Leather Longevity: How To Get The Most Out Of Your Tack
When making a purchase as expensive as a saddle, or any tack for that matter, you are making an investment. Oftentimes these investments are made with the intention of having that item for years to come. So, how do people ensure that their tack lasts as long as possible?
This year I bought myself a 2018 Voltaire Stuttgart and as I anxiously awaited the 3 months until it arrived, I decided to do some research. My research led me to find many threads discussing saddle care, many people spoke about their tried and true methods of keeping their leather in top condition. While I have owned two other saddles throughout my riding career, none have been of the same quality as my Voltaire and I wanted to ensure that I took the upmost care of it. Especially because I had never been through the process of breaking in a saddle before.
I also took the opportunity to speak to a few of my past trainers and asked about their lessons learned throughout the years regarding tack care. After getting some great tips I was armed with a new "tool belt" to pull from when it came to taking care of my new saddle! Now, not only do I know how to properly care for my saddle, but my other tack items as well- and I'm sharing these tips with you!
Some Important Things To Know:
1) A high quality soft sponge will be your best friend! I suggest different colors so you know which product they're used for.
2) Cleaning your tack with soap after every ride strips away the leathers natural oils. By stripping away these important oils you leave the leather prone to premature cracking and aging.
3) Investing in a high quality conditioner, and using it daily is the best way to keep your tack looking new! It also helps keep the tack feeling grippy which helps you stick in the tack, and I know I need all the help I can get.
4) Balsams are a great addition to your cleaning regimen but, should only be used when you have the time to really work it into the tack and it has an extended period of time to soak into the leather.
5) The best way to break in a saddle is with lots of saddle time and the help of a little water. Don't be afraid to just use a sponge and a bit of water on the flaps prior to your first few rides with any new tack , this will help to supple the leather and expediate the break in process! I wouldn't suggest putting it on the seat of your saddle though unless it is mixed with tack cleaner and immediately wiped off.
So, what is my tack regimen?
1) After every single ride I let my tack dry from any possible sweat and then use an extremely generous amount of Leather Honey Conditioner and work it into the leather using a sponge.
2) I allow my tack to sit uncovered until it has absorbed the conditioner fully. (I keep my tack at home)
3) I deep clean my tack using Tattersall Soap every 3-4 rides depending on how much ride time I have had each ride. If I am just hacking all week, I usually clean it every 4 rides, if I jump 1-2 times in a lesson that week I will clean it every 3 rides.
4) Follow up with another deep conditioning treatment after cleaning your saddle to reintroduce any essential oils that may have been stripped away.
5) I use the Voltaire Balsam once every 2 weeks and work it into deeply every nook and cranny. I ensure to do this when my mare has the following day off to allow it to soak in.
This helps me keep all of my tack and tall boots in pristine condition! Ensuring that I get the most out of the money I invest into each item! It is just an added bonus this care regimen keeps your tack extra grippy, helping you stay in the tack during any unexpected moments.