How Do I Condition Leather Tack?

Are you asking yourself, "How do I condition leather tack?" Keeping leather tack, like saddles and bridles, conditioned will help them last for years. Some dry climates dry out leather while other parts of the country can be so humid that tack is subject to mold. Take care of tack by cleaning it regularly and conditioning it when the leather feels dried out and stiff.

To condition leather tack, you will need:

  • Soft rags or sponges
  • Several buckets of warm water
  • Mild leather soap
  • Neatsfoot oil
  • Leather conditioner
  • Glycerin saddle soap
  • A fence or sawhorse
  • An old towel or blanket
  1. Take the bridle apart. By breaking down the bridle, you can clean the leather and bit thoroughly.
  2. Clean the bit. Let the bit soak in the warm water for a few minutes. Remove it, wipe off any dirt and dry the bit.
  3. Clean the leather bridle reins and head piece. Wipe down the entire length of the leather pieces with a rag dampened with a little oil, soap and water. Pay attention to get rid of all of the dirt and oil that may have accumulated on the underside of the bridle that touches the horse.
  4. Clean the saddle. Set the saddle on a fence or a sawhorse so you can get to all of the parts. Wipe the leather portions of the saddle as you did the leather pieces of the bridle. Be sure to lift the panels to get underneath and in all of the flaps of leather.
  5. Rinse the tack. Use a clean rag dampened with clean, warm water to wipe down all of the leather pieces. Do this as you go so the soap doesn't sit on the leather too long.
  6. Condition the tack. Leather tack can dry out if not treated properly, but only condition the leather tack occasionally, when it seems stiff or dried out, not every time you clean it. Use neatsfoot oil on a clean cloth and rub it into the leather on all tack pieces. Move the leather between your hands to let the oil seep in. Wipe off excess oil with another clean, soft cloth.
  7. Seal the tack. Use a good glycerin saddle soap, such as a spray-on variety, to seal the tack. Spray the saddle soap on a clean, slightly damp cloth and rub it into the pores of the leather to seal them. Be sure to rub it in well until the leather feels soft again.

Tip: Wash saddle blankets in a mild detergent without bleach to avoid irritating the horse.

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