Neely Heidorn | 8/24/2011 1:29:58 AM
One of the most difficult things to do these days is to find time to do things like clean and oil saddles and tack. With all the things we have to do in our busy schedules, saddles and tack seem to always end up at the bottom of the list or not even on the list.
If you’ve ever been in a situation where your immediate help was needed horseback and you had to use gear that belonged to someone else and they didn’t even use it regularly, a little oil on the saddle and reins sure would have been nice.
You're probably seeing cracks in the headstall, cracks in the rein loops; the reins are stiff as a board; you can’t adjust the stirrup leathers because they are stuck; strings break easily; the flank cinch is impossible to buckle or unbuckle; the cinch hobble is about to break and you know that means – there could be a rodeo about to take place; rats have begun to eat on the rawhide-covered tree. In a situation like this, a person can’t ride properly and the horse will get mixed signals because you’re not comfortable.
Good horse people keep their tack in good working order. Here are a few ideas to make keeping up your tack a little easier and interesting.
Cleaning Tools and Supplies
You can over-oil a saddle, so apply oil sparingly and let it penetrate. When the saddle feels good to the touch – not stiff, but supple – stop oiling and let it sit.
Oiling a saddle will darken it over time and keep the leather alive. Not oiling it because you don’t want to darken it will over time will let the leather dry out and become brittle, and there is no bringing it back to life.
For roughing-out saddles you can use about 80 grit sandpaper or a soft wire brush, rubbing and brushing lightly to bring back original texture.
Do not oil padded seats or rawhide.
On tooled saddles or smooth saddles after they are cleaned and oiled, use paste Fiebing’s Soap like wax. Apply, let set, and then polish to a shine.
Apply saddle dressing to the backs of rigging, backside of fenders and stirrup leathers, backside of billets and any area that comes into contact with the horse.
On rawhide cantle binders, horn binders, stirrups, etc. do not oil. After cleaning, apply rawhide dressing.
Keep your saddles and tack stored in an area that is rat- and mouse-proof if possible and the air at least gets circulated. Stagnant air and humidity will cause your leather gear to mold if it is oiled with 100% Pure Neatsfoot Oil. 100% Pure Neatsfoot Oil will also attract rats and mice.
Use “Sheps” Light Harness Oil if possible or Fiebing’s Saddle Oil. 100% Pure Neatsfoot Oil is excellent for leather, but south Louisiana weather (moisture and humidity) combined with 100% Pure Neatsfoot Oil is not a good combination.
Storage of your saddle should be on a saddle stand that is tall enough to keep stirrups high enough off the ground to prevent rodents from having easy access to something to chew on. The stand should also be wide enough to support the skirts so they don’t begin to roll in. If the saddle is not being used for a week or so, you can install a broom handle through the stirrups to keep them twisted.