Saddles and Tack get dirty quickly! Maintaining the life of your leather tack means keeping it clean and oiled. Horses sweat a lot while working, so salt and oils need to be cleaned off regularly. Additionally, dry leather not only chafes skin, but it can crack and break causing unnecessary accidents.
Unfortunately caring for your saddles and tack may also be exposing you to carcinogens: petroleum by-products and Glycol Ethers. The most traditional treatment for equestrian leathers has been Neatsfoot Oil. If you do choose Neatsfoot, Pure Grade will help to avoid petroleum additives.
Besides just the horrible smell element, I prefer using beeswax and botanical oils such as avocado or linseed blends.
for leather Cleaning: (all fragrance free)
Update:12/31/2013 Since my original post 2 years ago, many of the fragrance free products for leather I had posted seem to have disappeared from the market. The most practical solution I have found is to either use a fragrance free glycerin base soap to clean, or a fragrance free multi-purpose household cleaning spray. Follow this up by applying a homemade conditioner as noted below.
Oakwood Liquid Saddle Soap – Glycerin soap, PH balanced, can be used safely with or without water on all leather goods.
Fragrance Free Conditioning:
To have entirely Fragrance free options, you will have to use your own oil or shea butter because even the oils used in natural conditioners will have some smell. ***NOT for Nubuck or Suede!***
To condition, choose from a variety of natural oils. For a completely Fragrance Free Oil, use raw, cold pressed unrefined Safflower Oil or Linseed Oil (flaxseed). Completely odorless, yet mild enough to be easily absorbed. ** as noted by a commenter, you need to be careful to not use heat processed oils.
You can also mix your own conditioner by combining:
1/4 cup linseed or safflower oil and 1/2 cup white vinegar.
Shake thoroughly and rub in with soft cloth. Read more in: Natural Home Magazine
If you are feeling even more adventurous you can always order beeswax, melt it down and mix it with your choice of oils.
Leather Waterproofing Recipe:
- 4 oz. beeswax
- 4 oz. resin or rosin (violinists use this on their bows so you can find in music supply shop)
- 1 pint plant oil — Melt ingredients together, and apply while warm.
Pure Shea butter makes another wonderful odorless leather conditioner. Be careful when choosing however, as some whipped varieties are too thick to apply. I like the Shea Sticks because they are easy to apply and non-messy.
Fragrance Neutral Conditioners (have a naturally occurring OIL smell)
Olive Oil is a heavier oil and does a great job moisturizing, but I don’t always like my leather to smell like a salad; Coconut oil is another wonderful thick moisturizer, it of course has coconut smell.
Jojoba Oil is a nice light oil easily absorbable but with a slight odd smell; if you can tolerate essential oils, add a little to make more pleasant.
Claphams Beeswax leather care – contains beeswax and Carnauba Wax. Use it on all fine leathers. Do not use on suede.
Pappy’s Dubbin – No animal fats, natural and biodegradable.