How to Clean and Care of Your Horse Saddle

cleaning saddle with glove

A saddle is one of the most expensive pieces of the tack. Proper care will greatly enhance the gear’s longevity and durability. Check your saddle every time you’re about to ride. In case you’re a frequent rider, a horse saddle requires everyday maintenance. This article reveals all the tips on how to clean a horse saddle.

Cleaning a Horse Saddle

Get a thorough cleaning of your saddle on a regular basis. After every time you ride is perfect. If you skip one session – no worries. Just make sure dirt and dust don’t accumulate excessively on the gear.

Before you clean your saddle, check the product’s description. The makers of English and Western saddles are likely to leave a list of products that work well with the leather tack.

wiping black leather saddle

Here are the goods that you’ll need for leather saddle cleaning and conditioning:

  • Leather cleaner, glycerin soap, or saddle soap
  • Leather conditioner
  • Stiff brush
  • Sponge
  • Towel
  • Saddle items cleaner
  • Bucket of water

A good thing to know that some manufactures offer a 2-in-1 leather saddle cleaner and conditioner. Check the market to find the best solution to clean horse tack.

girl cleaning black saddle

How to Clean a Saddle Step-by-Step

Use saddle soaps and avoid caustic household chemicals. Also, don’t use products that contain alcohol, mineral spirits, and turpentine. Baby wipes are not good for saddles as well. Use clean rags and towels instead.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean a leather saddle properly.

1. Preparation

Remove fittings and unfasten buckles so all the leather parts are accessible. Start with a slightly wet towel. Go through the entire saddle. Remove as much dust, dirt, mud, and hair as possible.

2. Cleaning

Use a vacuum cleaner, a hairdryer (cold mode), or an air compressor to remove dust. Get a damp sponge. Apply a little saddle soap or leather cleaner on it. Glycerin soap is preferred for leather cleaning, as it removes less natural lubricants that leather produces.

Go all over the leather making circular motions. Cover all the leather items avoiding suede areas. Clean the underline of the leather and reach between the flaps. This will help to seal the pores as well as clean the tack.

girl cleaning sponge

3. Soap Removing

Use a slightly damp towel to remove the excess soap residue. Check the folds and cracks where the soap can accumulate. Otherwise, the residue may damage the saddle over time. Use a cotton swab in case you can’t reach some areas with the towel.

4. Drying

Leather is a natural material that needs to breathe. Let it dry outdoors but avoid direct sunlight. A natural and artificial heat lamp may cause a backfire. This makes leather brittle and affects its longevity. In this case, such a saddle is not recommended to use anymore.

Additionally, you can apply neatsfoot oil if your saddle is very dry. This will help to make the leather pliable. Put a thin coat of oil on the underline of the tack. Don’t apply too much oil to the good. Keep in mind neatsfoot oil may darken leather. Thus, you may need to consider another leather oil for a light-colored tack.

5. Conditioner Applying

Use a non-detergent leather saddle conditioner. Read the instruction to not overdo it. Overapplying with a leather conditioner may lead to getting it through to the padding or the saddle tree. This can damage the horse tack over some time.

6. Saddle Accessories Cleaning

Apart from leather, your saddle may include metal or silver accessories. Take a dry cloth and clean the metal items. These are buckles and stirrup leathers. Apply silver polish where needed and avoid leather areas.

Check this video to get the hang of the horse saddle cleaning process.

How to Restore Horse Saddle From Mold

When you discovered the mold on the saddle, the very first thing to do is to isolate the infected saddle. As mold spores may spread to the rest of the tack. Ideally, clean the saddle outdoors. This will help to avoid spreading the spores in the barn. Then use the following steps to get rid of mold from your saddle.

  1. Untack the saddle.
  2. Use a damp cloth to remove as much mold as possible. Use another cloth next time you clean your saddle to avoid spore harboring. Alternatively, wash the cloth with bleach.
  3. Get a clean bucket. Pour white vinegar and water (1:2 ratio) into it. Alternatively, you can get a bucket of water with antibacterial dish soap. Use a toothbrush and a clean cloth to get into folds and crevices. Clean the leather part carefully. Dry leather in a warm and ventilated room. Or you can air dry naturally in the shade. Make sure direct sunlight doesn’t reach the tack. As if combined with vinegar, it may cause cracks on the gear.
  4. Check if the saddle is completely dry. Clean the tack with non-glycerine-based saddle soap. Keep in mind glycerine might provide nourishment for mold. Check leather care anti-mold cleaners that protect from mold recurrence.
  5. Condition your saddle with balsam to moisture the gear and make the leather soft.
  6. Store the clean leather goods in a tack room. Place leather tack that’s still infected separately.
black saddles rest on saddle stands

How to Store a Saddle Properly

Once your saddle is completely cleaned, dried, and oiled, it’s time to store it. Look for a climate-controlled spot to keep your horse tack when not in use. It must be a dry, air-ventilated area away from sunlight and heat.

Here are useful tips on how to store your saddle:

  • Coat the saddle in dressing. This will help to keep the leather pliable.
  • Wrap the tack in a saddle bag to keep it away from the mold. Don’t use an airtight plastic trunk or a plastic bag. A saddle cover must be made from a breathable material. Newspaper or fabric is a great solution to keep the leather from dirt and dust.
  • Check the gear on a regular basis even if the tack is not in use for long. Do it at least every six weeks to apply another layer of dressing.
  • Store your saddle away from horse feed. As the last one may attract rodents.
conditioning black leather saddle

Important Saddle Care Tips

  • Use leather oil or balsam if your saddle is too dry.
  • Use warm water and a soft brush to remove excess dirt from the saddle. Don’t forget to apply the conditioner at the end. As warm water tends to dry leather.
  • Warm water and a soft brush also work well with a synthetic leather saddle. Add gentle soap to warm water. Remove dirt with the brush. Rinse the tack and let it dry out.
  • Check folds and curves for accumulated sweat.
  • Saddle oil can darken the leather.
  • Apply a light coat of oil on the gear. Otherwise, it could soak through laminated and glued layers of the saddle tree.
  • Don’t apply baby oil or olive oil to horse saddles.
  • Check the stitching regularly.
  • Get a saddle stand for your tack room. It will keep the gear off the ground. Make sure the rear skirts can rest on the stand flawlessly. If there’s a broom handle, get it through the stirrups.
  • Store your tack in the house during cold seasons.
girl assembling black saddle

Horse Saddle Care Revealed

Keep your equipment neat and clean to prolong its lifespan. Besides, a well-cared tack won’t irritate the horse’s skin. This will make riding comfortable for you and your horse.

There’s a special routine for leather saddles. Each step, from cleaning to drying, is essential. Most saddles come already oiled and covered with a protective finish. Such a softening is important as we do to our own skin. Considering the guidelines mentioned above will help you to keep your horse tack usable for long.

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David Garcia

David Garcia

David Garcia is a vivid writer and a big fan of equestrian sports. He founded Horsezz – the blog where David shares his knowledge and experience about horses, tack, equestrian riding equipment, taking care of horses, and other useful guidelines.