plate. Look over the leather for dryness and cracking. Check the rivets that attach the plate to the leather. Make sure they haven’t stretched the leather and pulled loose.

Check your latigo and offside billet for wear, drying and cracking.

Run your hands through the wool on the bottom of your saddle to feel for any pressure points or nails trying to work their way loose.

If any of your tack needs repair and/or a good once over we are a drop of point for Saddle Bronc Leather. Call Connie at 520-682-7123 and let her know what you need and when and she will gladly help you make your tack safe for riding.

As for actual products to use there are so many opinion and testimonials that as a tack owner you will have to do the research and come to a conclusion for yourself. However we have provided you with a list of products we stock on the shelf here at the store and links so you may read up on what we have on hand.






From Farnam:

Deep Conditioner & Restorer

Leather New Saddle Soap

Leather New Foam



From Lexol:



Neatsfoot Oil





From Fiebing:

Saddle Soap

Aussie Leather Conditioner

Liquid Glycerine Saddle Soap

Pure Neastfoot Oil






From Bickmore:

Bick 4 Conditioner





From Ray Holes Leather:

Saddle Butter

Chap Wax

Rawhide Cream

Dri Boot

If you have any questions on any of the following or would like more help in this area of tack care just give us a call or e-mail!

  1. Debbie Young says:

    Great tips! Makes me want to get out there and start cleaning. Thank you!

  2. Camila says:

    awesome post thanks!

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