Besides being a major saddle pad collector, I’m also a tack cleaner product collector and subsequently, a sponge collector (I have 40 somehow). Cleaning tack is the most relaxing thing in the world to me. Nothing but me, some dirty tack and a binge session on Netflix. Its a ritual for me, and something I desperately want to implement in my daily riding routine, but it’s also on average 20-15 degrees now when I’m done with riding and my barn stock of tack cleaning supplies are nice and slushy currently.
When it comes to tack cleaning supplies, I’m willing to try out any product and see if it makes a difference with my leather items. I tend to test all and every product on my schooling tall boots because I know those will never see a show ring again, or my Dublins. I’m not very nice to my shoes, so both will most likely be destroyed from so much use in a few years.
For a few years, when I discovered my love of tack cleaning, I was an all glycerin girl. Just squirt some saddle soap on my rag and or sponge and go. And it worked for a while until I had an issue with it and my hands started breaking out getting it all over my hands. So I started looking for alternatives. My dressage saddle, which is buffalo leather, until recently, had the same treatment as my boots as it was so damaged, I didn’t care about more leather damage as it already looked like trash. And it was black so how much more damage could I do to a black saddle vs my brown Ovation jump saddle?
Since the Great Dye Job, I’ve been using Effax products on my saddle. I love the conditioner, but it bothers me that the cleaner is alcohol based, and I have to condition every time I wipe my saddle down. Which isn’t the worst thing in the world, but we have the dustiest arena known to mankind, and I’m the kind of gal who would prefer to wipe her saddle down every time I ride. Which realistically doesn’t happen very often, despite my best efforts.
My mom bought me some saddle soap wipes for Christmas, which solve the problem for quick and easy but defeat the purpose of avoiding glycerin products. I’ve used to use them before, but they left weird residues on my jump saddle so I stopped. Now I use them mainly on Caroline’s Pessoa because again, the dustiest ring known to mankind. And she’s super anal about what touches her saddle, so they don’t go to waste.
I also own a product called TLC, which stands for Tender Leather Care. It was a 2 in 1 product which made the leather a little tacky. Not enough to be annoying but enough to help with a little stick. Dover sells it, and it comes in some amazing scents, which was a good incentive to clean tack because it smelled so good. I only stopped using it because of the 2 in 1 idea, where maybe the saddle soap and conditioner should be separate. Like a 2 in 1 shampoo.
I also own a lanolin based saddle soap and conditioner from England. The first time we went, we stopped in Harrods, and they had a small section for horse items, mainly just polo outfits for men. I did manage to find the saddle soap and picked up a jar for a souvenir. I used it for a while and liked it, but again, it was a 2 in 1 offender, so I left it in my tack trunk to be a backup cleaner. Due to its makeup being about 50% lanolin, it melts in the summer so another drawback of that product.
And after all of that experimenting and having a box full of cleaning supplies, I’m still not sure what is best for my tack. I would contact the company, but I highly doubt Jaguar knows how to care for saddle leather, let alone buffalo leather. I might contact Harry Dabbs but it all depends. I just want to make sure everything is going well so this saddle and my jump saddle can last me as long as they can. My jump saddle is over 10 years old, and still looks relatively new minus a scratch or two. And the dressage saddle, I have no idea how old it is, but I’m more paranoid about that one then the jump saddle. Especially after how much work I put into restoring it.
If you have suggestions for a daily tack cleaner that my buffalo saddle would be okay with or have a favorite brand of cleaner, please let me know. Like I said, I’m willing to try anything.