H&H offers advice on how best to care for your leather equipment to make sure it stands the test of time…
Less dunking, more scrubbing
Many riders will straightaway dunk their muddy tack into a bucket of soapy water — after a day’s hunting, for example — but a less destructive method is much better for your leather tack.
Using a damp cloth, sponge off any mud and grease and then allow the leather to dry naturally before applying saddle soap. If the leather is very wet, towel it dry.
Don’t use too much water when cleaning leather saddles because wet leather stretches and the rivets inside the saddle could rust. Also, drying leather too quickly by a radiator can also make it go hard.
Don’t forget to condition
Once leather is dry and cleaned, apply conditioner. If the product disappears immediately, apply another layer. Then leave overnight and polish off the next day.
Banish the mould
The secret to preventing mould is to stop it from taking hold in the first place. The temperature at which tack is stored and allowed to dry is vital. Leather kept even in brick tack rooms — with no form of heating — will soon deteriorate. Mould will stain the colour of the leather and this is very difficult to remove because the fungi spores can be resistant to dyes.
Clean mouldy leather outside to avoid spreading spores. Wipe off mould with a damp cloth, which should be soaked in boiling water with disinfectant if you plan to use it again, then treat the tack with a leather-specific mould inhibitor, and finally condition the leather. Check that stitching hasn’t rotted and that spores haven’t spread to other items.
Fitting a low-wattage electric bar heater (wired safely) in the tack room will help prevent leather going mouldy.
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Use a cocktail stick to poke out dirt and product deposits from holes — but be careful not to enlarge the hole. A soft toothbrush is also useful for brushing away trapped dirt.
Check out our ‘Kit special’ in the 16 January issue of Horse & Hound, including a full article on caring for leather — on sale now.
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