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.
Step 1 – Cleaning
To clean your saddle, simply wipe it with a damp, soapy cloth. Glycerine soap is perfect for this. If you have basketweave stamping or intricate tooling you can use a soft tooth or nail brush to clean these areas. Be careful not to scrub too hard as you don’t want to damage the stamping/tooling. If you’ve purchased one of our saddle care kits, the soft brush included is perfect for this.
Step 2 – Nourishment
To nourish the leather, coat it in olive oil or Neatsfoot oil at least twice a year (more if the saddle is under heavy use). While we have always used olive oil on our personal saddles and never had a problem with mice nibbling on them, if you live in an area that is prone to mice, you might want to consider using Neatsfoot oil instead. 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.
If you have purchased a Mathew Murray saddle from us you will find that we have used our special conditioner under the seat jockeys to minimise squeak and oiled and conditioned the whole saddle before pick-up/posting. You may notice that there is a thin film of white substance on top of your leather when you first get it. This is the leather conditioner and has been left on purpose to help preserve and protect the leather during the transit process from us to you. Give it a good rub with a soft cloth and it will disappear into the leather. If you live somewhere cold, you might find it easier to rub in after putting the saddle in the sun for a little while to soften the conditioner.
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. If you have to put a saddle away long-term, wrap it 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