We always advise that you think about the leather in your saddle in the same way that you do about your skin – it needs to be kept clean and well-nourished with access to plenty of fresh air.
To clean your saddle, simply wipe it with a damp, soapy cloth. To nourish the leather, coat it in olive oil or Neatsfoot oil at least twice a year (more if the saddle is under heavy usage). Once the oil has soaked into the fibres, follow up with a leather conditioner like Oakwood or Ge-Wy. The leather conditioner will obviously help preserve and protect your saddle but it can also be used to stop any excessive squeaking.
When storing your saddle, it is best to hang it up to ensure that it has good air-flow around it. In particular, make sure it is not resting up against a corrugated iron wall as the steel will cause the leather to perish faster. For long-term storage, saddles are best wrapped in a blanket with moth balls and put in the back of a wooden cupboard. We’ve seen many an old saddle that has been preserved in this way and they don’t seem to have aged at all.
Best tips for keeping your saddle in top condition:
- Wipe excess dust off after use
- Nourish leather with olive oil or Neatsfoot oil at least twice a year
- Preserve and protect with leather conditioner
- Hang your saddle up when not in use