Every saddler and rider has their own opinion on how to best care for their leather gear. However, one thing that everyone can agree on is that if you regularly clean and condition your leather saddles and tack, they will have a much longer lifespan. If cared for correctly, a well used saddle can last anywhere from 15-20 years…maybe even longer! Putting a bit of time and elbow grease into caring for your leather gear, will keep it soft and shiny, and most importantly, make it last longer. Your saddle and other tack is often a big investment, so you want to get the most out of it. Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to spend LESS money on new gear?
When it comes to choosing the right products for the job, it can be hard to know what products will not only get the job done, but will provide the greatest of care, and support the longevity of your gear. The dedicated team at Equinade have spent over 40 years producing a range of horse care products, including leather care products that consist only of the highest quality ingredients. With so many products in the Equinade Leather Care range, there is a product for every job, and for every horse lover’s preference. This article will break down the role of each product in the range and give you some tips on how to use them all.
Cleaning your leather gear
It goes without saying, that in the hot and dry Australian climate, riding can often be a sweaty, dirty affair. That being said, you should make time to care for your tack each time it is used. After every use, it is important that you wipe down leather tack with a cool, damp, soft cloth before storing it away. It is important to use cool water for cleaning your leather gear, as warm or hot water can break down the natural oils and waxes in leather and cause the leather to deteriorate more quickly. This is also a great opportunity to inspect your gear, paying particular attention to any creases, joins and stitching, and looking for signs of deterioration.
Whilst there is no set recommendation for how often you should give your gear a more thorough wash, we would suggest starting with every 5-6 rides. Over time you will get to know your gear and learn how often it is required…sometimes this can be more, sometimes less often. Watch for any drying or stiffness of the leather, or any areas of deterioration. If it’s not soft and shiny, then it probably needs some maintenance.
When you do decide to give your leather gear a thorough clean, you will need to have a stash of clean cloths ready to go, Equinade Leather Care products, some elbow grease and a little time! Now, it’s just a matter of choosing your preferred leather soap. An old favourite for the reliable cleaning of all leather gear is the Equinade Glycerine Leather Soap. Specially formulated to have a high glycerine content, the Glycerine Leather Soap will ensure that all grime and dirt is removed, whilst softening the leather and preventing it from drying out. Simply apply with a damp cloth and work it into the leather evenly, then buff off any excess with a clean, dry cloth. With a carefully selected blend of premium oils, waxes, and lanolin for softening, theEquinade Liquid Leather Soap is perfect for even the finest of leather items. Available in a handy pump pack, the Liquid Leather Soap will be preferred by riders for its ease of use in cleaning all leather products. Using a soft cloth, the Liquid Leather Soap is applied to the leather and once dry, is polished off with a clean, dry cloth. Too easy!
Oiling your leather
Once your leather gear is nice and clean, the next step is to use a high quality leather oil which will absorb deeply into the leather fibres and keep them soft and manageable. If your leather gear is a little old or dried out, using a quality oil after cleaning will help to restore the leather. A time honoured tradition for riders of all ages is to use Neatsfoot Oil. Did you know that Neatsfoot Oil has been used to oil leather since the 18th century? No wonder it is so popular! Equinade Premium Neatsfoot Oilis a highly refined, high quality oil, and is easily absorbed into leather to soften and preserve it. Neatsfoot Oil is simply applied with a brush and left to absorb for 2-3 hours…plenty of time to give some love to your horse while you wait! After it is absorbed, you can wipe any excess away with a soft, dry cloth. If you’d prefer an oil that is designed to absorb quickly, Equinade Leather & Saddle Oil is the perfect choice. It contains a unique blend of oils, waxes and lanolin, so it will not only oil your gear, but will also condition it. The best part? Equinade Leather & Saddle Oil will soften and preserve your leather without damaging stitching. It’s such an all round, exceptional quality product! Using a soft paintbrush, apply Equinade Leather & Saddle oil lightly and evenly to all sides of the leather item, allow for absorption and buff off with a clean, dry cloth. The natural ingredients will leave the leather nourished and soft, just take a look at the before and after images below to see how well Equinade Leather & Saddle Oil can restore leather.
Conditioning your leather
If you want to ensure that your beautifully clean, oiled and nourished leather is protected from water damage, drying out and fading, then using a leather conditioner or leather wax as the final step in your leather maintenance process is a must! This step is the fun part (if that is even a thing!) of the process, because this is where you get to see all of your hard work shine. There is nothing more satisfying than hanging up perfectly polished leather gear in the tack room as you leave for the day.
Your choice of leather conditioner really comes down to personal preference. Equinade produces two leather waxes, both with enough benefits to keep everyone happy. Equinade Natural Leather Dressing is 100% natural, and will provide leather gear with a strong barrier to waterproof and prevent drying out. If you’re after a modern and delicious alternative, Equinade Coconut Leather Conditioner will give the most luxuriously soft finish to your leather gear, including your more delicate leather items. Containing waxes and coconut oil, Equinade Coconut Leather Conditioner has gained crazy popularity amongst horse enthusiasts, not only for its beautiful texture, but also for its delicious coconut fragrance. You can dream about your next tropical holiday while you shine those leather items! The saddle below was cleaned with Equinade Liquid Leather Soap, and conditioned with Equinade Coconut Leather Conditioner.
Once you know how to care for your leather gear properly, you will notice how much more soft and manageable it is. Well maintained leather gear will last so much longer, so the effort required is totally worth it. The range of Equinade Leather Care is available from Saddlery stores across Australia. With a little bit of hard work, you can look forward to getting many years of use out of your tack, which in our minds, simply means a lot more riding to enjoy!