LEARN HOW TO PROTECT YOUR SADDLE AGAINST THE ELEMENTS…
Leather is very much like our own human skin… Weather can affect its moisture content and overall condition. Extreme heat and extreme cold each have their unique challenges, therefore your saddle’s care during summer vs. winter may differ! Here are some tips that may help your saddle weather the weather and continue to perform at its best!
ALL YEAR ROUND...
Store your saddle and tack indoors if possible. A more consistent temperature with good ventilation is best.
Always wipe your saddle with a clean damp cloth…dust and hydrochloric acid (in sweat) are enemies of leather. A good saddle soap such as Castile (or even a tiny bit of washing liquid such as Leather Therapy Wash in tepid water) applied with a damp sponge/cloth will help remove any dirt and sweat Don’t forget the backside of your fenders, as they can be especially dirty. Always wipe again with a clean, damp cloth. Allow your saddle to dry thoroughly before oiling.
If you have Wax Wear components on your saddle (i.e. The NHS Carry Me or The NHS Deep Seat Light) – Lightly brush off dried mud and dirt with a brush. Start with plain water for cleaning. Hose it off, gently use a scrub brush, rinse, and let it dry. Less is more. For stubborn spots or stains a mild bar soap, flake soap, or saddle soap may help clean specific areas. Test a small area first.
If you find the canvas drying out we offer a wax conditioner right from Martexin called Martexin Wax Wear Conditioner. It’s their original formula and should be used sparingly. Warm up the canvas and the can of wax a little bit. Sunshine works, so does a hair dryer. Rub a little of the wax conditioner in, apply a little more heat so the wax sinks into the canvas then let it cool and dry. Repeat if necessary but don’t overdo it, a little is all you need.
Maintaining suppleness increases the life of your saddle. Next, we would suggest using a saddle oil (100 % pure Neatsfoot is our choice) before you condition the leather. Be sure to oil both sides of the leather and simply apply with cloth (a piece of wool is perfect for this). Don’t ever SOAK leather, a simple thin layer and light wipe is enough. Ideally, let the oil dry in for a little while, then once it has soaked in you can condition your saddle. Neatsfoot oil should be used sparingly. It softens leather and covers any minor imperfections nicely, but you don’t want to make leather too soft and lose its integrity/strength.
Conditioning your saddle is a final and important step. There are many products on the market to use as a conditioner and may be labelled as a protectant, finishing agent, balsam etc. (no petroleum products, please). These will serve to seal the leather fibres and add protection from moisture and dust. If you have a ‘rough out’ saddle, you may oil the underside, however, you are best to skip the ‘protect’ stage on the ‘rough’ side. You can simply ‘renew’ the leather once it is dry with a wire brush – this will ‘roughen’ up the leather fibres once again. If you live in very DAMP/HUMID conditions we would suggest skipping the oiling step as oil can attract mould. Simply clean and condition your saddle. You can always oil your saddle before use if you feel it may need softening/moisture. Keeping in saddle bags in HUMID conditions can also encourage mould, so best to leave it on a well-shaped rack (rounder preferred, not triangular) with good ventilation. Simply oil your saddle prior to riding…
When the weather begins to get cold there are some things you need to consider regarding your leather saddle. With changing daytime/nighttime temperatures and cold damp air, leather tends to go through some changes that aren’t always welcomed!
Leather (much like our own skin) can tend to dry out and even crack! If you are packing away your tack for a prolonged period of time over winter, it is best to clean, nourish and protect the leather before storage – keeping in mind that you are not wanting to attract mould, therefore having good ventilation is key!
Perhaps consider a Western Dust Cover or English Dust Cover or cover with a bag for winter storage as that will prevent a build-up of moisture. If you end up with mud, snow or a rain-soaked saddle, be sure to clean it with saddle soap and allow to dry thoroughly inside. *Not directly in front of a heater* A damp saddle that dries and doesn’t receive any conditioning will end up dry and brittle. Always pay attention to areas that are known to be under stress (billets, rigging, the underside of fenders, tops of leathers) and ensure they are cleaned, nourished and protected.
The sun and heat can cause issues for your saddle in a few ways. The sunlight is known to darken Western saddle leather color and lighten English leather color- Be sure to always keep your saddle out of the sun when not in use (if you prefer to have your saddle stay a similar tone). Keeping in mind oiling also affect leather color and some darkening is inevitable/expected.
The heat from the sun will dry out your leather. Be sure to take it through the CLEAN, NOURISH and PROTECT stages of care regularly to avoid drying out and cracking. The warmer weather means dust! Dust is very fine and gets into the pores of the leather. Be sure to CLEAN thoroughly with saddle soap well to remove and allow the leather grain to absorb any replenishing oils you’ve used.
If you are in a humid environment – the drier the air the better. Invest in a small dehumidifier where you store your tack. Moisture can be leather’s worst enemy! Be sure to clear away sweat and dirt from the underside of your saddle – If you have a FELT, FLEECE or Suede-covered MEMORY FOAM underside, use a fine plastic bristle brush to brush away dried sweat or dirt. You do NOT want to wet these.
Your saddle should be stored on a commercial or handmade saddle stand in a dry if possible climate controlled room. We recommend using a fleece wrap for your saddle stand. This will help prevent your saddle from getting pressure points from the metal bars of the saddle stand. Its also highly recommended you make sure your saddle is always sitting straight.
Always cover your saddle to keep it free from dust. Dust is actually sharp and very harmful to your leather. Try not to stack your saddles, this can cause unwanted dents in the leather, suede and wool flocking.
When travelling we recommend that you lay your saddle in a padded carrier or on a clean blanket on its side. Accessories –If you are caring for your saddle, it’s important to also care for your other items. Leather bridles, girths, breast collars and stirrup leathers all need the same treatment as mentioned above.
Mohair Cinches are also in need of regular cleaning. Use a stiff brush occasionally to rid the fibers of noticeable dirt. If your cinch is very dirty, gently wash the grime and salt out by holding both rings with the underside of the cinch facing out, dip cinch in a bucket of lukewarm water and mild soap. Don’t worry about getting all of the horsehairs out. The horses’ hair fills up the cracks in the cinch cords, and felts with the mohair to make the cinch even more comfortable for the horse.
Leather Latigos are best to be cleaned with saddle soap, and then have a layer of baby powder applied to them. Never oil your latigos – that would cause weakening and stretching.
Your saddle pads need care too! Hydrochloric Acid builds up in the fibers of your pads. If you are using our thermodynamic memory foam SMART PAD, we recommend washing your pad’s shell and SmartFoam inserts – read the full instructions under the ‘Technical Specs and Features’ section of our SMART PAD product page.
If you are using our AIR PAD, you can find instructions once again, under the ‘Technical Specs and Features’ section.Whatever weather you are weathering, we hope these tips are useful.Keep in mind the better the grade of leather you have on your saddle the more durable they are, but leather is NOT an indestructible material. When you invest heavily in your dream saddle, protection is everything!If you’d like more information on saddle care tips, be sure to visit www.naturalhorsemansaddles.com or contact us firstname.lastname@example.org