A new saddle needs breaking in like a pair of boots.
Special attention is needed from the start to take the squeak out and make the leather soft and pliable and the saddle comfortable to ride in. Oil rough out and smooth out leather in exactly the same way. Once you’re sure that the saddle is the right size for you, oil the saddle.
Saddles need to be completely dry before oiling.
A liquid saddle dressing like Neatsfoot Blend (also available in a Squirt Bottle) is ideal for a new saddle because it soaks into the leather very easily and it can be poured or squirted into hard to reach places. Pure vegetable oil or olive oil is also good. We don’t recommend bullock fat or mutton fat as it is very greasy and messy. We have also seen disastrous results from people putting hot fat onto leather. It cooks the leather.
You may need to oil a new saddle about three times over a few weeks.
Oil the fenders more frequently, especially the backs, to protect from sweat. Fenders also need to be pliable because of the constant movement. Frequent oiling of the saddle when it is new will help to take the squeak out sooner and will shape it for a comfortable ride.
A used saddle may need to be washed before oiling.
Use warm baby temperature soapy water with a scrubbing brush.
Hose off with clean water.
Allow to dry in a well ventilated, shaded area.
Don’t put the saddle out in the sun to dry as the sun shrinks and hardens the leather.
Felt or wool lining can be washed in the same way.
Felt can become hard and glassy if horse sweat is left unwashed.
It is a good idea to have two saddle cloths and wash and change them daily.
Wool needs more care than felt and doesn’t have the same life expectancy.
WHEN DRY Rough out leather can be brushed with a wire brush to spruce it up.
Then treat in the same way as a new saddle, making sure the saddle is completely dry before oiling.
Ideally your saddle should be placed in a well ventilated, shaded or roofed area when not in use. If you have to leave your saddle outdoors, a shaded area is best. If not possible, spread a saddle cloth over the saddle. Saddles deteriorate very quickly if left outdoors day and night with no covering. The moist night air swells the leather and the hot sun then contracts and bakes it. Over a period of time the leather shrinks and cracks.
If the saddle isn’t going to be used for a while
We recommend that you wash it thoroughly and don’t oil it, particularly in humid conditions such as in the north during the wet season. Oiled leather attracts mould which can have a disastrous effect on leather.
For medium to long term storage
Clean, dry it and hang it up or sit it on a rail in a well ventilated shed. Don’t leave a saddle in a closed gear bag in humid conditions for any length of time. Condensation inside the bag encourages mould. Oil the saddle again when ready for use.[/fusion_text][fusion_text]
Kent Saddles on a rail at Elsey Station, NT
Why Rough Out?
Most of our saddles are made either rough out (i.e. flesh side out) or a combination of rough and smooth because:
We find that the rough side of leather stands up to everyday wear and tear better than the smooth side
The strongest part of the leather is the smooth side so it needs to be protected from damage by scratching and rubbing
A cut on the smooth side will open up whereas the rough side of leather can be cut half way through without opening up
A scratched smooth out saddle doesn’t look too good therefore affecting resale value
Rough out seats and kneepads also give a better grip