What equestrian doesn’t need superior leather care products?
So, shockingly, I don’t actually enjoy tack cleaning all that much. I mean sure, it’s nice to see the results after the fact, but the sheer amount of leather that needs cleaned and maintained on a daily basis can sometimes make the entire process feel like an exercise in futility. “Bridle clean today? Awesome! You get to do it tomorrow again too! Oh, and don’t forget your boots, saddle, half chaps, reins, halters…”
You get the idea.
All that being said, I am a tack addict and I love quality tack (who doesn’t?). If I’m going to have said tack, it must be maintained and so this is where I suck it up and get it done. Because I clean my bridles after each ride, and ride multiple horses a day, I tend to look for products that are both effective as well as easy to use. While I love traditional saddle soaps, they do take a bit more time than most of the newer spray cleaners. Being that it’s incredibly dry here in Nevada, I also find it necessary to have a good leather conditioner that will soften and preserve the leather without making it a tacky, dust attracting mess.
One company that makes an excellent line of products that fit my criteria is Leather Therapy. Not only do they have an awesome leather cleaner and conditioner, but they also make THE BEST laundry detergent and laundry rinse for leather goods (i.e. my stupidly expensive breeches and those leather sport boots), an excellent blanket wash and rinse, a water repellent spray, and a cool liquid touch-up that helps restore worn leather. For specifics on these products keep reading on!
Leather therapy’s wash does a superior job removing the inevitable caked on sweat and dust grime from bridles, boots, billets, and pretty much any other leather good you can imagine. I really liked that it seemed to easily dissolve the scum without drying out the leather or requiring me to scrub it particularly hard. The wash also left my tack with a lovely, soft shine to it without any sort of greasy film that could attract more dust. The spray bottle was also a huge plus as it made daily cleaning quicker and easier.
Below you can see a pair of my half chaps before and after using JUST Leather Therapy’s wash. Cleaning both only took a few minutes and the results were quite nice. Certainly the difference in amount of dust is apparent, but I’d also like to point out that these half chaps have seen better days and are actually turning a bit green from fading (because I’m cheap enough that I will wear them until I can no longer hold them together with safety pins and baling twine). Using Leather Therapy’s wash seems to have helped the leather appear less green.
While using just the Leather Therapy wash yields super results, using it with the conditioner and restorer produces an even nicer outcome. The conditioner soaks into the leather nicely leaving it soft and supple but not sticky.
Though I generally clean my bridles after each use, I did have a double that’s been sitting since last fall that was a bit dusty, dry, and stiff. You can see the before and after pictures below. I should also note that this is an older bridle, probably at least ten years or more, so it was especially nice to see it clean up as nicely as it did. After cleaning with Leather Therapy’s wash and then conditioning with the restorer, the bridle felt pliable again and looked great.
In addition to the double bridle, here is a close-up before and after of one of my reins. The results below are after one use of the Leather Therapy wash and conditioner.
Finally, here’s an image of two other bridles cleaned and conditioned with Leather Therapy. The bridle with the crystal browband is about three years old and the other is likely over fifteen years old. Both turned out quite nicely.
Leather Therapy Wash can be purchased HERE from SmartPak for $14.95 per 16 oz bottle. Leather Therapy Restorer and Conditioner can be purchased HERE from SmartPak for $11.95 per 8oz bottle (16oz bottle also available).
With the laundry solution I use a small amount and wash my breeches on cold in the gentle cycle. Despite them going in covered in every possible type of grunge and looking beyond salvageable, they always come out sans stains, smelling good, and looking super. I’m basically addicted to FITS breeches which are only supposed to be washed in Leather Therapy Laundry Solution, Woolite for Delicates, or a similar leather safe wash. I have tried multiple brands of detergent but none get them as clean or keep the deerskin as nice as the Leather Therapy Laundry Solution. The Laundry Solution really is a must have if you have breeches with real leather that you want to protect.
With my leather and fleece boots, I try to first remove as much hair as possible from them before washing and then I wash them in warm or hot water on the regular cycle. These too come out super clean and the leather seems to stay nice and supple.
The Laundry Rinse and Dressing is meant to be added to the final cold rinse cycle but it can also be applied directly to the leather by hand after it has been washed. I’m personally too lazy to wait for the rinse cycle to add the Laundry Rinse, so I usually just apply a little to the deerskin on my breeches once they’re out of the wash, before I hang them to dry. I’ve been doing this for the past few months with some of my newer breeches and I can already tell a difference between how they’re wearing and how my older breeches did. So far it really seems to be helping with the suppleness of the leather.
I do occasionally add the Laundry Rinse to the rinse cycle too, usually with my show breeches because those don’t get worn and washed as often, and it has a similar effect. It also works nicely this way with leather gloves and the previously mentioned leather/fleece boots.
As much as my non-horsey husband cringes at the thought of me washing hairy, often manure crusted, horse laundry in the washer, sometimes it’s gotta be done (under cover of darkness, preferably when he isn’t home). When that time comes I’ve found I really like the results from Leather Therapy’s wash and rinse.
The Saddle Pad and Blanket wash is ideal for use on high tech fabrics (think some of the more waterproof types, textilene, and the Back on Track products) that need something that can cut through the heavy grime without destroying the fabric. The wash not only gets things super clean but it also eliminates odor and, in my experience, seems to help remove the hair that tends to get stuck to the back of the saddle pad, girths, blankets, etc.
In addition to washing with the Pad and Blanket Wash, I add the rinse to the fabric softener dispenser as well. While the Saddle Pad and Blanket Rinse does a couple of cool things–like further eliminates stink, breaks down grime, and conditions– my favorite thing about it is that it helps reduce static. If you’ve ever removed a flysheet from a spasticly dancing, 17hh, 4-year-old Warmblood while it crackled, popped, and zapped him, you can appreciate my hatred for static. Back East in Florida I never had that problem but out here in the high desert it’s a legitimate issue.
Both the wash and rinse are available in an easy to use 16oz pump bottle or by the gallon (for those of us with an entire herd’s wardrobe to maintain).
If you’re the sort of person who finds herself walking around all day doing everything while still wearing her riding boots, or if you just have leather work boots that need some protection, then you need Leather Therapy’s Water Repellant.
This stuff really is that good. It helps protect the leather against water damage without changing how the leather feels or its breathability; it’s also really easy to apply. I routinely use it on my riding boots after wiping them down with Leather Therapy’s wash and conditioner; so far doing so seems to have prolonged the life of my paddock boots that I usually destroy in under six months. To apply the water repellant, I wait until the boots have dried a bit, then I spray on the water repellant and use the sponge to rub it in. You should pay special attention to the toe caps and seams where water damage is likely to occur. Once it dries my boots are ready to go.
In the pictures below you can see what my boots look like after being cleaned, conditioned, and then treated with Leather Therapy’s Water Repellant. Note that these are older, well worn boots, and they still clean up quite well using Leather Therapy’s products.
To purchase Leather Therapy Water Repellant check out their site HERE.
Finally I’d like to note this nifty little product, Leather Therapy’s Leather Touchup. This stuff is cool for covering minor scratches or blemishes on your tack or boots. Touchup is easy to use, with minimal mess, as it comes in a bottle with a roll-on applicator.
I tested it on an older bridle with some wear and it seemed to help cover the scuffs pretty well so it’s certainly useful for sprucing up tack. At the moment, sadly, it only comes in black though. According to Leather Therapy, it can also be used on furniture and leather seats; as I’m not cool enough or rich enough for either I’ve not tested out those claims.
To purchase Leather Therapy Leather Touchup check out their site HERE.
Although tack cleaning isn’t likely to be high on anyone’s list of fun-things-to-do, it’s certainly a necessity for most equestrians. That being the case, having products that work and make the entire process less painful is a pretty good place to start.
Leather Therapy makes those products. They work, they’re easy to use, and they’re reasonably priced. What’s not to like?
Go Efficient Tack Cleaning!
Morgane Schmidt Gabriel is a 31-year-old teacher/artist/dressage trainer/show announcer/ who still hasn’t quite decided what she wants to be when she grows up. A native Floridian, she now lives in Reno, NV, where she’s been able to confirm her suspicion that snow is utterly worthless. Though she has run the gamut of equestrian disciplines, her favorite is dressage. She was recently able to complete her USDF bronze and silver medals and is currently working on her gold. Generally speaking her life is largely ruled by Woody, a 14.2 hand beastly quarter horse, Willie, a now gawky 5-year-old Dutch gelding, and Stormy, her friend’s nearly all white paint gelding with a penchant for finding every mud hole and pee spot in existence. Visit her website at www.theideaoforder.com.