Professional groom Jenny Ellis gives her six-step guide to caring for your leather saddles, bridles, head collars and more.
To enable a thorough clean, take your tack apart, checking that there aren’t any cracks in the leather and that all your stitching is secure, especially around the cheek piece, rein fastenings, girth straps, stirrup leathers and the girth itself.
Next, add a dash of washing-up liquid to a bucket of hot water or use a leather cleaner and take a rung out sponge or cloth to remove dirt and grease from your tack.
As you clean each piece, place it to one side to dry.
Although it’s good to wipe down your bit after each use, a soak in hot water followed by a good scrub will get rid of any dried on muck. Stirrup irons will also benefit from the same.
Once everything’s dry, metal polish will help bit rings, but never mouthpieces.
Applying Neatsfoot oil to nourish new leather is very important, as is re-oiling your tack when necessary, perhaps once a month in poor weather. You can also use leather cream or dressing. You can apply to clean, dry leather and allow to soak in.
A good quality saddle soap will protect and help it shine. Applied with a soft baby sponge, apply small quantities and rub in for a lovely sheen.
Finally, reassemble your tack and give it a final polish. If you find anything that needs restitching or replacing, get onto it straight away and if you’re storing tack, wrap it in an old pillowcase and well ventilated to protect against mould.
Inspect and re-clean any stored tack before use.