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Did you know saddle soap shouldn’t be used to clean gear?

Did you know saddle soap shouldn’t be used to clean gear?

Did you know saddle soap shouldn’t be used to clean gear? 🤯. Why not I hear you ask and just how should you clean your gear? Read on

Firstly, why is keeping your gear clean so important? Some reasons are because grubby gear is gross, not nice for your horse and doesn’t look nice but they are not the most important reasons. Keeping your gear in good condition makes it last longer! It costs enough money so why wouldn’t you want it to last as long as possible? Regularly cleaning gear is also a good chance to give it a once over to check all the stitching and buckles are intact which is super important for safety’s sake. If leather is properly maintained it can remain functional, supple and in good condition for many years, and importantly, retain its value.
Once a leather item starts to be used, microscopic cracks and splits occur in the leather. These cracks provide an entry site for water, dirt, grime, grease and salt from sweat, which work their way into the leather. This weakens and damages the leather which eventually causes irreparable cracks and splits. This together with heat, can cause drying, cracking and hardening. However with regular care and maintenance, this can be avoided.
Ideally, all saddlery items should be wiped after use to remove the damaging salts found in sweat and grease and be thoroughly cleaned, i.e. pulled apart and cleaned, at least every five times it is used. I wipe my bridle, girth and girth leathers down with a cleaner after every single ride. It will get a wipe over with a conditioner once a week. I’m a bit slacker on the pulling apart and through cleaning part 😉 

My go to after ride and pre-conditioning cleaning product is Belvoir Tack Cleaner. It is specifically designed to remove grease and dirt quickly and easily, without over-wetting the leather or damaging the stitching. Too much liquid may cause swelling of the collagen fibres, which ultimately stretches and weakens the leather. The pH neutral formula will not rot stitching or over dry the leather. I have a packet of water based baby wipes in the tack room to use. Quick spray, then a wipe and it's all done! 

Traditionally, saddle soap has been used to clean and condition leather. This should be avoided as it does not effectively remove grease and dirt and could actually seal them in leaving a greasy residue.
For muddy leather, carefully remove the mud before cleaning, taking care not to scratch the surface of the leather.

After you’ve cleaned, you need to condition with your favourite conditioner. This will protect it from moisture and keep it supple which helps it last much longer. Don’t forget, check all your stitching while you’re there. My favourite conditioners are below.

Belvoir Tack Conditioner Spray is a glycerine based soap which will leave a shiny, protective finish on the leather. The glycerine fills and seals pores in the leather to form a barrier against salt, dirt, grease and water. This is also available as a traditional Belvoir Conditioning Soap – saddle soap, a conditioner, not a cleaner! 🤯
The Belvoir Leather Balsam Intensive Conditioner is a really good intensive conditioner. This one has an applicator sponge in the pot so once a week after I’ve cleaned, a quick wipe with the sponge and it’s all conditioned as well!
If you prefer NZ made, The Honey Trap Leather Witch gets rave reviews. It will even revitalize old, neglected rock hard and turning white tack!

It is always wise to check the compatibility of products on a small area before full use. 
A saddle, bridle or leather girth is an investment, so it’s important to look after them from day one. 

Belvoir Tack Cleaner Spray

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