Hey guys, long time, no post! Life has been a little hectic over the past few months but as winter inevitably creeps back upon us I’m trying to come up with some ways to freshen up my blog and keep it consistent in my downtime. I figured I’d start it off with something we can all relate to – leather care!
Tack cleaning. A necessary unwelcome evil for some, a meditative routine that does others just as much good as it does their tack.
I find myself falling well into the latter group, and over the years have tried just about every product there is to find, so I figured – why not share what I know and love? If it helps out even one person that makes me happy, so without further ado, here’s the Budget Equestrian Leather Care Spa routine, with a mini review on each of these products as well. I always use my cleaning product first, following it up with either a light conditioner (daily at most or for new tack, weekly/bi-weekly once it breaks in) or heavy conditioner (breaking in new tack, once every month or two once it breaks in). This can fluctuate depending on what the leather needs – ie: if it gets sweaty and dry, sits unused for awhile, etc.
CLEANING: Higher Standards Leather Care Handcrafted Soap
For the past few years, this product has been a staple in my kit, and I’ve now ordered what I believe are my 4th or 5th tubs. I really genuinely don’t think I could go back to regular glycerine soaps or cleaners. The HS soaps are handmade and come in a handful of scents – all divine, all packaged with their own individual tack sponges. Before I add any other conditioner, or if I only have time for one step, this is my go-to. The soap itself has some natural oils in the ingredients, so it will restore some suppleness to your leather in a pinch. My absolute FAVOURITE thing about the HS soap is that, when used correctly, it leaves NO residue – on your tack or on you! The formula is such that when the suds and excess are wiped away, all that’s left is sparkling clean tack, a lovely smell, and soft hands smelling just as yummy. For this I just use the sponge provided while it’s damp, suds up a bit of soap on it, and scrub away at leather before wiping off with a soft lint-free cloth.
LIGHT CONDITIONING: Antares Leather Cream
I was introduced to this product recently when my barn owner/coach allowed me to test some out while my tack nerdy self was cleaning some of the school horse pieces one day. The first thing I noticed was the pleasant smell, possibly a bit ‘eau de parfum’ for some, but very fresh and clean. The formula is a very soft and oily type of cream, without some of the mess that comes along with the more liquid products. It takes a really small amount for the desired effect. I love this cream for giving already cared for pieces a regular little refresher, especially as it leaves the leather with a lovely gleam with little to no residue as well. Again, I just apply this in an even layer in small amounts with a soft, lint free towel or rag.
LIGHT CONDITIONING: Higher Standards Leather Care Handcrafted Leather Balm
These guys hit it out of the park again! Every time I tell someone about this I let them smell it first – it smells like buttery hot chocolate bliss. This balm is a solid formula, but melts into the leather as it’s worked in either with bare hands or with a lint free cloth. It ends up leaving a more matte finish to your tack, whereas the Antares gives a bit more gloss. This is also an excellent choice for tack that’s cared for regularly but needs a bit of extra TLC.
HEAVY CONDITIONING: Effax Lederbalsam/Leather Balm
I. Love. This. Stuff. When I bought my first tub in February I was unsure what I’d think, and purchased it based off a slew of good reviews and recommendations online. After reaching the end of my first tub since and purchasing a second, I think it’s safe to say I’m hooked. I usually end up using this guy as instead of oil on those pieces where over oiling can do some damage. The balsam comes in as a solid in a tub, but again melts into the leather as it’s worked and heated up from friction and your hands. The only complaint I have is that at first the smell threw me through a bit of a loop, since it reminded me distinctly of petroleum jelly/Vaseline. Now that I’ve gotten used to it though it’s grown on me and I’ve come to find it quite pleasant! With the thicker formula this does leave a nice ‘stick’ to some leather, but always leaves it looking nourished and feeling so supple. I apply this with a regular round tack cleaning sponge in an even thin layer, adding more layers if I have to.
HEAVY CONDITIONING: Fiebing’s Neatsfoot Oil
Neatsfoot is a classic, usually the first one any equestrian learns about! For restoring the fat content in your leather, this oil has stood the test of time, and even though I’ve tried a few other similar products the Neatsfoot is without a doubt the most economical for the same effect. If I’m going to be oiling my tack, I’ll usually pour a small amount into a plastic container and apply it in thin even layers with a dense sponge. Sometimes to help thin out the oil I’ll pop it in the microwave for a minute or two, giving tack the ultimate “hot oil” spa.
I’d love to hear what other products you guys use and love, and feel free to share this as a blog hop to play with at your own leisure. Thanks so much for reading!