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Equestrian Leather Care Do's & Don'ts

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Horse Leather Care

Let's face it, good leather tack isn't cheap! If you have spent or are going to spend a substantial amount of money on saddles, bridles, reins and girths it makes sense to think of them as an investment and be conscientious in their care.

Tack can last for years and years if cared for properly! A good leather care regime can be really simple. Spending just a few minutes a day caring for your tack will actually go a long way toward making sure you get the most out of your investment.

The Rules of Leather Care:

Thanks to advancements in technology, the leather tanning and dyeing processes have changed, and the care of your tack should evolve as well. Many tried-and-true rules of leather care no longer apply; some methods or products are no longer necessary while others can actually be harmful to modern leather.

  • "Don't" Use Non-Leather Care Items on Your Tack: Heavy oils, harsh detergents and products not specifically formulated for leather should be kept away from your leather tack! This means no bleach, vinegar, motor oil, shoe polish, Murphy's Oil Soap, or vegetable oil (Equine Wellness Magazine).
Did you know? Saddle Soaps & similar soap type products are strongly alkaline with a pH of up to 9 or above! (A pH of 7 is neutral, and above 7 is alkaline, below is acidic).  When treated regularly with saddle soap, leather will gradually change from it's normal acidic state to alkaline. This pH change can cause the leather to darken, harden, and weaken (Jenkins, Don. The Saddle Soap Myth).

The lather of saddle soap is also difficult to rinse completely from crevices and folds. An accumulation of saddle soap will cause the leather to deteriorate, encourage mold growth, and change the pH!

Fun Fact: Saddle Soaps are generally composed of a mixture of oil & soap. The soap's cleaning effectiveness is diminished by the need to dissolve its own oils, leaving its ability to remove dirt and grime less effective! (Jenkins, Don. The Saddle Soap Myth.)

  • "Do" Keep Your Tack Clean: You don't have to take your tack apart every ride (although you should do a deep cleaning every few weeks), but get into the habit of wiping down your tack after every ride to remove dirt and sweat. This also gives you a chance to inspect your tack for safety. Lexol Quick Wipes are excellent for daily use after each ride.
Got more time to clean your tack? Use a pH balanced cleaner specifically formulated for tack, such as Lexol Leather Cleaner and be sure to follow the directions! pH balanced cleaners will remove dirt and grime without changing the pH of the leather, removing dye or drying the leather.

Be sure to apply the cleaner with a soft cloth or sponge vs. anything abrasive. Apply the cleaner to one section at a time and work up a foam to lift dirt out of leather. Use a clean, damp cloth or sponge to wipe away dirt.
  • "Do" Keep Your Tack Conditioned: Conditioning your tack is just as important as cleaning it! This means applying a "light" coat of leather conditioner to all the parts of your tack. The conditioner should absorb into the leather immediately. If you find yourself wiping off the excess you are probably using too much.
"Dont" Use Too Much Oil as it is not good for your tack! Stay away from plain oil products as they may cause the collagen fibers that make up to leather to weaken or stretch. Many of today's leather tack have already been oiled in the tanning process. Applications of a good balanced conditioner such as Lexol Leather Conditioner, which will contain the proper balance of oils, will keep your leather tack properly hydrated.


Clean Like a Pro With Award-Winning Lexol Leather Care.

For over 80 years, professionals have trusted Lexol to preserve the beauty and durability of their fine tack and leather goods. It’s this trust and experience that has made Lexol the #1 brand in leather care for saddlery.
Lexol Leather Cleaner:
  • pH balanced for safe cleaning so it won't harm your leather
  • Leaves no surface scum or residue.
  • Available as a liquid and a wipe for convenient cleaning
Lexol Leather Conditioner:
  • Helps prolong the life of your tack, protecting your investment
  • Softens leather and helps prevent cracking.
  • Voted by The Horse Journal as the best Leather Conditioner in 20 years!
  • Available as a liquid and a wipe for convenient conditioning

Best leather conditioner
Gabby Gufler

Gabby Gufler

Gabby Gufler graduated from Truman State University in 2013 with a BS in Animal Science & Nutrition and a minor in Equine Science. Gabby currently works on Manna Pro’s marketing team, and enjoys competing regularly with her six horses.

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