Western saddles are often chosen due to security and comfort for the rider and the horse. They are the saddle of choice on western movie sets as well as by rodeo riders and working cattle ranchers. A quality western horse saddle will provide years of dependable service, especially if care is taken to prolong the life and integrity of the saddle. To do so, consider following these helpful instructions recommended by most saddle companies for care of a leather western horse saddle.
- Wipe the saddle down after each ride with a damp cloth to remove dust and dirt. Be careful not to saturate the leather with water. Pay careful attention to areas with excessive wear or loose stitching.
- Once a month, sparingly clean the saddle with leather cleaner recommended by the manufacturer. A terry cloth rag and a lot of elbow grease is preferred to remove excessive dirt and mud. Never use an abrasive cleaner or scouring pad on leather saddles as either will permanently damage the finish.
- Carefully read manufacturer’s directions for oiling and conditioning instructions. Leather western saddles made from Nubuck should never be oiled or conditioned. Nubuck saddles should only be washed, cleaned and buffed with a dry sponge.
- Dry leather is prone to cracking. Most leather saddles will need to be conditioned regularly to prevent drying. Conditioning too often will result in damage to the saddle. The climate will also determine how often the saddle should be conditioned.
- Apply conditioner in a thin coat to all of the leather portions of the saddle. If the conditioner is quickly absorbed into the leather, apply a second thin coat. If the leather does not absorb the conditioner, remove excess conditioner from leather by wiping with a clean cloth.
- If the saddle is wool flocked, the wool will need to be replaced periodically. Follow the instructions of the saddle fitter for a replacement schedule. Generally, the wool should be checked every 6 to 12 months.
- The saddle should be properly stored after each ride on a storage rack. The storage rack should be in a non-humid environment. Cover the leather saddle with a clean soft blanket to protect from dust and other damage.
*Photo courtesy of Saddle Up by Laura Bernhardt at Flickr’s Creative Commons.