Saddles generally get abused and thrown back in the saddle house or trailer till their next use. Many times and for most folks they get oiled little and washed even less. Dirt is a big problem for leather because it draws the oils out and dries the leather if left for extended periods of time. This leads to dryrott and damage that can lead to expensive repairs.
I recommend washing saddles and leather goods with a mild soap like Ivory dish soap or Murphy’s Oil Soap. Scrubbing this in with a soft brush and rinsing with warm water will get the dirt up and away from the leather. Once completely rinsed, set outside and allow to dry fully before conditioning leather with oil or leather conditioner. Not allowing the leather to dry fully can lead to mold growth.
It helps to take the saddle apart as far as you feel comfortable, this will allow you to get to the places that are hard to reach. A lot of saddle repairs are needed for the small, but important, parts that are underneath the main pieces of the saddle(rigging, connectors, stirrup leathers, etc).
Keep your saddle clean and maintained and you can save a lot of money on repairs. If all this sounds like too much work or just not your thing we would be happy to do this for you. We offer a complete Clean, Oil, and Polish in our shop as do many other saddle shops. I recommend this once a year with proper quaterly maintenance depending on use.
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