Saturday, August 22, 2009

Caring for leather tack: What are your favorite products?

I have too much planned for today and decided to forego my trip to the barn. So instead of a post about a ride, today I want to ask you about what you use to care for your leather tack.

The subject came about because I cleaned my bridle about a week ago. It had gotten really dirty, so much so that my hands turned brown after 15 or 20 minutes of riding.

I'd never had it get so dirty before, so it was totally unexpected — which is, I think, why it got so bad before I realized what was going on. I think what happened was that the neatsfoot oil I used on it last time left a bit of a residue, which attracted the (substantial amount of) dust in the back pasture where I often ride. You can see how much dust we kick up in my recent video of my posting practice.

Anyway, this time I found when I tried to clean my bridle that water just wasn't cutting it. So I tried Leather New, a product I bought with this bridle nearly two years ago, and have barely touched since.

I have to admit, it did do a pretty good job of cleaning the leather. It's supposed to moisturize it too, so I didn't use the neatsfoot oil at all this time. But I'm still a bit skeptical as to whether it will protect the leather as well as the neatsfoot oil.

What about you? What are your favorite products to use on your leather tack? I'd love to hear what everyone else uses, and see if perhaps I can find something I like a bit better.



At August 22, 2009 at 4:40 PM, Blogger Reddunappy said...

Caring for tack, something I realy need to do! usually everything gets cleaned and oiled before the fair, no kids did fair this year :(

I use Murpheys oil soap to clean. It is liquid glyserin, like all the expensive saddle cleaners you find on the shelf at the feed store, and much much more economical. Then if needed I use neetsfoot oil, or a special oil for extra dry leather ( I have one old saddle that needs it )
You just have to make sure you use pure neetsfoot oil and not neetsfoot compound, the compound has petroleum in it and will rot stiching.
A lot of times all you need to do is clean the tack with a good cleaner, and not oil it at all, oiling needs to be done probably only once a year. If it got sticky then it probably has to much oil, ie it didnt absorb it all, so it stayed on the surface. Contrary to popular belief, you can over oil leather.
This blog has great info on caring for leather.
Ok now I sheepishly go out to the shed to check on my saddles, I think I am going to sell the english saddle, as now that the girls are out of 4-H, it wont get used.

At August 22, 2009 at 6:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes a piece of leather that's old and stiff or moldy may need something like Leather New. For regular cleaning, I use bar glycerin soap, a small sponge and water, that's it. Oil or not oil is a matter of preference, but if you do oil it may need to be done only once or very rarely.

At August 23, 2009 at 1:54 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I had to go look and see what I use. I have some Fiebing's Saddle Soap in a little round tin. I also have some Leather New deep conditioner and waterproofing. I have a tube of leather wax, but rarely use it, and pure neetsfoot oil. No complaints about any of the products.

At August 24, 2009 at 8:15 AM, Anonymous Jackie said...

I have three favorite products when it comes to tack cleaning...

Murphy's Oil Soap
Lexol Light conditioning oil

I generally clean with just a little bit of warm water, but will use the Murphy's when I have something really grungy. The Lexol Light oil is great for occassional use; it's not as heavy as the Neatsfoot oil; it conditions and softens without darkening leather or making it too sticky.

My all time favorite product is a conditioner called Tattersal. I use a natural sponge and rub this into the leather after wiping it down with a damp cloth. I do this every few rides in the summer and it keeps my tack healthy and gleaming, and only takes a few minutes. If you don't try anything else, try this stuff!

At August 27, 2009 at 2:57 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Wow! Some great suggestions here! Thanks, everyone! It definitely sounds like oiling once a month, like the owner of our local tack shop told me to do, isn't really necessary after all. However, it also sounds like I need to be better about cleaning my tack frequently...

I probably did over oil my bridle last time, but it was horrifically stiff when I bought it (used), and still had some of that stiffness. Unfortunately, it had also cracked on the surface from being so stiff (and from being so cheap!), so it probably doesn't have much useful life left. I have a feeling that when I get my first new bridle (soon, I hope!) it'll be a totally different experience than that old, stiff, virtually unused and uncared for one.


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