End of Show Season Leather Care
Well, it is about that time when we hang up our saddles for the winter! But before you do this, take the time to clean and examine your tack. With the winter approaching, you will have plenty of time to really give your saddle a good cleaning and make any necessary repairs.
Leather is meant to be flexible. In order to keep it flexible, it must be cleaned and oiled regularly. The first thing to do is to clean the saddle of dust, mud and horse hair. Glycerin based products usually work best. Next, lightly oil the saddle.
Once the saddle has been cleaned and oiled, set it on a saddle stand. Avoid laying it on the floor on its pommel as this can cause the fenders to curl. Keep your saddle dust free by covering it with a saddle cover. If you don’t have a saddle cover on hand, you can use a clean blanket or sheet.
Bridles and reins can be cleaned the same way. Be sure to hang your bridles up by the crown pieces on a round hook in order to keep their shape throughout the winter. Any rawhide should be moisturized with a rawhide cream and stored in a plastic bin.
Once your tack is nice and clean, make sure you check over it to make sure it is all in good, working order. Check for excessive wear on fenders, latigos, or stirrup leathers and billet straps. If any of the leather is cracks or breaks when you bend or flex it, it must be replaced. This is known as dry rot and leather cannot come back from it. Check all the buckles on your bridles and make sure they fasten securely. Make sure your Chicago screws are nice and tight as well.
If you find any problems with your tack, now is a great time to fix it or send it off to a saddle/leather repair shop. When your tack is returned back to you, you may consider storing it in your house if the tack room isn’t moderately heated. Extreme cold and heat is hard on leather.
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