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Saddle Care Guide - Saddles Direct

Saddle Care Guide

Here at Saddle Direct, we realise how exciting it is to purchase a new saddle and how eager everyone is to take good care of it, after all, it is a highly valuable investment for you and your horse. So, we have put together this helpful care guide, providing you with tips and tricks for keeping and storing saddles.


The old-fashioned theory was to lather in Saddle soap/glisterine/neatfsoot oil…Bad. Stop. Abort!

You need to clean and feed the leather rather than suffocate, drown and over build it.

The best thing for cleaning leather is warm water and pure soap. Firstly, with a soft brush remove all the excess dirt, sand, grease first then wipe off with a cloth and warm water gently adding small amounts of soap lather up and clean then again with clean cloth wipe all excess off and leave to dry.

A gently fairy liquid type soap can also do the trick but always use the ‘GENTLE’ version so not to add too many chemicals to the leather.


Feeding is the single most important thing you can do to prolong the lifespan of your saddles and tack. Once you have cleaned and left to dry, you need a LEATHER FEED. Leather feed/balsam is usually manufactured by the leather manufacturers consisting of many ingredients needed some main ones being bees wax, lanolin. Leather is in fact an animal skin and as we all know skin needs nourishing to thrive, same applies to leather.

Some Feed/balsam’s we recommend are: Sedgewick’s Feed, NAF Luxe Leather Balsam, NAF Luxe Leather Food.

Some Leather feeds can leave a matte-like finish which sometimes for competing isn’t the desired look. Fear not once the leather has been fed you can then use other products to get a nice shine. We recommend: NAF Luxe Cleanse & Condition and Effax leather Balm.

Patent is a totally different game. Patent leather has a film over the top, so nothing penetrates and so feeding is pointless. To get a nice shine on patent wipe clean and use multi surface furniture polish (you heard it here first!) and buff up a nice crystal shine!

Suede. Suede is also a different again. Suede is the inside of the skin turned around to give the rough grain side up. Suede needs to be brushed and buffed to maintain. Wire suede brushes bought from any local cobblers etc will be perfect. DONT BE GENTLE! A lot of people think you need to be gentle, not the case. You need to give it a good buff to get the suede back up from the shiny sunken-down almost leather like effect it gives when wearing.


Be honest it’s been drilled into us all soak your new tack in oil before using. Saturate anything that is stiff in oil it will soften.

NO!! Oil is a great tool when used correctly. The old wives’ tale of soaking anything leather made in oil is lessening the items life span. The oil surrounds the leather trapping any moisture inside and has a reverse effect as it then dries the leather out and eventually rots from the inside out.

Oil also opens the fibres allowing leather to stretch…so for anyone oiling your new girth straps, stirrup leathers and reins expect them to stretch…a lot! We highly discourage anyone oiling Girth straps, stirrup leathers and reins. These are your life lines, and should they fail by stretching too thin from the oil allowing the fibres to open could be catastrophic!

Oil is not all bad though, it does in fact do the intended and does soften leather, when used correctly! You do not need to saturate the leather a nice even coating will do, if it soaks in quickly that is fine it will only absorb what it needs. So, if you do have an old bridle which is stiff as a board. Clean correctly, feed correctly then give it a little oil. Most of the time after a good feed the item will be fine anyway but if still a little still give an even coat of oil should be like new!


Any leather tack be saddles, bridles etc all need to be stored correctly to avoid any parasite attacks. The last thing you want it to be heading out for a jolly plod and your tack being covered in green mould or worse have an infestation of leather mite, yes that is a thing!

You should keep your tack room well ventilated and the air circulating well, a de-humidifier is a fantastic asset to invest in.  Also, you want the right temperature. Now we’re not talking tropical climate but on the flip side Antarctic conditions won’t help either. A nice room temperature is needed to keep leather from drying out or getting damp.

It is a good idea to store saddles with covers on this helps to protect from mould, mite, damp and sunlight damage. The same applies for bridles they should ideally be stores on hangers in bridle bags. Saddles to be stored on correct saddle racks which evenly distribute the weight so the flocking does not get impaled or get lumpy.

For more expert advice, handy tips, and saddle-related content, make sure to follow us on Facebook & Instagram @saddlesdirect.

If your saddle is looking a bit tired and you've been contemplating an upgrade, seeking the perfect fit and unparalleled comfort, make sure you take advantage of our saddle trial!

With our Saddle Trial, you can have not just one, but TWO saddles at your disposal for a generous five-day period. Ride, test, book a fitting and decide which one feels teh best! Our saddle fitting experts will be by your side, guiding you every step of the way to ensure you find the perfect saddle for you and your horse.

At Saddles Direct, we're not just passionate about saddle care; we're dedicated to ensuring you have the best riding experience possible. Our mission is to empower you with knowledge and be a part of your journey towards a healthier, happier, and safer horse riding adventure. We are the saddle people.

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